In a recent video circulating on social media, Jane Evans, a parent coach opined that it is important to ask your babies before you change their nappy. According to her, you have to start teaching children about consent as early as you can. She mentioned that before you change your baby’s nappy, you could just say “hey (your baby’s name), I need to change your nappy now to make you comfortable.” It is about respecting them as human beings, and teaching them early to respect other people’s bodies as well.
In the video, one of the presenters is seen asking, “how do you communicate this with your three-month-old and expect an answer?” To this, Jane says “of course, a three-month-old baby can’t speak, but babies communicate all the time and you can see it in their body energy.”
Let’s pause here.
The conversation around asking for consent before changing your baby’s nappy may seem silly to many people, but in a world where we talk about consent and respecting boundaries, how do we extend this to babies. As a matter of fact, should we extend it to babies?
On social media, some people are insisting that it is important to teach your children early enough how to navigate the world and yes, that should be right from when they are babies. The argument is that babies learn quickly from the actions of other people, and if we are teaching young ones not to allow outsiders touch them inappropriately, isn’t it best to lead by example as parents?
From asking them what they would like to eat to what they would like to wear, it is important to give children choices and teach them how to be assertive while also respecting boundaries.
At the other side of the argument is that in asking for consent from babies, we are sexualising the interaction between parents and their babies. A father changing his daughter’s nappy is what a parent should actually do. It’s normal. If it ever gets to that point where you start asking for consent from your baby to change his/her diaper, it makes the relationship look sexual.
Other people are also saying “look, this is ridiculous.” One, because babies cannot tell you if they want their diapers changed or not. Two, if your baby has soiled his/her diaper and is giving you “negative body energy,” would you refuse to change it because you think the baby is uncomfortable. If your one-year-old child, who is still wearing a nappy, refuses to allow you change it after politely asking for consent, would you let the child go on for days without having a change of nappy? Isn’t it a parent’s job to do what’s best for their babies whether or not they want it?
While some people agree with Jane and insist that this charity of “consent” and “respect” actually begins at home, other people insist that in today’s world, we are just looking for more ways to make things more complicated.
So whose side are you on? Team ‘consent from babies before changing diapers’ or team ‘consent ko, consent ni, change it jare.’