Have you ever walked into your toddler’s room at the end of naptime to find a very unpleasant surprise? I mean the “my toddler is taking his diaper off” surprise? While a diaper-less toddler is always adorable, the clean-up that often comes with it is . . . not! Your toddler’s newfound skill of taking his diaper off can throw sleep majorly off-track. Fret not! There are solutions to this problem.
Why is My Toddler Taking his Diaper Off?
Toddlers are curious by design. This stage of life is full of cognitive, physical, and emotional development. Any time our children are learning a new skill or going through a developmental milestone, we can see sleep be disrupted. But this skill–that involves motor planning and fine motor skills–can be an exciting one from the perspective of your child. He has seen you being in charge of his diaper since day 1 and now HE’S finally figured it out–what a big boy feeling that is! And once your child learns a new skill, he will want to practice it over and over again.
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What to do:
- Stay calm–You will indeed have a big reaction (perhaps like screaming “Oh crap!” or “No no no no no no!”), but do not show it to your child–keep it in! You do not want to inadvertently reinforce him taking off his diaper. Any positive (think laughing) or negative (like yelling) reaction will reinforce the behavior. And toddlers love getting attention. They also love seeing how to make mom and dad react. If he can get you to have a big reaction again, and if it means you come running in and nap ends early, or you start the day earlier, he will continue to take his diaper off.
- Prevent it–use one of the following tools
- Sleepsack: A zip-up sleepsack will most likely solve your problem because your toddler won’t be able to access his diaper with a sleepsack on. Use it at nap and nightime. Sleepsacks come in all sizes and they make them big enough for toddlers.
- TIP! If your little one knows how to take off the sleep sack, turn it around and put it on inside out.
- Onesie: A onesie that snaps under the crotch makes it very difficult to take a diaper off for a toddler.
- Zip-up pajamas: Similar to a sleepsack, zip-up pjs make it very difficult for your toddler to access his diaper and take it off (especially if you put them on backwards).
- Duct tape: When all else fails, put some duct tape over the diaper fasteners, or around the waist of the diaper. Make sure no tape ever touches your child’s skin directly.
Remember that this is a phase your toddler is in and it will pass. By preventing it from continuing with the above strategies, and staying consistent at sleep times, your child will stop taking his diaper off during sleep times.