Petty domestic disputes no.5: Who changes the nappy (diaper)

Now if you hold still, I can wipe this crap off your elbow and we can continue (source: be.convdocs.org)

Now if you hold still, I can wipe this crap off your elbow and we can continue (source: be.convdocs.org)

We play a game in our household. It’s not an acknowledged game – I’ve never spoken to my wife about it – but if this game was an olympic sport, I’d like to think we would both be medal contenders (or at the very least, representing our country.) The players need to have the mental agility of Professor Stephen Hawking on red bull and the reflexes of a monkey in a banana storm, because the cost of losing can literally leave you in the brown stuff. The game I’m talking about is “who changes the nappy (or diaper to our American cousins.)

During the week our roles are fairly clear. As a stay at home Dad, I change our son’s nappy regularly and without complaint. In the evening my wife does the same. The real fun starts on the weekends.

I remember the first time I had to change a nappy. I was visiting my wife in hospital, taking every chance to hold my perfect son in my arms when a rumbling from below told me that something was amiss. I tried to hand him back to my wife but she just smiled and imposed the first rule of who changes the nappy.

Rule no.1: If you are in physical contact with the child at the time, you change the nappy

So very carefully, I laid my boy down and opened the nappy, only to quickly throw my head back to avoid the jet of pee heading towards my face. With a soaked shoulder, I looked back to the nappy to find that somebody had laid tarmac around his backside.

“Is it meant to be that colour?” I asked.

“It’s called meconium,” my wife replied. “They have that for the first few days. The nurse says we should just use cotton wool and water to clean him.”

The smile on her face should have given me a warning. I dipped a piece of cotton wool into some water and started to wipe my sons backside, only to find that the cotton wool stuck to the tar like substance. It was during the next couple of hours as I struggled manfully to clean my boy without leaving his backside looking like a one-eyed Santa, that I swore to get out of this whenever possible. I get the feeling my wife was already there.

Over the years a number of other rules have developed. For example, if you walk into a room to find your child standing stock still, brow furrowed, face bright red with strain as their eyes bulge out on stalks; the following rule applies:

Rule no.2: If you witness the event, you must change the nappy

This can lead to all sorts of examples of temporary blindness or amnesia. I find it’s good to have a smartphone in your pocket as you can quickly whip it out and wander past the child feigning ignorance. I might get into trouble for always playing with my phone, but I’ll probably avoid having to change the nappy.

Some families have the this rule:

That's the idea (source: onedad3girls.com)

That’s the idea (source: onedad3girls.com)

Rule no.3: The person who smelt it first must change the nappy

This rule doesn’t work in our household because during the summer my wife suffers from hay fever and often has a cold during winter. At least she says she does. I have a suspicion that she might be exaggerating things to get out of changing nappies, but as I don’t have any proof there is a danger that I could be accused of having a severe lack of empathy. Instead, the rule gets ignored.

Rule no.4: Outsource

I’ve tried this many times over the years but it never seems to work. You would think that part of the joy of spending time with your Grandchild / nephew / niece would include dealing with a dirty nappy. Apparently not. Wet nappies, yes; dirty nappies, and the child is handed straight back to it’s parent, usually supported by a massive grin. My father is very proud of the fact that he’s never changed a nappy. I don’t believe you’ve really experienced life until you’ve been up to your elbows in somebody else’s shit, desperately not gagging on a smell that can only come from the pit of hell whilst wrestling a baby that suddenly seems to have more arms and legs than an octopus. He’s not convinced.

Rule no.:5 Taking it in turns

This rule is used quite often at home. It is both fair and easy to police. I have found from experience, though, that it can be overruled by the following clauses: I’ve had a bad day at work; I’m cooking / cleaning / busy; it’s my birthday; and my least favourite – just change the bloody nappy.

There is one rule, however, that must not be ignored.

Rule no.5: The nappy must be dealt with quickly

There are a number of reasons for this, not least the happiness and well being of the child, but as I’ve touched on previously here, baby poo is sentient and it hates being kept in enclosed spaces. Left unattended, the poo will break free within minutes, leaving your child covered from the back of the neck down to the ankles (I’m surprised scientists haven’t made the most of these strange, anti-gravitational propertied to produce the next range of space craft.) If there is one thing worse than changing a nappy, it’s holding a screaming child as it’s showered down, then rinsing it’s poo covered clothes.

So how do you decide who changes the nappy in your home? Who wins and who loses? Feel free to leave a reply with your experiences.