05 June 2007

A better way to lift your baby's legs during diaper changes

Darryl documented how he lifts his baby in preparation for a diaper change:

I’ve got a technique (hack) that I don’t recall described anywhere else, and I’ve not seen anyone else do (not that I’ve made a survey or anything), but it makes a big difference when getting ready to change my daughter’s diaper.

Basically, I always want to put the clean diaper under her before taking off the foul one. (AND I have the tub of wipes opened and at the ready before unleashing the Gates of Perdition. But anyway.)

The way I used to lift her legs is to grab both ankles with one hand, putting my index finger in between to keep the ankle bones from rubbing together. Lift, and slide the diaper underneath. Neither of us really liked that technique, she would twist and I had to lift her legs up all the way before her butt left the ground.

However I’ve come across a method that is far more comfortable for me and Baby. My hack is that, I slide the forearm of my 'lifting' arm under one (nearest) knee, and put the fleshy part of my hand under the back of her other (far) knee. That hand now can grab gently between her shin and her knee. Now when I lift my arm, both legs go up at the same time!

She can’t twist much, either accidentally or when changing her in mid-protest. I have much better control, and I still have a free hand to slide the diaper. And her legs stay bent so she's comfortable as well. Everyone happy.


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Great hack! I have used a variation of the ankle grab for years. Instead of lifting, I gently push the legs back and bend my sons kneed towards his chest.

It works, but I think I am going to give your method a try. Thanks for sharing.

Great idea! I used ankle grab with my squirming 18 month old this morning and will try this hack next time I get the chance (not that I'm looking forward to it, though)

I was trying to figure out the dynamics of this movement when I realized why it wasn't working for me mentally - I change my kids on the floor (or bed, or wherever I am - stopped using a changing table LOOOOooooong ago). So no sideways to the parent thing - they're changed with their feet pointing toward me (my legs on either side of them - helps with the rolling thing, and allows me to use a leg to keep the other twin from interfering with the diaper change of the one being changed). Granted, we're past the days of poop explosions - this would have been a bad idea the day that one of my kids pooped mid-change...

Trying to think if there's a way I can use this without rotating my arm badly. Hmm.

Thanks! That will be useful for the 10% of diaper changes that take place lying down. Anyone else have a kid who insists on standing up for changes?

Mine insisted on standing up whether we did diapers or pull-ups. When we did diapers, and we were in restrooms with the changing tables, it was great that we already knew how to change standing him up.

Once cleaned, he would lean with his back against me, and I would open the diaper and place it between my chest and his back, and then lift the diaper between his legs, and then pull the tabs across to stick. Works in airplanes as well, when the changing tables are too small to use anyway.

I'd grab the pants between the calves and lift him by the pants, getting both legs at once. Odd maybe, but it worked.


I used the pants grab quite a bit with the boy - if you grasp the pants just right, you can immobilize the legs. This was a requirement for him. Unless you liked cleaning up the whole house after a diaper change.


I used a variation on this with my daughter who also was usually changed on a flat surface. I'm right handed, so adjust instructions if you're not. With the baby between your legs (I was usually kneeling) slide your left arm under her right calf, grasping her left knee/calf with your fingers curled under and your thumb over the kneecap, then lift/push to elevate her diapered area. If she's squirmy, change the angle slightly so that her right knee is compressed between your forearm and bicep. As she got older, I had to be more careful about tucking that long right leg under my arm so she didn't kick me in the face!

And I'm glad to hear that we weren't the only parents to not use a change table.

I have a solution for the squirmy babies you are trying to change. I put my leg across their chest and then change the diaper. They cannot move, it doesn't hurt because I don't have my weight on them and I have both hands free to change the diaper.

This is how I do it, too, Darryl! I started lifting him this way when his feet (with his legs straight up in the air) started hitting the shelf above the changing table. I wish I'd done it this way from the beginning.

@ hedra:

I think this would work on the floor as well. If I'm facing the baby's feet, I would use the same technique, just turn my arm so it lines up with baby's knees.

@ Myrcurial:

We always took off all pants, socks etc before changing, the risk of getting the clothing involved was too high with our high-production squirmer.

@ Carly

Thanks! I was not sure if this hint was insightful, or just common sense, or useless. This was my first submission :)

Thank you for this! I have been using it for a couple of months now and feel quite grateful.

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