It can be difficult and overwhelming to deal with a baby who cries when changing their diapers.
Especially when it’s 3 am, you have “newborn sleep deprivation,” and you have work the next day!
I remember changing my baby’s diaper in the doctor’s clinic, which was QUIETER than a library – you can hear a pin drop.
There was a small toilet inside the clinic, with a diaper changing table.
And there was my lovely baby, screaming her lungs out, even the deaf patients could hear her.
It wasn’t a fun experience.
But alas we have no choice, we have to change our baby’s diapers.
So what do you do when your baby cries during a diaper change?
How do you soothe them and minimize your and their stress?
Why are they even crying in the first place?! Let’s find that out first.
I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.
8 Reasons Why Babies Cry During Diaper Changes
Discomfort From Dirty Diaper
I can’t imagine sitting and lying on my pee and poop for hours and hours.
So imagine how a wet or soiled diaper feels for your baby.
So it’s only normal if some babies cry during diaper changes because a dirty diaper can be really unpleasant, even disgusting.
Especially if they had a diaper blowout.
Your baby might be feeling uncomfortable because their room is hot and they’re perspiring.
Or it’s too cold and you’re touching them with cold hands, hence the crying!
Some babies are just more sensitive than others and even a slightly wet diaper can already irritate their skin.
Hell, they can even have a reaction to a dry diaper or even non-toxic disposable wet wipes!
You just never know with babies as everyone’s different.
That irritation can lead to redness, itching, or worse causing them to wail and cry so much when you’re changing their diapers.
If there’s a lot of irritation, redness, itchiness, and even sores, your baby might be having a severe diaper rash.
It’s quite common in some babies to have it, as some have really more sensitive skin than others.
Or if you haven’t changed their diapers for hours, you’ve introduced some new food or you’re taking antibiotics while breastfeeding, that can also lead to diaper rash.
Hungry or Sleepy
Let’s face it, we don’t want to do anything when we’re hungry and sleepy and babies are like that too!
They might prefer to nurse first or drink their bottle or take a nap, instead of a diaper change.
So it can be hard to soothe them and try to change their diapers first before giving them their milk or putting them to sleep.
This is one of the common reasons why a baby won’t stop crying.
The room might be too noisy, too bright, are there too many people around, or are there any strangers around – these can all cause overstimulation to your little one, during diaper changes.
If you have an older baby or toddler, they might not like diaper changes simply because they’re not in charge.
They might try to crawl or run away from you and if they can’t, they might start bawling.
They might also be at that stage where they’re exploring new skills, such as rolling, sitting up, etc.
And if a diaper change is getting in the way of those activities, that might make them feel upset.
Your baby might have hair wrapped on their toe (that can happen!) which can seriously hurt them.
Or they might be colicky, have acid reflux, feel gassy, etc.
What To Do When Your Baby Cries When Changing Diapers
Create a Diaper Changing Routine
Babies need routine as it provides a sense of comfort and safety.
They will have an inkling of what will happen next, which can make your little one feel very secure and comfortable.
So try to come up with a diaper changing routine, if possible.
It can be as simple as showing your baby the diaper and saying, “It’s time to change your diapers!”
You can also have a diaper changing table or a dedicated place, like a mat with a towel on the floor plus a diaper caddy, to change their diapers.
Do that over and over again, just to get the message across to your baby that it’s time to change their diapers!
Change Diapers at the Right Time
Try to change your baby’s diaper when they’re calm and content.
Don’t try to change their diapers when they’re obviously hungry or sleepy, as this will just stress both you and your baby.
Give them some milk or let them take a nap first then change their diapers.
Use a Suitable Diaper
You might have to go through a couple of trials to get the right kind of diaper that’s gentle for your baby but it will be worth your time.
A diaper that doesn’t cause any irritation and absorbs well will make things much easier for both you and your little one.
So try to find one that fits your baby properly to avoid diaper leakages – maybe a skinny diaper for your baby can be more appropriate.
Or maybe try the best non-toxic diapers as that can minimize redness and irritation.
Maybe a cloth diaper can be your best option!
Keep Their Room Calm and Quiet
If possible, create a very calm and zen nursery room for your baby.
Get the best blackout curtain if the room is too bright, play some soft lullabies to make your little one feel more relaxed.
Or use a white noise machine to drown out other sounds.
Keep Them Comfy
Make sure that there’s nothing on the diaper changing mat that can irritate their skin.
