Let’s crunch some numbers. A conservative estimate says that your baby will need a diaper change seven times a day, and that each change takes five minutes from start to finish. Let’s also assume that your child becomes fully potty-trained at age three.
Three years equals 1095 days. 7 diapers/day multiplied by 1095 days equals 7665 diapers changed. At five minutes per diaper, that’s 38325 minutes in total. That number is the same as 638.75 hours, 26.6 days, and watching Titanic 197.5 times.
Before becoming a parent, it’s hard to appreciate the time you will spend at the changing table. But as soon as your baby arrives, you know—whether cloth or disposable, those diapers fill up. Fast. And that means that you and your little one will be spending lots of quality time together practicing the great art of the diaper change.
Five minutes here, five minutes there—when you’re changing diapers ten times a day, this time adds up. But diaper changing doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, these five minutes spent changing a diaper go so much farther than a clean baby. In the hour you spend at the changing station each day, you are given an hour of uninterrupted quality time, one on one, with your child.
Now, we all know just how difficult it can be to successfully change a baby’s diaper while he wiggles, cries, and pees simultaneously. And even though these moments will always pop up (and inevitably at the least opportune moment), there are lots of ways to interact with your baby while making diaper changing a more pleasant experience for both of you. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Engage. Let him feel the texture of a clean diaper. Play peek-a-boo, and practice holding eye contact with him. Talk about what’s coming up next in his day.
- Talk. Tell your baby about what you’re doing. Narrate your actions—explain what the baby wipes are for. A parent’s voice is soothing to a child, so by speaking you can calm him down while positively impacting his cognitive development.
- Listen. Encourage those coos and giggles, and look out for any signs of discomfort. Pay attention to sounds your baby makes, and respond as you would to normal speech. Diaper time can be conversation time, too.
- Entertain. Give her an age-appropriate toy to occupy her hands while you clean her up. Mirrors, pictures, and stuffed animals are favorites in my house. Try rotating the toys to keep her curious.
- Enjoy. Slow down to appreciate the physical and emotional bond these moments develop between parent and child. Be silly—blow raspberries and gently tickle. Sing songs and laugh together.
When you envision your new life as a parent, you probably don’t look forward to the unending onslaught of diaper changes that come with a new baby. However, I’ve actually found changing time to be one of my favorite parenting roles. While I could do without the mess, the time I spend at the changing table with my daughters has brought us closer together.