Literacy at Home: The Change Table

From birth to potty-training, parents and caregivers will change a LOT of diapers, and a LOT of outfits, both of which can be unpleasant tasks with young children. Many children simply do not want to stop having fun. However, change tables can be a great place to incorporate some of the practices that support early literacy learning, such as talking, singing, and playing.

While on a change table, your baby or toddler’s face is a perfect distance from yours. They are able to watch your facial expressions, as well as the movement of your mouth and tongue to learn many early language skills. It can also be a great few minutes to engage and connect with your child.

Here are some fun ways that you can use diaper and clothing changes to talk, play, or sing with your child to grow their literacy skills at the same time. Try choosing a few to incorporate into your daily routines, and watch your child learn along with you.

Talk

  • Talk about the parts of the body. Try using silly voices, or tickling each part as you name it.
  • If you have décor on the walls, you can point out and name items. Talk about colours, or count numbers of things. 
  • Show and describe each clothing item. “Today let’s wear the blue shirt! Do you see the puppy on it?”
  • This can be a good time to go over the schedule of the day, talking to your child about what activities might be planned.
  • Give your baby a small object to hold their interest, such as a rattle, squeaky toy or even a small book or baby safe mirror. You can talk to your baby about what they see, what the object does, the colours, the shape, etc.

Pro tip: Be sure to give your child a chance to respond with whatever level of words / babble they are using. Responding back to them gives them a chance to learn the back and forth exchange of conversation.

Play

  • Peek-a-boo is a great and easy to do game at the change table. Try using your child’s clothes to hide your face, or theirs, before they put them on.
  • You can kiss or pretend to eat your child’s feet before putting on socks, or their hands as they come out of shirt sleeves.
  • You can tickle or blow raspberries on your child’s tummy or legs.
  • Try “This Little Piggy” with toes or fingers. Or make up new words for what each digit is doing.

Pro tip: Sometimes the sillier you are the more fun can be had. Be repetitive with your games and watch your child learn to anticipate what’s coming.

Sing

There are loads of great songs and rhymes that work very well on a change table. Some familiar favorites like “Twinkle Twinkle,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” or the “ABC’s” can work great, as can any of your child’s favourite songs.

Here are a few fun ones if you are looking for something new.

“Lift One Foot”

Incorporating bicycle leg pumps into a song can be great for gassy babies.

“Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”

Body Songs are also wonderful for the change table. “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is repetitive and helps your child learn their body parts. We love this slightly different version for babies.

“Spots, Spots, Spots” or “Round and Round”

After the change is all over, try a fun tickly rhyme!

Pro-tip: If a song or rhyme has actions, you can sing with actions once before changing your baby’s diaper, without actions during the actual changing, and with actions again once the diaper has been changed.