Stinky Fingers: Tips to Keep Curious Hands Clean on the Changing Table

IMG_0269Few things defeat parents more than poop on tiny fingers.  Poop on your child’s fingers makes you want to give up.  It makes you want to cry.  It represents the utmost violation of basic hygiene.  All day long, you work hard to keep your child reasonably clean (out of the dog bowl and Target urinal) but your efforts prove futile when they stick their hands in their own poop.  Defeat.  Pure defeat.

The risk of poop on fingers increases dramatically on the changing table.  Attention divides between changing dirty diapers and guarding against curious fingers.  At any moment, they strike.  I wipe furiously to clear poop.  I push his hands above his waist.  I grab another wipe.  The sneaky fingers crawl like spider legs to make another pass.  I swat them away.  Yet, inevitably, in a sleep-deprived moment–prior to coffee consumption–my defense fails.  Little fingers wave in the air covered in poop.  Defeat.  Pure defeat.

Despite Henry’s success maneuvering past my guard, I have learned a few techniques
to distract mischieveious hands.  These are not solutions, but ideas to buy you enough time to clean your child’s rear.  Below, I offer my most effective methods to prevent stinky fingers.

  1.  Call for Back-Up:  This is the easiest approach.  If someone else is available (spouse, grandma, friend, neighbor) ask them to hold your child’s arms.  Of course, your child will not like this and probably scream, but if you move quickly to change their diaper, it’s not so bad.  Plus, someone else should have to witness the black bean and carrot collage in your child’s diaper.
  2. Shiny Objects:  I’m not above handing my child a shiny, foreign object to hold on the changing table for a couple of minutes.  Henry gets to play with my iPhone on the changing table, which never fails to amuse him.  What special item can your child play with on the table?  Remember, the risk is your precious belonging could be thrown or end up in poop.  Move quickly to avoid disaster.
  3. Singing Combined with Silly Facial Expressions:  When no one else is around and shiny objects are unavailable, I resort to singing the silliest song that comes to mind and making goofy facial expressions.  Singing Sir-Mix-A-Lot or Sesame Street songs often does the trick.  Sometimes I combine beatboxing with shiny objects to buy myself enough time.  Again, move quickly.
  4. Large Books:  I borrowed this method from my wife.  She has mastered the art of using a large book to construct a tent-like structure over Henry’s head, which typically attracts his hands and moves his focus to the pictures.  In my mind, this is the toddler equivalent of magazines you read on the toilet.  Henry prefers to read about farm life on the changing table.
  5. Install Restraints: When all else fails I recommend installing metal restraints on the table.  One visit to the hardware store can make your life easier.  The restraints allow you to move at a comfortable pace and step aside to refill your coffee cup.  I’m kidding.  Please don’t take this idea seriously.  If you attempt this method, you will probably receive a knock on the door from a social worker.  Although, I admit, it is tempting to try sometimes.

I hope my techniques help you prevent stinky fingers.  They are not fail-safe, but combined with quick movement can lead to a positive changing table experience.  If these methods do not work and curious fingers run wild, I suggest watching the following video.  Earlier in the week, my wife introduced me to this Kickstarter campaign to end stinky fingers.  Pure genius!  Check it out.