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The Need to be Free: How to stop your toddler from taking off his diaper at bedtime

Baby holdding diaper on bedYou tuck your two-year-old in, read him a book and sing him a song. He kisses you goodnight and you leave him all snug and warm in his diaper and his Spiderman pajamas.

When you check on him an hour later, he’s sleeping peacefully…completely naked. His pyjamas are on the floor and his diaper is lying in a heap beside him. Worst of all, the sheets are wet because he’s peed the bed. Does this sound familiar?

For some parents this is a daily struggle. They insist their child keep his diaper on at naptime and bedtime, but every time they leave the room he peels it off and tosses it aside.

So why do young children like to remove their diapers?

Actually, a surprising number of toddlers do this. It’s perfectly normal and usually just a bid for attention, but can also be because of boredom or the sheer novelty; after a couple of years of having diapers and clothes put on by parents every day, it’s pretty exciting for a toddler to suddenly figure out how to take them off.

While all parents want to encourage a healthy amount of independence, this can be an irritating habit, especially for the one doing the laundry. Here are a few things you can try:

  1. Evaluate your toddler’s schedule. If he’s taking his diaper off at naptime every day, maybe he isn’t tired enough when you put him to bed. It might be that you need to reassess naptime and make it a bit later.
  2. Give him “naked time” during the day. If your toddler wants to feel the freedom of wearing no clothes, let him! Make a point of giving him some time every day when he can practice taking his clothes and diaper off and on if he wants to. When you put him to bed, remind him that bedtime and naptime are not naked time.
  3. Monitor your reaction. What do you do when this happens? Do you tend to make a big deal out of it and get angry? Do you smile or laugh about it? Remember that attention is attention, and even negative attention can still be enough to encourage the behavior. It’s best to stay calm and gently remind your child to leave his diaper on when he’s in bed.
  4. If all else fails, duct tape works wonders to stop little fingers from prying off the diaper tape. You may need to wrap it all the way around to stop your little Houdini from figuring out a way to get it off, but it should do the trick.

Remember that this, like all phases of a child’s life, won’t last forever. After awhile your toddler will lose interest in the game and find something new to frustrate you! ;-)

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