5 Dads on Diaper Changing

  by Erik Wolgemuth

A lot about diaper changing can be summed up succinctly with, “just get it done.” And while that’s true, I’d also contend that Malcolm Gladwell wasn’t off-base when he wrote about the mastery acquired through the 10,000 hour rule in Outliers. Now none of the dads we asked about diaper changing have spent over a year of their lives in the act of changing diapers (hopefully), but these are veterans worth listening to:

From fellow dad, Noel, father of two:

Meconium. Blowouts. Pee fountains. Rashes. Squirming. Screaming. Kicking. Rolling. Ah, the joys of diaper changing. But it’s a trial by fire that doesn’t have to end in despair. No matter the child or the situation, here are the essentials:

Speed – Don’t get cute. Get done.

Strength – Master the one-handed foot lock. It will serve you well.  

Sanitize – Cleanliness really is next to godliness. Leave no trace.

Smear – Diaper rash cream is your friend. Apply liberally.

Smell – As in, don’t. Mouth breathing only.

Good luck and Godspeed, dads.

From fellow dad, Austin, father of one girl:

My daughter hates it when I change her diaper these days. When she was a little baby it was so easy. One wipe, one diaper, boom. Set to go. These days, she’s trying to roll as soon as the diaper comes off.

But here are a few tips I’ve learned over the last nineteen months –

  1. Change every diaper the first three weeks of your newborn’s life. Your wife just carried your baby for nine months and gave birth – the least you can do is take this stress away from her (also – newborn poo is nothing compared to when they start eating solid food. Get in as many as you can during this stage so that you have the basics mastered when the stakes rise and solid food is being digested).
  2. Baby girl? Wipe front to back. Not sure what happens if you go the other direction [Editor’s Note: infection can happen], but just don’t.
  3. As your baby gets older, she can find lying on her back while you change her to become boring quickly. Finding good distractions is key … but be careful what you use as a distraction…
  4. Wipes are cheap. Don’t be afraid to use too many.
  5. When worse comes to worst, use the half-nelson-esque technique . Lightly place your feet on your child’s arms. Use one hand to hold your baby’s feet and the other to do the wiping. Don’t be deterred by the crying.

Follow these techniques and you’ll be a diaper changing champion… or, a survivor at least.

From fellow dad, Jake, father of one:

Mentally prepare for the worst. Every approach. Every time. I’m an optimist by nature, but this is one category of life where I consistently lower my expectations. With each step towards the changing table, convince yourself of a full blow-out. “Surely this will call for the back-up outfit… Heck, he’ll probably need a bath.” Trust me, this little mind game results in 19 out of 20 pleasant surprises.

Don’t play the “hesitation game” with your wife. You know what I’m talking about. Jumping up first is more about loving your wife than your baby. It may be true that dads in generations before us did not change diapers. Some sources say your little guy will go through 4,000 diapers in the first year. Dadcraftsman, try for a thousand “at bats” through this monotonous expression of love. My hunch is that these less-than-desirable investments will pay off.

To add a little fun, register for the Diaper Genie Disposal System. It’s not just any old trash can. In addition to magically trapping odor, each shot into the hoop gives dads a satisfying “swoosh” sound. The heavier the diaper, the louder the swoosh!

From fellow dad, Brian, father of one:

Dads – embrace the cloth. When my wife told me she was interested in using cloth diapers, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I pictured a big towel with two safety pins wrapped around my new child.  While cloth diapers includes slightly more work than the traditional disposable diaper, using them has not been nearly as difficult I thought it would be.  Yes, you will have to do more laundry, and yes, things get a little…sticky…when solid foods enter into the equation – BUT, the money you will save is well worth it.  So, invest in some cloth diapers and pocket some of that money that you would otherwise be throwing away.

From our own, Andrew, father of four.

I remember the first poopy diaper that I changed: a meconium-laden load changed as our debut child rested in her hospital bassinet. I wasn’t quick, I wasn’t confident, but my work was … adequate. And fortunately Chris is right on: “Everyone is awkward the first time around. But, good news: there will be no shortage baby waste created and in no time, you’ll be bonafide special forces with the duty.” Babies provide plenty of training opportunities; change diapers whenever and wherever you can.

You can’t do everything. But you can always do this. If you’re around, you’re the right person for the job.


We gather some fellow-dad wisdom on Playing Princesses. And our interviews, of course.

Picture by Rusty Clark; Used via Creative Commons license. Amazon links are affiliate links.