A very scientifically sound and important study.

Numerous nappy theories have been argued discussed and studied over the years;  cloth verses disposable, your turn as opposed to mine, and what the hell are we feeding this kid?

In this study we shall be looking at the equation concerning the ratio of hands to a single nappy change.


Put simply: How many hands does it take to change a nappy?

change a nappy

It is a well-known fact, that the two hands parents posses are not enough for this task alone. Reinforcements are required. This study shall attempt to determine just how many extra hands are required for the task.

First we must look at the participants involved; the baby, and the parent.

The Baby (Participant 1):

Babies are deceptive by nature.  As newborns they lull their hapless parents into a false sense of security by laying perfectly still for every nappy change.  However they soon reach their developmental milestones. The key change occurs when they learn to roll over. With this new-found skill comes the ability to test and challenge the parents nappy changing skills on a daily basis.

The Parent (Participant 2):

The parent is always sleep deprived, and often distracted by older siblings of the baby. These siblings often require the parent to assist with bottom wiping at the same time the parent is attempting the nappy change.  The parent has tried many distraction techniques over the years to make nappy changing a job for their mere two hands.  Methods such as singing the same song repeatedly and giving a toy to distract the baby, have all failed. Many parents have looked for alternative solutions such as duct tape. This has however been frowned upon, and the suggestion is that duct tape is only to be used for DIY purposes, and some 50 shades of grey inspired activities.


The Study:

This study was carried out on a change table in Participant 1’s nursery. Participant 1 was 10 months and 29 days old.  It is important to state at this point in the study that Participant 1 is of the male species, and therefore come equipped with an extra hazard during change times.

Participant 2 has 2 children, and has completed all relevant nappy changing training. She has chosen not to disclose her age as it has no bearing on the outcome of this study. Participant 2 had consumed her quota of caffeine, and was fit and healthy and firing on almost all cylinders at the time of the study.

The nappy being changed for the purpose of this study was a dirty one. Medium in size and measuring approximately 7 out of 10 on the nose offence scale.



  • 1 disposable nappy
  • 10 baby wipes
  • 1 nappy bag


How many hands does it take to change a nappy?

Hand 1 To hold Participant 1’s legs in the air by the ankles.

Hand 2 To complete all wiping and cleaning of poo from Participant 1’s bottom area, and removing old dirty nappy and replacing with new clean nappy.

Hand 3 To catch the escaped leg of Participant 1 and stop the foot landing in the dirty nappy and smearing poo on the change mat and the nursery wall.

Hand 4 To gently pin Participant 1 by the shoulders to prevent any attempts to dive off the change table head first.

Hand 5 To separate the wipes that are all stuck together and coming out as one continuous wipe.  Thus preventing the use of a whole pack of wipes being used on one nappy change.

Hand 6 To cover Participant 1’s extra hazard which has sprung a leak, and prevent Participant 2 from having wee in her eye, hair and mouth.

Hand 7 To catch any of the ‘distraction’ toys currently being thrown at Participant 2’s head by Participant 1.

Hand 8 To hold the hand of Participant 1 and desist them from trying to partake in any of the following activities; grabbing hold of their extra hazard, having a general rummage around down there, grabbing the dirty nappy and hurling it at Participant 2.

Hand 9 To hold the other hand of Participant 1 for the reasons stated above.

Hand 10 To gently push Participant 1’s tummy down onto the change mat, as he is currently demonstrating highly advanced contortionist skills whilst participant 2 still has his legs in the air.

Hand 11 To wipe the poo from the hand of Participant 2.

Hand 12 To retrieve the clean nappy that is now somehow on the floor.


So there we have the answer:

life love and dirty dishes


Further studies need to be conducted to ascertain how many additional hands are required in the event of a poonami.  A poonami is by definition; when the baby produces 5 times their own body weight of poo and it cannot be contained within the nappy they are wearing.

Currently the after effects of a poonami dealt with by only two hands involve;

  • full strip down and bath of the baby.
  • full strip down and shower of the parent.
  • A full antibacterial wipe down of the nursery and possible re-painting of the walls.
  • the burning of all clothes involved.

