By the time your newborn is a week old, you could easily perform diaper duty in your sleep (heck, you practically do), but that doesn’t mean the task should be carried out on autopilot. Research shows that baby-parent bonding may influence brain development, says Felicia Fitzgerald, BSN, RNC-OB, perinatal outreach educator at the University of Chicago Medicine and member of the Huggies Nursing Advisory Council. And the seemingly mundane routine of diaper-changing is an ideal opportunity to boost that bond.
Set the tone
When it’s time to freshen up, take a moment to establish a connection with your little stinker. Fitzgerald suggests trying the “five-second rule”: “Gently yet firmly place your hands on baby for five seconds before diving into the diaper change. This can help create a sense of calm for baby—and for you, too.” Talking, singing and making eye contact with your small-fry further invites meaningful interaction.
Ease the anxiety
If your little one wails louder during diaper changes than you did during labor, make an effort to ease her nervousness or find the source of her discomfort. “Start by looking for cues that show you baby is stressed—things like restlessness, flailing arms and legs, and of course, crying,” Fitzgerald advises. “By understanding these cues, you’ll know when to intervene in a helpful way, such as offering a finger for her to hold onto or gently moving her arms and legs close to her body in a swaddled position to create a more secure feeling.”
Simulate the comforts of home
Creating a serene routine in baby’s carefully curated nursery is child’s play compared to keeping your cool in a crowded public restroom with a verifiably gross changing station. Your tot will pick up on whatever vibes you’re putting out, though, so tell those rushed and flustered feelings to hit the road. “Being mindful can help you complete the task in a calm and happy way, allowing the baby to pick up on these positive emotions,” encourages Fitzgerald. “If you’re feeling hurried, just taking a breath and grounding yourself will help.”