How can I deal with my partner’s baby-unfriendly quirk?

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By: Kate HaskellCC BY 2.0
My husband hates lotion. He thinks it’s completely disgusting. I can’t even get him to wear sunscreen, despite his history of precancerous moles. Although this is worrisome to me, I’ve always chosen to avoid this battle. Which was fine until we had our baby four months ago.

Our little girl has super-sensitive skin, just like her mama. She is very susceptible to diaper rash and has some eczema, particularly on her scalp. We use cloth diapers — a decision my husband was totally on board with. When we put disposables on her, she breaks out in a rash no matter how much diaper cream we put on. If she is adequately lubed up, I can keep her little bum clear in the cloth diapers. BUT…

My husband finds the diaper cream so yucky on his own fingers that he’ll hardly touch the stuff, let alone cover her bum with it properly. Every single time he puts her heavier night diaper on, she wakes up with a rash. In fact, if he changes her more than twice in a row, she’ll get a rash. We’ve “discussed” (read: argued about) this, and he says it makes no sense to him to put something moisturizing on her if wetness is the problem. I’ve explained the science of barrier creams to him and he says it baffles him. I find myself thinking he’s just trying to justify his own bad parenting. I know that’s a mean thing to think.

I’m at a loss. In most other ways, he’s a wonderful father and husband. I hate to see her in pain from diaper rash but I don’t want to have to do every diaper change myself. Please, please tell me: how do you deal with a partner’s quirks and preconceptions when you believe they are negatively impacting your baby? — Jenny

Comments on How can I deal with my partner’s baby-unfriendly quirk?

    • This was actually my first thought! It sounds like a texture issue to me, which could probably be worked around with gloves so that he doesn’t have to feel it on his fingers.

      • My boy works in a restaurant (handling food) and keeps a box of ‘finger condoms’ (for lack of a better term!) around to wear when he has a fingertip wound. That might be even easier then a whole glove.

        • The technical term is finger cots, usually used for splinting/covering finger wounds (as you said). Finger condoms is the term used more commonly. Totally a thing, but there’s the “better” word in case you care to use it. I think finger condoms is more fun though 😛

      • Mine too.

        If feeling the cream through the gloves still grosses him out, maybe some sort of soft, wide object (smooth clothe? Spatula?) he can use to spread the cream evenly without touching it.

        This may not entirely solve the problem is part of his problem is the combination of hating lotion and empathy for the baby. If he hates the feel of it, he may have a hard time putting it on his daughter’s skin because he knows it would make HIM miserable if it was him.

        If this is part of the problem, maybe science is in order: Get him to observe and note down the difference in rashiness when the cream is used and when it is not used. Maybe empirical evidence that it helps with the rash will convince him it is worth the discomfort he feels it must be causing the baby.

        (Or possibly the empirical will show that it doesn’t actually make that much difference, and then you can stop fighting with your husband about lotion and work on tracking down what DOES make a difference. It’s always important to be open to the possibility of having your hypothesis disproved when doing an experiment.)

    • This, or putting some diaper cream on a piece of tissue, toilet paper, or even squirting it on the diaper then smearing it on her bum. No touching it, but baby’s bottom is still protected.

      • That’s how we put it on, squirt it on the dry, clean diaper and smear it around. It’s also the most hygenic way for any of us to do it, as suggested by our Ped.

    • Yes to gloves! My husband had the same issue with both diaper creams and the idea of touching poo, so he still uses gloves every time. It’s actually really convenient, especially on the go when a handwashing sink is not always readily available. It also helped him to see me go through the diapering process with our son a number of times, and to jump in and assist with the “gross part” a few times.

  1. Would he be okay putting it on with a disposable glove? Or maybe if he used a washcloth or something similar, so he doesn’t actually have to touch it?

    • You said washcloth, and it made me think: If makeup sponges can be used for putting on cream foundation and greasepaint which are similar consistencies of diaper rash cream and lotions, I bet they would work great on this. Perceived issue: More waste. I don’t see these creams coming off the sponges properly when washed so they could need to be disposable.

      TMI ALERT: But maybe you are onto something with the washcloth thing. I use flannel wipes on my own self and intend to use them on any future!kids, and I know that when I have been forced to use diaper rash cream, it has washed off the wipe just fine. But that wasn’t applying it. I imagine they would actually work to apply it pretty well. And being flat rather than (as) textured as a washcloth, perhaps less wasted rash cream?

      • Since they are using cloth diapers, I am thinking that one diaper could be designated as the “butt paste applicator” cloth. Assuming the cloth diapers are already clean enough for baby’s bum, and they wouldn’t touch anything but products meant for baby.

  2. GroVia MAGIC Stick. It’s like in a tube–think deoderant. He doesn’t have to touch the cream, it’s cloth diaper safe and works amazing. Plus it smells good. There are a couple other generic varieties out there that work just as well.

  3. Is it possible for diaper changing to be done exclusively by you? It sounds like your husband has sensory issues more than he’s being a bad parent so compromising might be the best way to deal. For instance in our home I am the one in charging of washing the diapers and then my husband pitches in extra elsewhere.

