At around 24 months, your child may be gaining the language and physical skills needed to start toilet training. But diapers are still a fact of life for most young children at 2 and beyond. Here’s what you need to know to master this new stage of diaper duty.
Diaper size can change quickly. Before you stock up at the wholesale club, make sure you’ve got the right size. Children grow at such different rates that weight is better than age for judging the right size diaper, says Filer.
During baby's first year -- when you're visiting her doctor all the time -- add her latest weight to your memory or smartphone.
If you’re not sure about your toddler, lead her to your home scale. If she won’t stand still on the scales, weigh yourself and then weigh again while you’re holding her. A little subtraction will give you a rough idea.
Don’t ignore dirty diapers. Let’s face it, you’re probably more relaxed than when you brought your baby home from the hospital. If a wet diaper’s not bothering your child, it’s awfully tempting to leave it just a little longer. “Who of us hasn’t seen a droopy diaper on a toddler and said, ‘That can wait another half hour’?” says Lisa Asta, MD, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Of course, even though the absorbent gel keeps liquids away from your toddler’s bottom, a wet diaper can still cause diaper rash.
Toddlers get less diaper rash. Fortunately, toddlers don’t get diaper rash as often as babies. Diaper rash peaks when babies are between 9 and 12 months old, partly due to the transition to formula and solid foods.
Attack a rash quickly. If your toddler does get diaper rash, treat it like you did when she was younger. Slather on plenty of ointment. Watch for signs of infection like fever, ulcers, or a rash spreading outside the diaper. If you spot any of these, ask your doctor about medicine.
As always, wash your hands before and after every diaper change.
If you recently started using pull-ups, consider going back to diapers or switching to another brand, suggests Asta.
Choose the right changing location. A toddler may squirm too much for that cute little changing table in the nursery. It's not worth risking a nasty fall. Try using a changing pad on the floor, closer to the action, says Lucinda Brown, RN, spokesperson for the Society of Pediatric Nurses.
Remember to change your toddler in an appropriate place, though. You may be so used to poopy diapers that you may forget everyone around you isn’t.
Make diaper time fun. Toddlers have better things to do than get their diapers changed. “They’re at an age when they’re all about being oppositional,” says Asta. “It’s very developmentally appropriate, but, boy, it wears you out.” Brown suggests giving your child a toy to play with at changing time, or singing songs to distract her.
However, don’t make changing optional, Brown advises. “Don’t approach your child by saying, ‘Is it OK for me to change your diaper?’ There are lots of things you can battle with kids over, but changing a diaper isn’t one of them.”