Changing Perceptions On Changing Diapers

July 31, 2011 · 16 comments

in Daily Life, Our "View" of Babies

Diaper Changing

It seems ad executives are always dreaming up new ways to sell the same old thing; trying to capture a larger part of the market share. Diapers are big business, and it seems once parents have found a brand that works for them, they are pretty loyal to that brand, which can make it tough to convince them to try something new. I understand ad executives have got a job to do, and I don’t argue with their right to do it. A common way to sell consumers on something  is to use humor, and to try to show them how buying a certain product or service will solve a problem they are having. I understand the approach, but don’t appreciate it when babies  are perceived as the “problem,” and  the humor comes at their expense.

Huggies brand (Kimberly Clark) diapers is at it again. They are launching a new ad campaign today to sell  “Little Movers” Slip On Diapers-essentially a more absorbent “pull up” diaper, with Velcro tabs along the sides. These “new” diapers are intended to make it easier for parents to change wiggly, or active babies. It’s not the product I have a  problem with, it’s the way babies are  are referred to in the ad that I take exception to. The terms used to describe the “problem” babies? “Rolling Pins,” ” Acrobutts,”  “Streakers,” and  “Booty Scoochers.”  The ad slogan?  “Catch. Slip On. Release.”  Chris Turner, a creative director at Ogilvy,  who worked on the campaign had this to say about the slogan:

“At times, these kids can be like little wild animals and you just want to catch the little guy, quickly do your change, and then do your release. It really is just a more clever way of communicating ‘as easy as 1-2-3.’ ”

Really, Mr. Turner??? Little wild animals???  Simply  a  clever way of communicating  ‘as easy as 1-2-3.’ ??? I pity your child. I’d like to suggest to you that human babies are not little wild animals, nor are they objects, and they don’t deserve to be made the “butt” of jokes by “clever” ad executives such as yourself . Further, diapering a baby should have nothing in common with fishing at all,  as implied by the  ‘Catch and Release’ campaign tag line.

Let me suggest that the “help” parents might need transforming difficult diaper changing times into more enjoyable experiences for both adult and baby, doesn’t come from the particular diaper they buy or use, but from the  attitude and sensitivity they bring to the task at hand.

Magda Gerber had this to say about diapering:

How many times do you think a baby gets diapered? Six or seven thousand times. Why don’t we do it nicely? Why don’t we make it a learning experience? Why don’t we want a baby to enjoy being diapered? Diapering is  very important. Diapering is sometimes viewed as an unpleasant chore… a time separate from play and learning.  But in the process of diapering we should remember that we are not only doing the cleaning, we are intimately together with the child. We are all affected, negatively or positively, by cumulative experiences in our lives. One of the first such cumulative experiences is diapering, involving much of the child’s and parent’s time and energy during those first, most impressionable two to three years of the child’s life. While being diapered, the baby is close to the parent and can see her face, feel her touch, hear her voice, observe her gestures, and learn to anticipate and know her.

In How to Love a Diaper Change, Janet Lansbury gives tips for turning a diaper change into an enjoyable, connected time for baby and parent. I don’t know about you, but I think if I was a baby I’d appreciate being changed by someone who approached me with some sensitivity and respect, and saw and treated me as a person, instead of an object. I might be more able and willing to co-operate if I was included in the process, instead of having something done to me. I think babies pick up on, and respond  to our attitudes and approach to them, and if we act like we are in a rush to get through an unpleasant chore, they may respond in kind.

Won’t you join me in defending and speaking up on behalf of babies who can’t speak for themselves? What are your thoughts on Huggies newest ad campaign, and Magda Gerber’s ideas about diapering babies with respect?

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Nathalie Brown July 31, 2011

Working with child behaviour day in and day out, this article just destroys all the hard work we are doing separately, but in way together, as we share the same philosophy in trying to get across that children are just that- children, not animals, not a label that is imposed on them.
Respect is a two way street, with children and communication being the key to most things, and understanding of what a child sees through their eyes and in their world.

Lisa August 1, 2011


Thanks so much for commenting! I just want to clarify, it’s the article that was printed in the New York Times that you object to, and see as taking away from the hard work we are doing separately and collectively to advocate for respect for children, right? And not my blog post ;)?

anna ~ random handprints July 31, 2011

wonderfully put, and i couldn’t agree more. while i can’t say every diaper change at our place is a perfeclty executed moment, it is so true that the baby or toddler should be apporached with respect and kindness. i love that my now almost-two-year-old will bring me his diaper, with his request “diaper change” and then (usually) even throw out the old one!

ellen perry kaji July 31, 2011

Dr. Becky Bailey ( addressed this (diapering) and so many other intimate opportunities for connection and attunement that are available to parents, caregivers and friends of infants and toddlers in her first ever seven day Conscious Discipline Summer Institute on Infants and Toddlers in Orlando, FL, July 23-29, 2011. A life changing experience!

Lisa August 1, 2011


I don’t believe we’ve met yet? Tell me more? One of Dr. Bailey’s books was mentioned in the blog post “Always A Bundle of Joy” which was posted on the Positive Parenting site.

ellen perry kaji August 2, 2011

I’m not familiar with this title. Other books she has authored: “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline”, “There’s Got To Be A Better Way”, “I Love You Rituals”, “Conscious Discipline”. I suggest checking out the website, which includes all of her products, upcoming workshops, research, etc.