  4. Do you think it’s more of a him disliking touching the butt paste, or him not agreeing with its necessity?

    If its the touch issue, you can use the tubes rather than the tubs and he can just squeeze it between her cheeks without touching.

    If its a “it’s not necessary” disagreement, then would him going to a dr appointment where her diaper rash and the solution is discussed be helpful?

  5. How about vinyl gloves? You can get a pack of 50 or 100 at any drug store. Latex are cheaper if she isn’t sensitive to that, too. I use gloves for almost everything because I don’t like to touch a lot of stuff. If the problem is truly that he doesn’t want to touch the lotion, this should help.

    • This. So much this. I wear gloves for EVERYTHING because I hate the way things (all things ever, it feels like) feel. The world is a sensory place and I had to find my barrier method to function in this world when I realized I was going to have to touch things that I found unpleasant or even physically repulsive. The gloves will protect him from the squishy gross lotion the way the squishy gross lotion will protect your little girl’s bottom!

  6. My husband has OCD tendencies so I can relate. I’ve learned to try and problem solve in as many cases as possible. Has he tried to wear gloves before putting on the butt balm?

    Like a relationship, parenting is a dance. Sometimes you have to take the lead. My husband has an extremely limited food vocabulary. I feed our daughter. I’m pregnant and find myself getting a little testy with her at times. He steps up.

  7. That sounds a little like my husband. He can’t stand gunky things on his hands or fingers (lotions, creams, oils, etc). Perhaps get a box of latex/nitrile gloves or something he can wear so he does not have the heavy feeling of the diaper cream on his hands.

    Good luck!

  8. My husband has issues with lotions as well. It is a sensory issue and NOT a bad parenting issue. If you can convince him to do a little DIY therapy, he will come around. Put lotion on him and rub it in. Do it a little every day until it stops freaking him out. Berating him will not help. Trust me. I have been there. I have to apply sunscreen for my husband. I’ve gotten him to the point where he can tolerate it on his skin, as long as it isn’t on his hands. It’s one of those things that can make you want to rage, because it is so irrational, but it makes perfect sense to him. Good luck!

    • Speaking as someone who has tried homefried aversion therapy and the actual real thing with a certified therapist, I cannot tell you how unsafe your suggestion is. Some people have actual, real, full on meltdowns or panic attacks and your advice would not be helpful and can do long term damage. My personal suggestion is to work around it (most people with tactile/auditory/oral defensiveness, sensory aversion or sensory processing issues have grown up learning work arounds or coping since it’s a fairly new Thing to be labeled as), or find an actual sensory integration therapist. Please do not give such irresponsible advice! I see that you’re coming from a good place overall, but I hope you can see what I’m trying to say.

  9. Your husband has an aversion to lotions- it’s hard to tell how bad it is from your post. For his own health, maybe try the spray kind of sunscreen. It’s way less gross.

    Depending how severe his aversion is, telling him to just “get over it” and “not be a bad parent” won’t work. For your (mental) health, don’t think of it this way. Compare it to something that really icks you out. He’s probably not trying to sabotage your parenting efforts or not adequately care for the child.

    For your child’s health, find a different method of application (stick, gloves, little disposable spatulas). Diaper duty is not the most desirable job, so I don’t think you should have to do it exclusively, or maybe you can “trade” another undesirable chore for exclusive diaper duty.

    As kids, we always knew to go to Mom for vomit and Dad for blood.

    • I love the spray sun screen and prefer to use it whenever possible. I don’t have an aversion to lotions, but the sprays are just so convenient and easy to apply, even in areas that are hard to reach. Some brands feel cleaner than others though, so finding the right kind that doesn’t trigger OCD may take some effort.

      • As someone who hates sunscreen (And anything else I can feel and/or smell on my skin), this is the brand I hate the least:

        It goes on pretty oily feeling, but it absorbs quickly and feels less sticky than most sunscreens. It also stinks less than some sunscreens.

        I can still feel it (a slightly greasy feeling) and smell it (All sunscreens have a distinct, unpleasant smell to me) and I still pretty much hate it and will only wear it if I am going to be out on the sun for an extended period of time and just wearing a hat and trying to stay in the shade seems insufficient, but I hate it less than any other sunscreen I’ve tried. Which is pretty much the most enthusiastic endorsement you’re going to get out of me for a sunscreen (Horrible stuff. If it weren’t for the risk of skin cancer, I’d probably just risk the sunburn.)

  10. How about spreading the cream with a spoon or wearing gloves on his hand? As a side note, aren’t creams not so great with cloth though?good luck!

  11. Disposable gloves may be a good idea. Maybe you can at least get him to agree to put it on her if he doesn’t have to actually touch it.

    A doctor’s opinion may also help. You may need an “authority” to firmly explain to him that, whether he gets it or not, this is what she needs. He can like it or not as long as he takes adequate care of her.

  12. I don’t like touching desitin either (not to this extent) but what I do, is put a dollop on the diaper, and then rub the diaper all over baby’s bottom. I don’t know if this would help.

