Diaper: how to change it and how to remove it according to Montessori pedagogy

Diaper change is often thought of as a boring (if not annoying) routine and spannolimage as a difficult, tiring phase, on the verge of crisis. Yet you can look at these moments in a completely different way, like moments of closeness and pampering with our children and as excellent opportunities to practice building a solid, balanced and trust-based relationship and for promote self-development of the child, in full respect of the philosophical and pedagogical thought of Maria Montessori.

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"Obviously Montessori did not give systematic indications on how to change the baby's diaper, or on how to take it off" he says. Sonia Zecchi, Montessori educator and co-founder of the Montessori Space in our city. "But she proposed a scientific method of approach to the child, which starts from his own careful observation to understand their psychophysical needs and react accordingly. "And it is precisely from this approach that we can start to make the diaper change a unique and privileged moment in building a relationship with our child.

The change of the newborn

"In the first weeks and months of a child's life, everything passes through our relationship with him and it is through the type of relationship that we establish that we pass on the awareness of the environment that surrounds him and the trust in his skills and in us. ”Explains Zecchi. “That's why diaper changes shouldn't be done hastily, just to clean up and go, but experienced as moment of meeting, of sweetness, in which we are aware that we are allowing ourselves to touch the delicate skin of the baby and he abandons himself to our touch ".

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According to Zecchi, the keywords become harmony, beauty, trust: calm gestures, not abrupt, accompanied by the sound of the voice explaining what you are doing. No "violence" to the child, but also no disgusting comments or expressions: according to the educator, the message that must pass is that there is nothing bad that comes from the baby, that life is beauty, that one can confidently entrust oneself to one's relationship with one's mother, father, or even any nanny or nursery school teacher.

The diaper is changed "with the baby", not "the baby", as if it were a doll or, even worse, against his will

Maria Giovanni Iavicoli, educator of the Montessori Birth Center of the city, also invites us to think about the fact that in an instant the newborn passes from the fluidity and uniformity of the amniotic fluid to a variable environment, full of stimuli, sometimes uncomfortable, like the surfaces on which we place it. “That's why we have to use as much as possible fluid, continuous, uninterrupted movements and prefer comfortable clothing for the baby, which does not force it too much and facilitates the changeover moment ". And again: "At home we should always try to change it in the same place, so that it has references and can orient itself and take possession of the space that surrounds it, and we should always try to involve it, with our gaze and voice, announcing what we are to do, even when he is very small ".


“Without ever losing sight - continues Iavicoli - what he is communicating to us. Even when he is very young, the child has a way of letting us know how he feels and not only with crying: for example, if he is nervous or unhappy his movement can become uncoordinated, confused, and then we will have to adjust ourselves accordingly, because the goal it must be indulging pleasure and limiting displeasure ".


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The change of the older child

Of course, as the baby grows, things can change: when he gets up or begins to walk he may no longer feel like lying there on his stomach to have his diaper taken off and put on. “In this case a good solution could be the change on your feet”Advises Zecchi, underlining that this is not, however, an obligation. “There is no past age in which the diaper must necessarily be changed on the feet. There are the needs, the needs, the preferences of the child. If it is he who 'asks' to do so and the situation allows it, why not? Conversely, if he likes to continue lying down, why not? ”.

Not only that: what can be done when the child begins to move is involve him more in the whole exchange ritual. "You can ask him to go get his clean diaper, or throw the dirty one in the special bucket," says Iavicoli. “Not as an obligation, but because children have great satisfaction in receiving and carrying out these tasks independently. Of course, however, it is necessary that the environment be set up on a child-friendly basis, that the little one can move around safely and can easily reach what he needs ".


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Taking off the diaper with the Montessori philosophy

The approach does not change when it comes to removing the diaper. Also in this case it shouldn't be an imposition, a decision taken from above, but the facilitation of a path that should begin with the child himself, in response to his neurological and psychophysical development. “Again, the Montessori teaching is that of observe the child and take the time to understand its signals: do not anticipate it, do not press it, do not superimpose our rhythms and our expectations on its potential of the moment ”explains Iavicoli.

Of course, it is not easy to learn to read the baby's signals, it may take some time, but little by little you succeed. “Thus, for example, he learns to recognize when the child is peeing in the diaper - says Zecchi - and then he can be asked if he wants to try to do it in the potty and allow him to do the first tests. Then, little by little, the child himself will ask to do it in the potty, or go directly to the bathroom when he feels the urge ”.

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Obviously, the environment must be adequately prepared to welcome this new stage of the child's autonomy. “The first step will be put a potty in the bathroom even before the little one needs it, so that he can familiarize himself with this object, whose usefulness and use we will explain to him in the meantime ”continues Zecchi. And with a view to promoting autonomy - we remember that Maria Montessori's motto for the first years of a child's life is "Help me do it alone" - it could be useful, as the child progresses in using the potty, to also make tools available so that he can throw the pee, clean the potty and wash his hands. “Again, it must not be an obligation - recommends Iavicoli - but the construction of the possibility of making him do it. The point is to facilitate, through an adequate preparation of the environment, the fabric of skills that the child is developing ".


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