- Change diapers frequently to avoid diaper rash. It’s especially important to change poopy diapers as soon as possible, since they can cause diaper rash quickly.
- Learn about the difference between regular diaper rash and yeast diaper rash, since they need to be treated differently.
- Keep distractions handy. If your baby fusses during changes, secure an engaging mobile over the changing area, hang pictures or mirrors to look at, or give your baby a small toy to play with while you take care of business.
- Stock up on diapers so you don’t run out. Newborns can wet as many as eight to ten diapers a day.
- Some disposable diapers for young babies have a wetness indicator on them – a line that turns color if the diaper is wet. This isn’t necessary, but it can be a convenient way to tell at a glance if it’s time for a change.
- If poop keeps leaking out the top back of your baby’s diaper, it may be time to go up a size. The weights noted on diaper packaging are just guidelines, and your baby may need a bigger size sooner.
- When you leave home, carry some extra plastic or biodegradable bags with you so you have somewhere to put dirty diapers if there’s nowhere to dispose of them. (Get our full list of diaper bag essentials.)
HAVE FUN: Diaper changes offer a chance for some special one-on-one time. Talk and sing to your baby, pointing out the different parts of your baby’s body and explaining what you’re doing. Once your baby is cleaned up, try a few simple songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” Play a bit of peekaboo or patty-cake, and share a kiss before you wrap up.
TIPS FOR HEALTHY DIAPER CHANGES AT HOME
Double check. During diaper changes, a baby’s flailing hands — and especially feet — have the unfortunate tendency to land in poop. So after he’s changed but before he’s dressed, make sure that baby’s still clean.
Wash off your baby’s hands. Whether or not you’ve actually seen your baby touch anything nasty during the diaper change, it’s still a good idea to wash her hands once you’re done.
Wash your own hands right away. If you’re not near a sink, you can use alcohol-based gel instead — just make sure to keep the bottle out of your baby’s reach.
Changing cloth diapers. If you’re washing your cloth diapers yourself, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends presoaking them. Then wash them in hot water — apart from other clothes — and double rinse each wash.
Between diaper changes, you should also get in some good habits to reduce the spread of germs.
Clean and disinfect the changing area. Regularly wipe down the changing table with soap and water or a disinfectant. Clean the diaper pail as well — inside and out.
Be especially careful if you have more than one kid using diapers. A dirty changing area is an easy way for your two kids to swap germs.
Wash the diaper pad cover regularly. Changing pads and covers can get dirty quickly. Get in the habit of washing yours routinely — and change it right away if it’s stained. If laundering the cover of your changing pad seems a hassle — or you don’t have enough spares — lay a receiving blanket over the pads during changes. They’re easy enough to throw in the wash.
WHAT SHOULD I HAVE HANDY FOR EACH NAPPY CHANGE?
Before you change your baby, have everything you need ready. A safe changing area with a hygienic, washable surface is a good starting point.
Nappy changing checklist:
- A clean cloth nappy or disposable nappy.
- A disposable or washable nappy liner and waterproof cover, if not using all-in-ones.
- Plastic nappy grips if using cloth nappies.
- A nappy bucket with a lid to store the dirty nappy prior to washing, or a bag to throw away a disposable nappy.
- Nappy wipes or cotton wool and warm water, plus some unperfumed soap.
- Barrier cream to act as a protection for the skin, or nappy cream, if your baby has nappy rash.
- A change of clothes in case the old nappy has leaked.
- A distraction for your baby, such as a stuffed toy or mobile.
DISPOSABLE OR CLOTH?
Cloth nappies are inexpensive in the long-run, and some mums think they cause less nappy rash. Cloth nappies can be used over and over again, whereas disposables have plastic liners that don’t decompose.
Nearly eight million disposable nappies are thrown away in the UK every day. But washing lots of cloth nappies very often can have a negative impact on the environment. This is especially if you use bleach or non-biodegradable detergents, and if you use a tumble dryer.
Using a nappy laundering service, if you can afford it, and if there is one in your area, is probably the most environmentally-friendly way of using nappies. Nappy laundering services use less energy than washing at home and use less water, as the nappies are washed in bulk. It’s also less hassle for you, as when the nappies are taken away, fresh ones are delivered in their place.
PROS OF USING CLOTH NAPPIES:
- Cheaper than disposables in the long-run.
- Most are designed to wash and dry quickly.
- Soft on your baby’s bottom, as they are chemical-free.
- May be more environmentally-friendly, as they reduce landfill.
- Look nicer than disposables, with a choice of eye-catching designs.
