What is Stand-up Diapering?

We made another change to James’s room last week and I’m pretty excited about it.

My husband flipped James’s mirror so it’s vertical (it’s attached to the wall with 3M strips, so this was pretty easy), and added a pull-up bar.  We’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but life has been busy!

You can purchase pull-up bars from Montessori shops or Etsy, but honestly, it is so simple to make yourself with some basic supplies from Home Depot (I say it’s simple, my husband did it, but it did not take him long).  We used this tutorial as a guide.

James can already pull up on the mirror with no bar, by walking up with his hands, but we wanted a pull-up bar so that we could start doing stand-up diapering.

Are you familiar with stand-up diapering?  If you have / have had a baby, you likely know the FIGHT that diaper changes can become.  Once baby becomes mobile, he no longer wants to be laying flat on his back (at least this has been true for James).  James started to really fight diaper changes and he is very strong!

Once baby can stand, many Montessori classrooms and homes switch to stand-up diapering.  The child holds on to something and you change the diaper while the child stands.  We installed a pull-up bar, but I have also heard of children holding onto the bathtub or a low shelf or table for stand-up diaper changes.

The idea is to recognize baby’s new developmental stage and to help him be a more active participant in the diaper changing process.  Doing things with baby, rather than to / for baby, is a big focus in Montessori.  I really like having the pull up bar in front of a mirror so that James can see what I’m doing as I talk about it.  Right now, he helps by carrying his diaper from the closet over to the bar.  Eventually, he will be able to help more by undoing his diaper tabs, pulling down his pants, etc.  I also talk through each step of what I’m doing.

If you have an older baby / toddler who fights diaper changes, it can also be helpful to have two designs of diapers and let them choose: “Would you like an Elmo diaper or a Big Bird diaper?” so that they feel they have some say in the matter.  We’re not to this point yet, but I’ve definitely seen it help with toddlers.

Right now, we are still getting used to the process and it can be a bit tricky at times.  James is very steady standing with one hand holding on, but sometimes he doesn’t want to hold on and chooses to sit down.  I sometimes need to support him with one hand while I finish changing his diaper.  It’s still easier than wrestling with him on the floor though and he seems happier about it.

While this is very new in our home, I used to be an assistant in a Montessori toddler classroom before I got my 3-6 certification and stand-up diapering worked wonderfully there!  I cannot imagine trying to lay down one of those big two year olds to change their diaper, that sounds so much harder to me!  I’m hopeful that this will keep diaper changes from becoming a regular battle in our house.

As a reminder, I am Montessori trained for 3-6 year olds, but not for infants and toddlers.  I found this article from the American Montessori Society website very helpful for Montessori diapering / toileting.

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  1. What an interesting idea! I guess I’m fortunate in that my just turned 2-year old is pretty docile. He went through a short period about 6 months ago where he would fuss about getting his diaper changed but usually singing (loves Old McDonald) or distracting him would get us through. It’s not as hard as you would think to have a 2-year old up on a changing table, his legs hang off but it’s nice to not have to bend down. My 4-month old is already trying to roll off during changes (he’s more feisty than his brother was!) and my 2-year old needs to begin to work toward potty training, so I am definitely going to keep this technique in mind for the future!

    1. That is great that your two year old doesn’t mind! No reason so change something that’s working 🙂 My little guy has hated diaer changes for the past few months, so I was counting down until he could stand well enough to switch!

  2. This is interesting. Part of me says that the ‘fight’ is part of training them. They cannot always have what they want when they want. Another part of me likes the idea of recognizing they new abilities and allowing them to me a part of it. My question though would be what about messy diapers? I can see my little running all with a dirty booty and that could be a lot of a mess!

    1. It has been surprisingly fine with messy diapers! He usually cooperates with standing pretty well, but if he is not cooperating, I hold him up with one hand while I clean him and explain that we have to finish the diaper before he can go explore. We’ll see how it changes as he gets older, but so far so good!

    1. Thank you! That’s great that you wound up naturally changing your son standing up anyway. My little guy had started HATING diaper changes ever since he became mobile so this has been a big relief!

    1. We thankfully haven’t had any big messes so far! I just take the diaper off kind of carefully and get it out of the way so he doesn’t step in it lol. Sometimes I have to hold him up with one hand while I finish cleaning him if it’s taking a while, but he usually cooperates so far!

  3. That’s a great idea. All the toddler’s I’ve babysat have, thankfully and surprisingly, actually loved getting their diaper changed on their back, but I can see why many toddlers wouldn’t! They’d want to take advantage of their new freedom as much as possible. The pull-up bar is clever. You’re giving me a lot of great ideas for the nursery. 🙂

  4. That’s great that the toddlers you’ve babysat haven’t minded! As soon as my little guy became mobile, he hated being put on his back for any reason. He really likes to move! Thanks for reading!

    1. It’s definitely not something I would have been familiar with if I hadn’t seen it where I worked. I probably wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t seen it done there, but so far we’re liking it! Thanks for reading!

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