It seems that in almost all nurseries and childcare settings children have their nappy changed by staff wearing rubber gloves. Some babies and young children spend long hours in day-care, sometimes up to 10 hours a day. Understanding as we do, the importance that touch plays in infant brain development, why are rubber gloves used when changing a nappy? You may say that it is to protect the children from cross infections, but this can still happen when rubber gloves are worn. Rubber gloves have to be taken off and disposed of with the hands!
Nappy changing is a time when adults can engage in close, face to face eye contact with babies. It is a time to chat to the baby, sing a song, or play a tickle game. Hands can be in contact with the baby, who is able to feel the warmth of the skin, touch and gentleness of caressing hands. Is this possible when the adult is wearing rubber gloves?
It seems that nurseries are under the misapprehension that wearing rubber gloves for nappy changing is a directive from OFSTED. This is not true. From investigations that I undertook, Ofsted denies that this advice has come from them. But nurseries and childcare settings say that when OFSTED inspections are carried out OFSTED advises that they should use rubber gloves. If they do not take this advice, the next time they are inspected they will be marked down on their ratings.
Early interactions with babies and young children help to develop speech and social intelligence and touch is important for all aspects of a baby’s development. The feel of rubber gloves is no substitute for the skin to skin touch of another human being.