Try to also warm up the area first before putting in your baby, as a cold diaper changing table can be uncomfortable, causing them to cry during diaper changes.
If the weather is cold, swaddle their upper body while changing their diapers.
Make It A Positive Experience
Turn diaper changing into a bonding and educational experience!
Narrate the steps you’re doing to change their diapers.
Plenty of eye contact and a gentle soothing voice can be enough to calm down some babies.
This can also be a newborn developmental activity for them, as it can help develop their language and listening skills!
Try singing to them, cuddling, and gently touching their body parts while changing their diapers.
I remember singing a lot to my daughter then, even while I was giving her a bath, cause she just hated it!
You can also get silly with them – make funny faces, blow on their belly, give them a little tickle!
Your baby then will hopefully associate diaper changing as a fun activity, which will lessen the crying and wailing in the next diaper changes.
Make Them Fart First
Your baby might be gassy or is having a tummy ache.
Release that gas first (or something else) by giving them a massage.
Or lift their legs in the air and gently move their legs back and forth, like they’re riding bicycles in the air.
Try Some Distraction
You can also use a toy to distract them!
Use a non toxic wooden toy for your baby or choose from the best non toxic toy brands, if you prefer a safe and organic toy.
You can also hang up some pictures or mobile near the diaper changing area for your baby to look at, to keep them happy and distracted.
I did this with my daughter. I had 1 to 2 toys for her to hold during diaper changes.
And I also had a mobile clipped on her crib, near her diaper changing table, plus some soft books hanging around so she can stay distracted with it!
Make It Quick
With some babies, you have to be a ninja diaper changer, or else, you’ll hear them screaming within just a few seconds.
So don’t dilly dally with changing their diapers but as much as possible, try to stay calm and focused.
Don’t get too worked up and anxious as your baby will feed off that energy, which can set off the crying again during diaper changes.
Make Them Stand Up
My baby started walking at 8 months so if you have a little one that just won’t stop moving and screams when you put them down for a diaper change – then make them stand up!
I did this with my daughter. I had no choice cause she was always on the move and hated laying down for diaper changes.
Use pull-ups instead of diapers to make the diaper-changing process so much easier for both of you.
Do A Diaper Changing Demo
If you have an older baby and diaper changing is still stressing them out, try doing a diaper changing demo for them.
Show them how it’s done by using a doll or stuffed animal and then putting on a diaper on them.
Explain to them what you’re doing in a gentle, sing-song voice and hype it up if needed.
It would make your little one interested and that might cut down the nappy change fights.
What To Do If Your Baby Persistently Screams During Nappy Change
- Change Your Routine
Maybe trying a different diaper changing area can minimize the crying during diaper changes.
Or maybe play some songs during diaper changes – add that to their routine!
Or maybe try a completely new one, like the Eat Play Sleep baby routine.
Try to tweak little things in your little one’s routine and see which one might work for them.
- Try Out New Distractions
Maybe swap their diaper changing toys every few days or so.
Or change the pictures they keep seeing around them, to still get them distracted.
Or try a new funny, weird face or facial expression, to keep the novelty going.
- Consult with a Pediatrician
Your baby might be suffering from some severe irritation or some illness.
Or they might be experiencing some pain that you can’t recognize.
There are some over-the-counter diaper rash treatments you can use on your baby. But it’s best to go to a pediatrician so they can examine your baby and provide the right kind of medicine or treatment.
FAQ on Baby Cries When Changing Diapers
How do I stop my baby from crying when I change his/her diapers?
You can stop your baby from crying when changing his/her diapers by distracting them with toys, music, and funny faces. Or making sure that they’re not cold or hot and are not in pain, or trying out a new diaper or routine.
Why does my baby freak out during diaper changes?
Your baby might be freaking out during diaper changes because they might not like the experience. Maybe they’re cold, they have some irritation or slight diaper rash.
Or they might be hungry or sleepy.
They might also want to try out new skills and activities right at that moment and a diaper change is preventing them from doing so.
Takeaway: Baby Cries When Changing Diaper
It can be truly overwhelming seeing your baby crying when changing their diapers.
And remember, you have to do that several times a day!
But as with everything else, it’s a phase that you and your baby will go through. And that phase will eventually end, especially if there’s no serious medical issue behind your baby’s crying during diaper changes.
If they’re growing normally, they will eventually get used to it.
And next thing you know, you’ll be potty training them!
So don’t stress out so much. Just try out the tips and hacks above and see what works for your baby.