Childcare chain urges parents to ask permission before changing nappies

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

Australian childcare chain Only About Children has suggested parents should be asking permission before changing their child's nappies.

The chain, which operates 75 early learning centres across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, believe it's important for parents to ensure "respectful" nappy changes.

An Australian childcare chain has said parents should ask permission before changing their child's nappies to ensure 'respectful' changes. Photo: Getty
An Australian childcare chain has said parents should ask permission before changing their child's nappies to ensure 'respectful' changes. Photo: Getty

They ask that parents put themselves in their baby's position, "If you were a baby, how would you like to have your nappy changed?"

"The most significant thing about a nappy change is not the new nappy," they write in a blog on their website. "It’s the good feelings shared between baby and parent. It’s the relationship. How can you slow down your nappy changes and give them your full attention?"

Only About Children then provided their tips for a 'respectful' nappy change, including not interrupting your toddler while they're playing, giving them your undivided attention and being open-minded about how the process might change as the child grows up.

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"Toddlers don’t like to be interrupted when they are playing, wait for a gap in their playing before starting the nappy changing process," they write. "You may wish to give your toddler some autonomy and ask 'Would you like to walk to the change table or should I carry you?'" 

They continued, "Toddlers sense our hurry or distraction, and it can make them tense and resistant. Ask for your baby’s help, talk them through what you are doing and encourage the use of senses (the feel of the cold wipe, the sound of the zip in their pyjamas)."

When it comes to toddlers who love to move around, they suggest encouraging their independence and perhaps asking them if they want to take off their own nappy and wipe themselves.

The website shares advice on making nappy changing more about the relationship between parent and child. Photo: Getty
The website shares advice on making nappy changing more about the relationship between parent and child. Photo: Getty

They also note that it won't "always be easy", adding, "Acknowledge that sometimes nappy changes can be disastrous, embrace it and share your feelings with your toddler, 'Wow, that was a tough one for both of us, wasn’t it?'"

The advice is similar to Australian sexuality expert Deanne Carson, who also encouraged parents to ask for consent to change nappies in 2018.

"Of course, a baby’s not going to respond, ‘Yes Mum, that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed,’ but if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact, then you’re letting that child know that their response matters," she told ABC News.

Ms Carson was criticised for her view at the time with one Twitter user writing, "That is completely stupid! If I had waited for my child's permission to change her diaper, I would have had my paediatrician jumping down my neck about my child's medical welfare!"

"This is when you realize we’ve gone too far," another wrote. "Consent is very crucial to teach young children, yes, but.. for a baby??? They aren’t cognitive or developed enough to change themself? You have to change their diaper anyways, so their yes or no won’t really matter?"

Others disagreed with the criticism with one user writing, "She didn't say 'MUST seek consent'... nor imply not doing so violates the child. She presented it as an opportunity to teach kids that they have a say about others touching them."

"A nappy is a bad place to start," someone else wrote. "You have to change diapers. A better place is asking before you hug and kiss a child. That way if they respond negatively you can actually honour that request."

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