- If you have more babies later, you can reuse them, reducing the environmental impact further.
CONS OF USING CLOTH NAPPIES:
- It costs more at the outset, instead of paying for nappies slowly, week by week.
- May be more likely to leak than disposables, though not everyone agrees.
- May be more time-consuming than using disposables, and babysitters will need a full briefing on how to use them.
- Tend to look bulkier than disposables.
- You need a tumble dryer or space to dry nappies. Tumble drying your nappies considerably reduces any environmental benefits associated with them.
- If you’re out and about, you have to carry dirty nappies around with you.
- You need more accessories such as liners and plastic nappy grips.
- Even if you choose to use cloth nappies, you may find disposables useful for when you’re away from home, or for emergencies. And there’s no shame in changing your mind if one method isn’t working for you.
HOW TO CHANGE A DIAPER?
Diapering your baby is as much a part of parenting as feeding, even though it can sometimes be challenging at first. With a good knowledge of the diapering basics, you’ll be able to keep your baby dry, comfortable, and ready to learn, sleep, or play.
- Remove the used diaper and clean between the folds of baby’s skin with gentle diaper wipes, such as Pampers Sensitive Wipes. Remember to always wipe front to back.
- Raise baby carefully by the ankles and slide a clean diaper underneath. The colorful markings should be on the front, facing you.
- Close the diaper and adjust the stretchy tabs so it isn’t too tight or too loose, you should be able to fit two fingers snuggly between the diaper and her stomach.
- Your baby’s first poop will be a thick, greenish, almost tar-like substance called meconium. It can be tough to clean, but gentle baby wipes will help do the trick.
- Remember it’s important to check your baby’s diaper frequently, change after every poop, and after every nap or feed.
- Cover your baby boy’s penis with a diaper or burp cloth while changing him to prevent getting a surprise shower yourself.
- If you start to experience frequent leaks, it might be time to move up to the next diaper size.
TOP THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DIAPER CHANGES
- Babies need to be changed regularly or they can get diaper rash.
- When changing a baby, pick a safe spot where the baby can’t roll off or get hurt.
- Make sure changing supplies are handy so you don’t need to leave the baby alone.
- Marks around a baby’s legs and waist usually mean a diaper is too tight.
TIME FOR A CHANGE?
A baby can go through as many as 10 diapers a day. So how do you know when it’s time for a change? Don’t rely only on your nose. Pull the diaper open at the waistband and check that all’s clean and dry. Wet diapers might feel heavy, and you’ll probably be able to smell the urine when you pull open the front of the diaper. Poopy diapers will be obvious!
Check a baby or toddler’s diaper both before and after naptime and after feedings. Always change the diaper if it’s wet. Babies can get uncomfortable (and fussy!) if a diaper is wet.
Make sure these supplies are within reach before you set baby down for his or her change:
- a clean diaper
- a clean, damp washcloth or baby wipes (use whatever the parent prefers)
- a dry washcloth or towel
- diaper ointment or petroleum jelly (for preventing and treating rashes)
- a changing pad or cloth diaper for placing under the baby
WHICH DIAPERS ARE BETTER — DISPOSABLE OR CLOTH?
This is one of the longstanding great debates of parenting. The basic argument in favour of cloth diapers is that they’re less expensive and some people feel they cause less diaper rash. Also, disposables have plastic liners that don’t decompose, while cloth diapers can be recycled, thus lessening the impact on our landfills. Then again, frequent laundering of cloth diapers can harm the environment, too, especially if you use bleach or non-biodegradable detergents.
It’s worth thinking it through before your baby is born, but be aware that you may change your mind afterward, so don’t invest too heavily in lots of expensive diapers. Think about practical issues such as whether you have a washing machine and possibly a tumble dryer. If you opt for disposables, can you easily buy regular supplies and do you have somewhere to store them? Talk to friends with young babies and find out what choices they made. In most urban areas there are diaper-laundering services. They supply and deliver clean diapers and pick up the used ones to launder. Compare prices for cloth diapers, disposables, and diaper services over the two to three years that you will be using them. You may also want to include having a second or third child in your calculations.
Even if you choose to use cloth diapers, you may find disposables useful for when traveling or for emergencies.
Got diaper rash? Try the following tips:
- Let your little one’s bottom dry completely before refastening his diaper—and for persistent rashes, having a little “air” time on a waterproof mat might expedite recovery.
- Cloth diapers are known for their rash-reducing power—if your baby has a sensitive bottom, consider going cloth.
- Many moms swear that using a petroleum-based rash ointment on a regular basis prevents rashes from showing up at all.