The effects of a poonami on the participating parents emotional state also requires further study.  Sitting in the corner and assuming the fetal position for two hours after the event, is not conducive to good parenting.

Please also check out the study How Many Eyes Do You Need For The School Run?


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Claire Kirby

48 Comments on How many hands does it take to change a nappy?

  1. Hilarious! I usually have to do it while he is on the run, with the babywipes. He never stays still for a second so laying while I change a nappy! Not a chance. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh god, It’s going to get so much worse once he’s walking! Seriously considering that duct tape 😉

  2. Love it! A very witty and cleverly written post. Duly shared on Facebook, lovely.

    We’ve just potty trained The Boy (hoorah), who was actually pretty sedate as a baby but put up good resistance to nappy changing as a toddler (as mentioned in the post I’ve linked!). Currently coming out the other side of a week of teething-related poonamis from the baby. Motherhood is so glamorous.

    Thanks for hosting #FridayFrolics

    • Ahh, Thanks for sharing lovely.

      No one warned me about poonami’s. I was psychologically ill prepared.

  3. hehehee – this is very funny! Thank you – I totally get it and we do things a little differently given that the girls were cared for by their Thai granny for ages – nappy changes are always done standing up. Still need a million hands though!

    • Nappy changing requires a serious skill set that employers should be thrilled to see on a CV!

    • Soon there will be a brief window of ‘nappies were so much easier’ when you begin the joy that it potty training. It is thankfully a brief window though!

  4. I’m soooooo glad I don’t ever have to change nappies again! Thank you for hosting #fridayfrolics xx

  5. Pah, this sounds familiar and like it’ll only get worse as Baby L gets older. We’re starting to get to the point where two hands aren’t enough and something untoward always happens (poo on hands, nappy in mouth, pulls drawers open etc).

  6. Haha, another fab post. My baby has just turned one and I definitely need more hands than I have! Nothing like a baby crawling away with a dirty nappy hanging off, or practicing stand-up-sit-down mid change. It’s always a relief when my husband is home and we can change him together. #fridayfrolics

    • Ah yes, the dual parent nappy change. One at the entertaining end, one at the business end!

  7. Hahaha brilliant Claire! Nappies seem a long time ago for me but my brother is just about to have another baby so I’ll be getting my skills (and hands) at the ready! xx

  8. Lol, brilliant and so very true! Especially the bit about the wipes all coming out as one super wipe. Nappy changes seem to be one of those times when parenting superpowers come into play – making two hands somehow miraculously manage to do the work of twelve! Thank you for hosting #FridayFrolic

  9. I had hoped that the outcome of this scientific study would result in a number of 8 or fewer. The much higher number must be attributed to an unwillingness to use ones legs (great for holding unwilling Participant #1’s shoulders in place) or ones teeth for separating the wipes (hopefully accomplished before they are covered in poo).

    I’ve often written that the ability to completely close a disposable, used nappy (diaper, for those of us in the US) with one hand is a severely underrated ability. I find it odd that this skill is never asked about on mortgage forms, job applications, or health forms.

    Thanks for beginning this study. I will be looking forward to updates as additional Participants are added to your study group. Having completed our first generation of 8 nappy-requiring participants, I have now embarked on full-time caregiving for the first in our next generation…so I’ll gladly share what evidence I collect.

    But beware the “ewwww” factor. Make it a great day!

    • Ha ha. I have had approval to go ahead with my next study which will focus on how many eyes you need for the school run!

  10. This really made me snort in my coffee this morning. Love it. We are almost out of the diaper stage and I really can’t wait! Last baby so no more in this house hopefully lol Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  11. There are so many things that involves my son that made me wish that I have so many hands. I thought that needing so many hands would end in nappy changing, I am wrong. School run needs so many hands and I only have 2 but at least 4 more would come in handy. This is a nice read =) #pocolo

  12. This made me laugh! I’m so glad we are past the nappies stage now. I use to have to hold them down with my leg while attempting to clean them up and not get covered in poo yourself. Oh what fun! #PoCoLo

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