First, let me say that I began doing this just by instinct, not because I "knew" or understood what I was accomplishing. I didn't really realize that I had done anything special until a friend pointed it out to me at BF group one day. We were standing at the changing tables, doing our thing, changing diapers & chatting away, when I told T man "legs down!" and he (of course) put his legs down. I didn't think about it, it's just what we do. I learned that day that (apparently) not all babies do this! LOL I began watching other moms, both at group & just out and about, and I realized that I had actually taught my baby Diaper Etiquette =)
I want to brag on my hubby a bit first. =) I didn't change a single diaper till T man was 4 days old =) My darling husband did every single diaper while at the hospital & during our first day and a half at home. Love that guy! So because of that, I didn't begin our "training" till T man was almost a week old.
When you change a diaper on a brand new newborn, it's like trying to hold open a slinky. Those little legs just wanna pop right up and fold into the fetal position. I had read (in my endless prenatal researching) that "talking" to a baby is good for their development. Even if you're just narrating your actions, it helps to stimulate their senses, teach them your language and familiarize them with your voice.
So as I was changing T mans diapers, I would gently press on his legs and say "legs down!" I did this every single time, not knowing or realizing that I was training him to perform a task. Eventually, I would say "legs down!" and I wouldn't have to press so hard because he was helping me do it. Then it got to the point where he would begin to lay his legs down before I started pressing. We finally got to the point (when "L" observed us at group) that all I have to say is "legs down!" and down they go.
Once T man discovered his feet (foot goes straight in mouth) I did have to start pressing on his knees again to remind him of what needs to happen during diaper changes. I also found that using a lower voice & saying it with a bit of firm authority helps baby understand that you're not playing with him. You're giving him an instruction. Daddy doesn't seem to have as much luck with the "legs down" command because he uses his "parentese" voice (that sing songy play voice we use when talking to babies) If T man ignores me, I look him square in the eyes, use my normal adult voice and repeat "Legs ... Down." and down they go. ( I always tell him Thank You so he knows he did it right)
Now that he rolls (a lot) he thinks he can roll over during diaper changes too! Mama says No! I watched "C"s mom wrangle and fight with him one day as he wanted to roll away with his naked little butt squirming all over the place. It was shortly after that, that T man began his own rolling away actions. I knew we had to stop that one early! We've now added "on your back" to our diaper routine. I place my hand on his shoulder and gently press him back onto his back while saying "on your back" then immediately add "legs down".
I don't know if this will help any of you with older infants (several months old??) but it may be worth a shot. And for all you soon to be moms, I promise you'll have easier diaper changes and probably some jealous friends ;-)
Oh, PS. I also say "arms up" (press on the elbow) when changing clothes and it makes getting dressed less stressful for both mom & baby