An expert in the field, Deanne Carson, has suggested a rather unconventional approach to diaper changing: asking babies for permission.
Carson, a prominent Australian researcher, educator, author, and mother, believes that this practice can help foster a culture of consent and respect.
While the idea may raise some eyebrows and ignite a debate, let’s delve into the potential benefits of this approach.
Carson clarifies that she does not expect verbal consent from infants since they are unable to communicate through speech.
Instead, she emphasizes the importance of offering respect and reading their body language.
By introducing the notion that “I respect you as a human, I see you, and you matter,” Carson aims to instill in babies the understanding that their bodies belong to them.
It’s crucial to note that Carson does not advocate for leaving babies in soiled diapers.
Rather, she suggests taking a moment to allow the baby to acknowledge that their diaper will be changed. By attentively observing their babies’ body movements, sighs, and facial expressions, parents can often discern their needs and emotions.
Engaging in such communication with newborns can have a positive impact on them in several ways. Firstly, it encourages bodily autonomy from a young age. By asking for permission, parents can cultivate a sense of personal boundaries and respect for bodily autonomy in their children. This approach conveys the message that their bodies belong to them, and their consent matters, laying a foundation for the concepts of bodily autonomy and consent as they mature.
Secondly, this practice helps build communication and trust between parents and their babies. Even if infants may not grasp the meaning of the words spoken to them, engaging in dialogue creates an opportunity for verbal interaction, eye contact, and responsiveness. These elements contribute to strengthening the bond and trust between caregiver and child.
Additionally, by incorporating the habit of asking for permission, parents become more attuned to their baby’s nonverbal cues. Babies express their needs and discomfort through facial expressions, body movements, and sounds. Through this approach, parents can develop a deeper understanding of their child’s nonverbal cues, fostering a greater awareness of their needs and emotions.
Lastly, engaging in conversation with infants from an early age supports language development. While babies may not comprehend the words being spoken, they benefit from exposure to language, tone, and inflection. This exposure aids in their language acquisition and lays the groundwork for future linguistic development.