  13. I totally understand this, I think its a sensory issue for me. Slimy stuff on my hands, ugh! for the sunblock (though I realize its not your primary issue) I use the spray on ones that go on clear. no touching required. not the greenest stuff but I spray it outside and its the only way I can manage so I deal. The butt cream thing, I keep wipes right by me and clean it off really quick but (and possibly wasteful i know but if required) some medical gloves might help him be able to apply the cream and not get it on his hands, if it is a sensory issue for him too? Its something I have considered but I’ve managed to keep wipes nearby and its fine. With 2 in diapers I had to adapt! 🙂 also, some bother me more than others. with cloth diapers I used one (not necessarily a diaper cream but it worked great) made by lush, superbalm which didn’t bother me too much, its the stickier ones that drive me nuts. or there’s a couple for cloth diapers that come in a tube that you put on like a deodorant. Grovia makes one, magic stick that I know people who love.

  14. No reason he shouldn’t get the logic behind it. Once he’s on board, buy a box of disposable gloves for him (or washable cotton) for applying. There are also aerosol spray rash preventers/cures (Boudreaux’s makes one) that would leave lotion out of the equation.

    • I’d be careful with an aerosol diaper spray….it’s not so good to breathe these in & I don’t know how you’d prevent the overspray from getting near the baby’s face. The sticks sound better.

  15. My partner and I have had quite a few disagreements like this. Pretty small scale, yet important. I try to stop myself from getting defensive (the hardest part for me! ) and ask him to come up with a solution. The problem is obvious, diaper rash on your baby. My guess is that he wants your baby to be pain free just as much as you do. So, put it in his hands to find a solution. tell him that you will follow his research and advice. The big BUT for me is that I tell my partner, if you decide to ignore the problem amd it gets worse/doesnt get resolved, them we default to my way, and you have to follow it. See what he comes up with. Maybe he will start doing elimination communication, or find a cloth diaper cream he doesnt mind touching (we like Earth Mama Angel Baby or plain coconut oil) or maybe he can buy some gloves or finger cots. Finding ways to work together on the small stuff has helped me and my partner have a framework to deal with the big stuff. Good luck!

    • I actually really like this solution. It comes back to the mentality of Owning Your Own Shit. “This is a problem you have, so you need to be the one to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.” Which is SO NEVER to say that we don’t help each other out and come up with ideas, we are totally supportive, but it really does feel awesome to be able to say “I had a problem, and I found a solution, thank you so much for your help brainstorming.” Also it helps keep the resentment down of “you made me do this.” Because all anyone “makes” anyone else do is respect boundaries.

    • Such great advice! It feels like this strategy would work in a variety of situations. I’m interested in trying it out. Like Heather said, it seems like it would cut down on resentment of one partner feeling like the other is making him or her do something. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Baby’s needs trump daddy’s “ickyness”.

    Ask him to wear a pair of thin gloves when he changes her, see if your pediatrician will explain it to him at your next appointment, or don’t let him change her anymore and explain why.

  17. Stick diaper ointment! I can’t stand to have the stuff on my hands either, but we have some that is basically a giant lip-balm tube of ointment.

    I’ve only ever seen it at specialty/hippie baby stores, and it’s not cheap, but it lasts a while. It’s called GroVia Magic Stick. There’s also one called Bumazing. We picked up a Balmex stick at the grocery store in a pinch, but I found that one way messier and harder to use.

  18. Why have I never thought of gloves or little spatulas? That might work! Although I do feel bad about the waste of throwing them away. Maybe reusable vinyl gloves, though?

    I do make my own diaper cream (I make our lotion, cleaning products, ect). I’m a hippie that way. But I might be able to load it into a push tube, like a deodorant tube or even one of those refillable push-pop things.

    It really helps to hear that other people understand and relate to this issue. Sometimes I feel really alone with his “issues.” I don’t want to nag, and he’s such a great guy that I hate to fight with him about this.

    You guys are so great!

    • If you make your own, why not pick up a travel sized roll on deodorant applicator bottle? You can (with a little force and maybe a little mess) force the ball out by squeezing the bottle, clean it out, and fill it with lotion? The ball will pop back in, too.

      I do this with coconut oil for lube 😉 you will want to store it upside down, so make sure to get one with a flat cap top.

    • I found a bunch of sources for push tubes by searching “lotion stick tube” on google. You might have to tweak your recipe so it is a little more of a solid, but it looks pretty easy and the tubes themselves are only a couple bucks and could almost certainly be reused.

    • Parenting is a balancing act. You are two imperfect people raising someone who will become imperfect one day. Give and take, seek advice and be willing to be wrong

  19. When is you next doctor appointment with baby? Maybe he could come and hear FROM THE DOCTOR how important the barrier cream is to avoid diaper rash for your daughter? Maybe hearing what you told him, but from someone with some kind of medical authority would help him accept it? There was also a facebook comment about giving him a makeup sponge to apply the cream so he doesn’t have to touch it, I think it’s worth a try.
    good luck for the many many diapers still ahead of you!
    (edit: for some reason I couldn’t see the previous comments, so I guess I’m not bringing anything new…)

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