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Diapering a Fidgeter

Gone are the days of a cooing, docile baby who lets you change his diaper without a fuss. Now it's the squirmies every time. Tricks to finesse cleanups:

Enlist his help. Ask your baby to hold a fresh diaper, the diaper cream (lid on tight), or even his pants (once you can wriggle them off). It works for Paula Corrigan-Halpern of Chicago. She calls out, "I need a diaper assistant!" and her 16-month-old daughter, Roley, proudly holds the wipes box and gets changed without a struggle.

Jazz up the diapering area. Time to move beyond the mobile. Keep a music box next to the changing table, or hang wind chimes, silk flowers, or a beach ball overhead, low enough to be batted at. Decorate the wall with an unbreakable mirror or a collage of baby faces. Whatever you use, he'll learn he gets these treats only during changes.

Switch locales. Diaper on the floor so you don't have to worry about him falling. Then rotate the diapering area around the house (this might be a necessity, given his new mobility). Try changing him near a window so he can bird-watch or in the laundry room so he can see the clothes spinning around in the dryer.

Keep him busy. Give your fidgeter something to focus on, such as a TV remote, a calculator, a hair scrunchie, or a small flashlight. Put a sticker on the back of his hand and let him work on pulling it off (and sticking it somewhere new). He might get a kick out of opening and shutting an empty eyeglass case or a plastic food container. Or fill an empty wipes box with small toys and have him try to get them out.

Let him clean up. Give your little one a warm washcloth to wash his face (or chew on), a toothbrush, or a small hairbrush. Put a dab of lotion on his hand and have him rub it on his belly or arm.

Make music together. Give him a paper-towel tube to toot or an empty potato-chip bag to crinkle. Or pick a kids' tune with hand motions, like "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and have him do the moves while you sing.

Give him something to "read." Let him page through a special board book or a small photo album. Junk mail and toy catalogs can make for absorbing reading material as well.

Try it vertical. Learn to diaper while he's standing up (hand him a small toy to fiddle with) or switch to disposables that can be pulled on and off like underpants for quicker changes.

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