Anyone who has ever been a parent or has taken care of babies and toddlers knows that when it comes to changing diapers, the child isn’t always so happy about it. Recently, a childcare chain in Australia suggested that parents ask their child permission before changing nappies. Their suggestion was not as well-accepted as they thought.
Australian Daycare Suggest Parents Asking Permission Before Changing Kids’ Nappies
In an effort to begin teaching about consent as early an age as possible, the Australian childcare chain Only About Children suggested one way parents do this is by asking permission before changing nappies (aka diapers). They want parents to put themselves in their children’s shoes and think about how they may feel in that situation.
“If you were a baby, how would you like to have your nappy changed?” they asked.
They want to encourage respectful diaper changes and promote bonding between the parent and the child. Some of their suggestions include:
- Being open-minded and not interrupting the toddler while they are changing
- Ask for cooperation but understand as the child grows, how they wish to be changed might change (for example, they may wish to stand instead of lay down)
- Encourage independence: For example, if the child is able you can ask them to take off their own diaper (with help, if necessary) or wipe themselves
- Wait for a gap in their play before beginning the changing process
- Asking them if they want to walk to the changing table or be carried
These things, they say, teach independence, body autonomy, and consent.
It Doesn’t Mean Kids Will Be Walking Around In Dirty Diapers
The school insists that it doesn’t mean that you should be allowing your children to be walking around in dirty diapers just because they don’t want to be changed at that moment. Naturally, there are health consequences to this. Instead, they are suggesting that you allow the child to have a bit more say in the process by saying things like “we need to change your diaper now, are you okay with that?” and following some of the suggestions listed earlier.
They Aren’t The First To Suggest This
In April, an American mom went viral on TikTok for sharing how she teaches consent and body autonomy to her babies and toddlers during diaper changes. Her goal is to make sure that her child feels included in the process.
“The goal is to make him feel involved and not like a passive observer having his body manipulated,” she says. “Young toddlers and babies cannot consent to diaper changes but they must be done as a necessary care task.”
Her steps for changing nappies respectfully include:
- Explain what you are doing as you do it
- Interact with the child throughout the process using songs, conversations, and questions
- If they object or are upset, explain to them why you have to change their diaper and give them some choice (for example: Do you want to change right now or in two minutes?)
Of course, young babies can’t speak or give consent, however, you can still make the experience interactive for them. Pay attention to their body language, talk to them, use songs, and give them your full attention.
There Are Many Who Disagree
There are many people who have been commenting online and speaking out against this, saying that it is useless because babies don’t understand and can’t give consent. Child Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is one of those opposed.
“Trying to seek consent from a six-month-old baby is like trying to teach your dog Shakespeare – there’s absolutely no point,” he said. “They seriously don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand this. Babies respond to touch and tone – be gentle, make soothing noises but really, that’s your job.”
Most people, however, just decided to make jokes about it.
“I was denied my fundamental right as a child” said a few.
“So what happens when the child says no to changing their dirty nappy? They leave them in it for the whole day? What if it’s cold outside and the child refuses to put on a jacket? You let them play in a singlet in 2degrees? Someone has to be adult/carer!” said another.
In reality, it is up to the parents to decide how they want to tackle diaper changing with their child. If you wish to use this strategy with your child, go for it! That being said, it is not mandatory or a law. If you choose not to, it doesn’t make you a better or worse parent. As always, do what you think is best for your child.
Keep Reading: Daycare Writes a Note on Baby’s Stomach to Shame His Mom Into Packing More Diapers