Lisa August 2, 2011

The book that was mentioned in the blog post was “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.” I’m not familiar with Dr. Bailey’s work. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

jeanne July 31, 2011

Lisa – ohhh, this post struck me at the core and I am not even currently caring for infants. So true, so well written, and makes me remember that all interactions – ALL – affect our relationship from one moment to the next. The way we treat and engage with [a baby, young child, a sister, our spouse] affects how we are treated in return. Loved Magda’s comment about how many times we diaper a baby, 6-7000x, and “why don’t we do it nicely?” I agree. Why don’t we do most things nicer?? thx again.

Kathleen (amoment2think) August 1, 2011

Lisa, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I believe babies and children (all of us really) should be treated with respect. And I 100% agree that diapering should be an enjoyable experience and not something ‘done to’ a child.

But I feel this is a bit of an over reaction. Let me try to explain. My favorite nick-name for my child is monkey. I call her by her name all the time, but I also call her monkey pretty regularly. To me, this nickname, tells her that she is valued and respected for her ‘wild animal’ ways. I love that she is full of energy, never sits still and is pretty darn good climber. To me, this isn’t disrespect, is it affectionate. So I don’t see anything wrong with teasing that a child is a ‘wild animal’. To me, it doesn’t imply that I respect her as an individual human any less. After all, we, as human, are animals. Now I can’t speak for the ad execs…. I think that much of society could do with more respect for our children… but I hope you see my point.

Beyond that, I am perfectly comfortable with humor and our children. I often write blog posts which, at least in intention, are meant to have an humor component to them. The butt of the joke is typically me, but sometimes aspects of parenting and crazy things my kid does. That doesn’t mean I respect her any less.

I respect how strongly you feel about this and, as I say, I think you make some really great points. I just don’t entirely agree. 🙂

Lisa August 1, 2011

Hi Kathleen,

I so appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. I don’t generally object to humor either- especially in regard to children, and parenting, because it’s a tough job, and I think looking at it in perspective and laughing about it all sometimes, can be good for all of us.

Erma Bombeck is one of my favorite writers.She often wrote about children and motherhood using self deprecating humor, and I roll on the floor laughing when I read her essays. I don’t think of her as disrespectful towards babies at all. Did you read Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter? Again, laugh out loud funny, and yet tender, and sweet at the same time.

I also see a big difference between your affectionate nickname for your daughter, and some marketing person comparing babies to “wild animals,” in a major news publication. For one thing, the love and respect you have for your daughter is abundantly clear in the way you write about her in your blog. It’s one thing for you, as a loving mother, to use an affectionate nickname like “monkey” for your little girl, but in my eyes, it’s another matter entirely when someone compares children in general to wild animals, or objectifies them, especially in the name of selling a product.

I can’t imagine you ever using such terms in your blog to describe children in general, because it seems to me you are a respectful, thoughtful, kind person, and you recognize that while coping with a frustrating toddler stage can push one to the limits of their patience, it’s still not helpful to use derogatory terms to describe children.

I just don’t see how ads like this serve babies or parents. The implication is, “Diapering your baby is a pain in the butt. Buy our product, and it will make dealing with your “little pain” easier.” Not the “help” or message parents need in my opinion.

I love what Gina @thetwincoach said about this: “The more parents are told kids are something to be tamed/controlled,the less parents connect to kids.” This post by Positive Parenting- Always A Bundle of Joy– asks,”Do you think all the labels we have pinned on young children, such as “brats” and “terrible twos” and “tyrannical threes” may have distorted our lens through which we view them?”

For my part, I’d like to see a little more awareness and sensitivity all round. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply, and for making me think!

Briana Weber August 1, 2011

I originally read the article from the NY Times and was waiting through the entire article for it to come around to the horrid way they were talking about who the child is vs. their idea of making life easier on parents. I was very angry by the time I finished, especially with the fact that this large corporation is directly affecting how parents view their child. We are surrounded by advertising and marketing campaigns daily, and they directly influence parents, especially those who have no experience with children. It’s no wonder we’re raising a generation of children who are out of touch with their emotions, when it is reinforced through society to rush through these potentially intimate moments with the most important people in their lives.
I’d like to challenge these companies to find a way to support healthy emotional and social relationships from birth and make a profit. If large corporations were able to change their outlook, it just might change the world a little bit.

Dave Higgs-Vis @ Folkabout Baby August 2, 2011

Ugh, that campaign is lame. I understand the “need” for ad execs to come up with new ways to push old products, but this particular campaign is definitely off-sides.

That being said, your discussion of respectful diapering has inspired me to write a post about it.

Thank you!

Jaime November 5, 2011

I really appreciated this article, as a parent I am very aware of the person I am and the things I do, and how they will shape my children. A good point was made here, and in reading it, I realize that its not only my morals,values and attitudes that will shape my children but that of our society. Speaking up and saying we want to change how we put our messages out there is an awareness strategy that I agree with.

Lisa November 10, 2011


Thank you for commenting! I like to think of it as “changing the world one diaper at a time!” You are making a difference in your children’s lives by being aware and conscious, and this in turn will make a difference in the way they interact with others. I also believe that all of us- parents and others who care for children, can make a difference by speaking up and taking a stand for respectful public discourse when it
comes to our children,who can’t speak for themselves. The way children are talked about and portrayed in ad campaigns and movies, etc Does make a difference.

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