How to Change a Diaper

Tips and Tricks for a Speedy Diaper Change

Diaper-changing might seem like a daunting task at first, but it doesn't have to be. These tips can help you change a diaper safely and efficiently.

Parenthood comes jam-packed with adventures—some warm and fuzzy, others not so much. As a new parent, you can look forward to changing your baby's diaper up to 10 times a day, so it's important to know how to do it correctly. Whether you're opting for disposable diapers or cloth ones, and whether your baby is a boy or a girl, the following tips can make a world of difference in diaper-changing.

Knowing the Cues

Smell isn't the only tell-tale sign that babies need their diapers changed. Diapers might seem heavier than usual, and even if you don't notice anything unusual, it's important to change a soiled diaper as soon as possible to prevent chafing and diaper rash.

Keep an eye on what's going on inside your baby's diaper by pulling out the waistband or the leg every now and then to see if it's wet or dirty. Also check it before and after each nap, and stay equipped with a diaper bag full of the essentials: clean diapers, wipes and rash ointment, just in case.

Changing a Diaper

When you notice a soiled diaper, find a clean, safe changing station for you and your baby, and make sure your hands are clean and dry. Then follow these steps, which apply for both disposable and reusable diapers:

Lay your baby on her back and take off any of her clothing that's keeping you from reaching the diaper.

Remove the dirty diaper. For disposable diapers, pull up on the sticky tabs. For reusable cloth ones, just remove the diaper cover and any closures such as snaps or safety pins from around the baby's waist.

Gently lift your baby and pull out the diaper from under her bottom. If the dirty diaper is soiled with solids, you can use the clean front half of the diaper to wipe off your baby's bottom, before sliding the diaper out from under her.

Get out those wipes to clean up your baby. Make sure you're wiping front to back, especially for girls, to avoid infection.

If you notice redness or inflammation, apply diaper ointment to soothe it.

Once your baby's skin has dried, pull out a fresh diaper and place it under her bottom.

Pull the front part of the diaper over your baby's stomach, and fasten the tabs around the baby's waist to secure the diaper. If it's a cloth diaper, fasten it with safety pins or other fasteners and replace the diaper cover.

Redress your baby. Fold up the dirty diaper, and fasten it closed. If it's disposable, throw it away or dispose of it according to manufacturer instructions. If it's cloth, empty as much of the contents into the toilet as you can, and rinse the diaper. When you have access to a washing machine, wash it for reuse.

Additional Tips

Keep the following tips in mind to ensure safety and ease during the diaper-changing process:

  • To prevent falling: If you're changing your baby on an elevated surface, keep one hand on him the whole time. Even if you're using a changing table with straps, never leave your baby unattended.
  • For boys: The changing process can get a little more complicated with boys, as you might find yourself victim to a, well, inconveniently timed accident. To prevent this, place a clean cloth over your son's diaper region to keep him from urinating on you.
  • For sensitive skin: If your baby's skin is sensitive, use lukewarm water and thick paper towels to wipe him down instead of using wipes or wet cloths.
  • To prevent diaper rash: Make sure you're changing diapers every couple of hours and cleaning up your baby thoroughly each time. Avoid scented wipes and soaps, and make sure your baby's diapers aren't fitting too tightly.

Diaper-changing will become a round-the-clock responsibility, so you'll inevitably develop your own system that you can perform in your sleep (almost literally). And don't dread the process: Diaper-changing allows for some intimate bonding time, so enjoy it while it lasts!

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