Baby dolls used for diaper changing with a tweet criticizing the concept of asking a baby for consent to change a diaper.

Sgt. Daryl Knee/U.S. Air Force RitaPanahi/Twitter Remix by Samantha Grasso

Twitter loses it over idea that changing babies’ diapers requires ‘consent’

This sexuality expert's concept of 'diaper consent' isn't flying with anyone.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on May 11, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 4:08 pm CDT

If you ask a baby for consent to change its dirty diaper, and it has no idea what you’re saying, will the internet take this suggestion and ridicule it across social media platforms? Without a doubt, yes.

Twitter is lambasting this suggestion from Deanne Carson, an Australia-based sexuality expert who went on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and told parents to work on teaching consent to babies when at the changing table.

Carson said parents could say to their babies, “I’m going to change your nappy [diaper] now, is that OK?”

“Of course a baby’s not going to respond, ‘Yes, mom, that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed.’ But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact, then you’re letting that child know that their response matters,” Carson went on.

The concept of teaching children about consent when it comes to touching and being touched isn’t what people latched onto. Instead, the internet has gone after Carson’s point of attempting to communicate with a baby who is unable to form sentences for several years.

Some expressed that asking a baby for consent to change its diaper, even if they understood, might have a negative effect on its understanding of consent. If the baby were to not want that done, is it fair to follow the child’s wishes and keep them in a dirty diaper? And if a parent were to go ahead and change the diaper anyway, wouldn’t that show the child that their consent doesn’t matter?

Others questioned if Carson had any childcare experience of her own.

And then some took Carson’s comments a bit too far. Australian journalist Joe Hildebrand asserted that Carson equated her goal to teach children about consent with rape, calling it a disservice to survivors of sexual assault. However, teaching children about general consent early on is valuable in moving forward to talk about asking for and giving sexual consent and developing sexual boundaries later in life.

Another video from August featuring Carson’s teachings about consent does mention parents working with their own children as babies, but primarily shows children 3-4 years old learning about bodily autonomy and expressing when they do and don’t give consent.

The class doesn’t teach children about sex, but instead gets them in touch with their feelings and emotions, which Carson said could be overruled when adults want them to do the polite thing such as kiss or hug a family member they don’t want to.

Jumpstarting a culture of consent in a child’s life is far from a bad idea. However, Carson might want to emphasize how different “getting consent” from a baby might be from just communicating to them what’s happening when they’re having their diaper changed.

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*First Published: May 11, 2018, 8:35 am CDT