Diapering: Changing diapers as an opportunity to nurture

  •  Diapering can teach children about their bodies. Children are born with bodies that they don’t yet know. They can’t fully control them, they don’t know how they work; nor do they know the names of their body parts. Diapering, bathing and dressing all provide opportunities for children to learn about their bodies. A chance to participate in the process offers children practice in physical coordination and self-care. Learning words for their body parts gives children a vocabulary to use to talk about their bodies and their bodily functions. Teaching children names for all their body parts, for genitals, as well as elbows and toes, helps them learn that they can be proud of their whole bodies, not just certain parts. Finding appropriate names for children’s genitals may be challenging and/or embarrassing for parents. Even if you use “cute” family names for children’s genitals, it can be important to also give them the correct vocabulary for their penises, testicles, vulvas and vaginas.
  • Loving, appropriate, respectful touch provides children a sense that their bodies are precious. One of the most important things children can learn in their early years is how they can expect to be treated in the world. If children are treated respectfully by being informed about what is happening to them and included in the process they will learn to expect that kind of treatment in all of their relationships. They will less likely agree to being treated hurtfully in future relationships and they will know how to treat others with gentleness and care.

    • Diapering is important preparation for toilet learning. When children make the transition to the potty, it can be a big change from the passive experience of being diapered. However, if children are involved in their own diapering and self-care, even before they begin to use the toilet, they may make the transition more easily. “I remember how to pull my pants down and wipe myself. I’ve been doing it for diaper changes already!”
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