During a diaper change, your face is the perfect visual distance from your baby, and she can see your facial expressions more clearly. Take the opportunity to “narrate” your activities and talk throughout during the diapering process. Incorporating fun changing table activities into your routine will engage your baby and make diaper time more enjoyable for you both. Once your baby is through the early newborn phase and stops crying during most diaper changes, chances are good that she’ll soon decide the changing table is a favorite place to play!
What are changing table activities?
Changing table activities are the few minutes of positive interaction, play, and pleasant bonding time that occur before, during, or after your baby’s diaper changes. They don’t involve the diapers and wipes, and don’t even require a changing table!
Build several fun little songs and simple play activities into your baby’s routine. Babies love repetition, so by using the same few rhyming games, she’ll soon recognize the activity, becoming more excited and engaged. Together you’ll begin to have special “favorite” songs and games to share.
“Row, row, row your boat” with rocking movements
Cross baby’s legs one over the other, then flex them up toward her body so the legs are closer to her belly. Sing one verse of the song while slowly rocking your baby gently from side to side. Allow her legs to relax and unfold down, reverse the crossed legs so the other foot is on top now, and bring the legs back up, and sing the song again while gently rocking your baby side to side. This is also helpful for gassy babies (which are most babies!).
Don’t think you know any nursery rhymes or baby games? Bet you do!
Even if not fitting the traditional “nursery rhyme” category, in a pinch, you can sing Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday, the Alphabet Song, and Row Your Boat. Your baby will be thrilled as you make up little pats or bounces to go along with your song, for example, try gently “clapping” baby’s feet together in rhythm to the song.
Maybe you also remember The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or This Little Piggy Went to Market. These old standards even have easy hand movements built in. Also incorporate any songs or rhymes you remember from your childhood into your changing table activities, especially if they are in a different language, and lyrics from favorite bands. Your baby will love them all if you’re singing them.
Because you’ll need to stay in hand’s distance from your baby at all times when on the changing table, use a nearby shelf to store a few playful items to explore with your baby to extend the playtime. A rattle, a board book, a brightly colored puppet or stuffed animal, and a baby-safe mirror are some items that you might use to engage your infant. When singing or reading to your baby, use a high-pitched, sing-song tone of voice. Often called “Motherese” or “Parentese”, as annoying as it may be to adults, it’s been shown by research to be significantly better at holding a baby’s interest.