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How to Change a Baby Who Won't Lie on His Back

Updated on March 22, 2020
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Cassidy is an author, a scientist, and a new father facing the world of parenting head-on with his lovely wife.

Happy baby after a change
Happy baby after a change | Source

Trying to change a squirmy baby can feel like an impossible ordeal, especially if your baby hates to be on his back. I have had to deal with this for the past couple of months, ever since my little bundle of joy learned how to roll over. My wife and I tried many approaches to solve this problem, and here I present the ones that worked best for us. Good luck!

Prepare the Changing Area in Advance

One of the best things you can do to reduce the struggle is to prepare in advance. Get the diaper and new clothes ready and take out a number of wipes if necessary. Making the changing process as efficient as possible can make it less difficult for you. The longer the changing takes, the more your baby will struggle, and that will further prolong the changing and only make it harder. As your baby realizes that it will only be a short inconvenience rather than a painful, prolonged fight, he may not struggle quite as much. And even if it doesn't help your baby to stop struggling, at least the ordeal will be over more quickly.

Try Pull-On Diapers

Far and away the most successful approach we tried was using pull-on diapers instead of standard diapers. Similar to pull-up diapers, which older children can pull up themselves, these are diapers you pull on your baby so they don't have to be lying down flat on their back.

Regular diaper and pull-on diaper front view
Regular diaper and pull-on diaper front view
Regular diaper and pull-on diaper side view
Regular diaper and pull-on diaper side view

As you can see above, instead of fastening flaps with Velcro, pull-on diapers have a stretchy waistband so you don't have to fumble around trying to get it closed up tight while your baby squirms and complains. They also have stretchy leg holes to prevent leakage, which has worked well most of the time for us. Our preferred brand is Pampers Cruisers 360 Fit. Not only is it helpful when your baby starts rolling over, it's also great when he begins standing up because you can put the diaper on while he stands rather than forcing him to lie down. I highly recommend these diapers. They can be a lifesaver.

Tag Team It

Another good option is to work together with someone to change your baby. While one person deals with the messy business, the other can hold the baby still and distract him with noises, silly faces, or songs. Unfortunately, this is often not possible and you'll have to change your baby on your own, but if you can get some help, it makes a world of difference.

Use Distractions

Even by yourself, you can still try to distract your baby from the changing to calm him down. Talk or sing to him while you're changing him, and if that's not enough, we've found that it can help to give him a toy or something to hold onto, even if it's just another clean diaper. Just make sure it's something you don't mind going into your little one's mouth, because it surely will.

Some of the toys we use to distract our little one while we change him
Some of the toys we use to distract our little one while we change him

Wait for the Right Time

Trying to change an already irritable baby is just asking for trouble. If you're not in a must-change situation, it's probably better to wait until your baby is in a happier mood. The more mellowed out your baby is, the less likely he'll put up a struggle when you change him. Some good times are after eating, after a nice nap, and when your baby is tired but not overtired.

Try to Remain Calm

Nothing can make a diaper struggle worse than getting frustrated and angry about how difficult your baby is being. You will only make your baby more unhappy and less likely to cooperate. Try taking a deep breath and calming down. If you need to set your baby down for a moment before trying again, do so. Your baby is not trying to be difficult. He just doesn't like to be changed. If he sees that diaper changing also upsets you, it will only upset him all the more. You're not alone in this struggle. Just keep doing your best, and hopefully these tips will help!


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