Why Does My Baby Cry When I Change Her Diaper?

We all know the drill. Our baby is playing on the mat and we spot their diaper getting bigger, or you catch them with their poo-making face. The first thought I have? Oh, no, I’m going to have to change that! By now, I am reassured that all parents dread changing their baby’s diaper. The crying, the non-stop fidgeting, and sometimes aggressiveness these little ones can have when you change their diaper seems like they’re going under torture, doesn’t it?

If your baby cries non-stop when you change them and you’re having a hard time figuring it out, I’m here to help! After lots of diaper-changing, lots of trying everything to deal with it, and lots of tears (from baby and me!), it’s safe to say I have some advice and explanations to give you all. Don’t feel bad, you’ve got this and you are not the only one!

What I discovered about babies crying when parents change their diapers

Changing time has been proved to be distressing for almost all babies. Despite changing nappies seeming normal and mechanical for us adults, the moment brings all sorts of anxieties and disruption to our little ones. 

The reasons are many and you shouldn’t worry, it’s all perfectly normal! They range from your baby simply being cold to them trying to stay in charge of their bodies (yes, a complete power struggle). The good news is, there are also solutions for it all, and ways to make changing time enjoyable and quick for parents and babies. 

So what are the reasons for a crying baby during changing time? How can you avoid it and what do you need to know? Scroll down to know more!

Why does my baby cry when I change her diaper?

Here it is, the big mystery question every parent tries to figure out at one point. What are the actual reasons behind my baby crying during changing time? It quickly becomes a struggle for a mom to change her baby. She knows she has to do it often to prevent rashes and she knows it’s going to be a hard moment. So let’s first start by explaining that typical behavior. Here are the most known reasons why your baby cries when you change their diaper:

1. Your baby might be cold

Baby crying during diaper change because the environment is cold

For many babies, going from being warm and comfortable to suddenly removing your clothes can be annoying.

The temperature shift can be a bit dramatic for them, as they are still the most comfortable when they are swaddled and warm like they were in the womb. 

2. You might be changing your baby at a time where they are starting to get hungry and cranky

My daughter tends not to recognize the fact that she might be hungry, so it puts her in kind of a bad mood and she starts crying for absolutely everything!

Check the time and how long has your baby been without food or a snack. 

3. Your baby is uncomfortable

As mom, dad, nanny, or granny are pushing and tugging at clothes and diapers to get the baby into dry ones, and as their clothes are being pulled down and over their tiny heads, our sensitive little ones can be having an uncomfortable experience.

Automatically, they cry, and pull away themselves! Seems obvious now that we said it right?

4. As parents start dreading changing time, they unconsciously delay the moment

Sometimes, by the time you have brought yourself to change your baby, they’re already wet and have an itchy bum. Being already cranky, they are certainly going to cry.

So plan ahead and change them frequently. This might decrease their discomfort.

5. Your baby might have been in the middle of learning a new skill when you picked them up to get them changed

They might have been staring at something new, finally brought themselves to crawl or roll on their side, or even decided to grab an object they spotted.

We never know our little ones’ thought process so watch out for signs that they are in the middle of something and pick the right time to take them to the changing table.

6. Our determined little humans want to be in charge of their own bodies

This has become increasingly obvious to parents over the years and mommies and daddies are finally respecting that a little bit more. Their resistance and crying might come from that so let them be in charge in a way.

My daughter started at a very young age, putting her own nappy cream on her finger and applying it (not too well, let’s agree, but she at least thinks she’s in charge! *wink wink*).

Is it possible there are medical reasons for my baby to cry when I change her diaper?

Even though we have established that it is common for babies to cry when we change their diapers, some medical reasons might be behind it. Check with your pediatrician if you suspect at least the following:

1) Nappy rash. Red and irritated skin can be the cause of your baby’s crying. Consider a good rash cream, a change of brand of diapers, and frequent diaper changes.

2) Acid reflux. Most babies suffer from reflux and become uncomfortable when lying on their backs. To make them feel better, you can either use an anti-reflux pillow while you change them, or if they are old enough, you can change them standing up.

3) A more rare medical reason can be spina fida, which is a condition that causes discomfort because of nerve and spine damage. Even though this is diagnosed at birth or before, If you have any doubts, your pediatrician will need to be contacted.

How can I make changing time easier and avoid my baby crying when I change her diaper?

Now for the most important and useful part! How to make diaper-changing a positive experience. It mainly revolves around a calm atmosphere and lots of entertainment.

1) Try changing them standing up. If your baby is old enough to stand steadily, why not change their diaper standing up? Of course, try to make it easy for you as well. If this is a hassle, then just go on to other ways.

2) Use colorful toys and entertainment! I keep funny toys on the changing table that my daughter can play with when I’m changing her. It keeps her well-distracted and makes things faster. If someone else is with you, why not hand them a  puppet and get them doing voices!

3) Be fast and efficient! I like to keep a basket with all the products I’ll need to change my daughter’s diaper quickly and efficiently. An easy-to-grab stack of diapers, wipes, nappy cream, and a set of changes of clothes.

4) You can also keep a tiny blanket on the changing table so you can cover their tummy and keep them warm while you change them.

5) Take advantage of that moment to connect with your baby. Look them in the eyes, smile, make funny noises, kiss their tummy and their tiny feet, talk to them and sing to them. They’ll enjoy it as much as you will!

6) If they’re a bit older, get them to help! Let them hand you the cream, the wipes, the diaper, and so on. They can even try to apply the cream themselves, this is guaranteed fun.

FAQs – Some frequent diaper changing questions you might have

How long can I leave a poopy diaper on?

A bowel movement generally contains lots of acid content that could make your baby uncomfortable and irritate their skin. To avoid that, changing a baby every 2 to 3 hours is ideal. Try to avoid changing them while they sleep unless you keep them lying down and do it while they’re sleeping deeply. 

How do you know your baby crying from diaper rash pain?

All you have to do is look at your baby’s skin. Check whether it’s starting to get red and irritated and try to prevent it by applying changing cream in between every diaper change. Having a diaper on your skin all day and night is quite harsh. Also, make sure the right wipes and ointment are used. Oils and aloe vera work wonders! 

How do I know my baby is crying because of a power struggle?

It all depends on personality traits. Some babies are born bossy and determined. You can make eye contact, show that you’re taking care of them, let them be in charge in some way (helping or even applying the cream themselves if they’re older) and take them through the steps so they learn. 

You can also have them change their own baby dolls and feel what it is to care for someone so they can appreciate your care as well.

What age should a child be potty trained?

This depends on your child and how ready he or she is. If diapers are starting to annoy him or her, it’s time to at least start trying. Ideally, you can start at 2 years old. No pressure, but if the crying during a diaper change is getting unbearable, then it’s worth it to go ahead and start the potty training journey. 


So close your eyes, breathe and count to 10. You are not the only parent whose nightmare is changing time! Just remember, it is not about you. Our tiny humans are slowly learning about life, feelings and emotions. The good news is we can help them through it and make things easier for us parents. 

By following this article’s tips and understanding the reasons behind their fussiness, we now know why a baby cries when we change her diaper and what to do about it. Keep things calm, entertaining and organized and it shall be okay!

Read more about why toddlers can have a difficult time with diaper changing here.

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Lynn is a 30-something writer for 1happykiddo and mom of a 4 year-old little girl. When she’s not busy taking care of her daughter or writing, she likes to relax with a book, meditate and connect with loved ones. Oh, and cooking good food too!

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