After working with infants for several months, my 12-year-old daughter was ready to face the next duty.
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"So, dear, would you like to learn how to change a diaper?"
She had watched me change countless babies over the years, so this wasn't a novel experience for her.
When I was a new mom, most of the training I had came from classes offered by Washington County Hospital. I took every class available, but it still took my husband and me a half hour to change and dress our son the very first time. He was so tiny. I was afraid that I would hurt him.
I wanted my daughter to be more confident than I was, especially if she decides to start babysitting sometime soon.
She would need this training, and she readily agreed to listen to my step-by-step directions.
First, I told her, don't place a baby on a cold changing table. Cover the table with a blanket or a cloth diaper so the baby isn't startled by the cold surface.
While placing the baby on the table, keep one hand underneath his head and neck for support. The baby isn't strong enough to hold up his head on his own.
After hearing these explanations, my daughter easily performed those two steps.
I told her to keep at least one hand on the baby while reaching for wipes or diapers. It only takes a second for a baby to roll over and fall off the table. Lightly placing a hand on the baby's abdomen protects the baby.
My daughter was listening and performing each step very carefully.
The next step is to undo any snaps or buttons in the diaper area. Softly talking to the baby during this time helps him feel secure. My daughter did this part almost instinctively.
Peel up the two flaps on each side of the diaper. Carefully lift the baby's legs by the ankles and remove the diaper from underneath his bottom.
Using a diaper wipe, clean the baby from front to back. Cleaning from front to back is especially important for girls in order to prevent bacterial infection.
Place a new diaper underneath the baby, making sure the side with the tabs is underneath the baby's bottom.
Bring the front of the diaper up to the baby's stomach and fold over the tabs from the back so they attach to the front of the diaper.
At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my teaching skills, but that feeling didn't last long.
Taking a few steps away from the changing table, I began to tackle another task.
I heard her say, "Mom .... tights????"
Oh. I hadn't told her the best way to put on a little girl's tights: Work from the bottom up, and pull the waist band up to the waist.
It was something I thought she would know.
As a teacher, I should know not to take anything for granted, especially when instructing children about an important duty.
Oh, I almost forgot one last thing: Carefully pick up the baby and give him a gentle hug. You just might get a hug in return.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.