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Diapering Tips for New Parents

Changing a baby’s diaper can be a bit challenging at first, especially if the baby is crying and upset. This blog post and a little practice will make the job easier.

Equipment needed for diapering:

1.   Change pad.  (Tip: An inexpensive plastic covered change pad is all that is needed. It can be used on any flat surface such as a dresser, a bed or on the floor. A change table is not a necessity.)

2. Clean diapers. (Tip: Don’t buy too many diapers in the same size as babies grow quickly and will soon be in the next size.)

3.   Wipes or small washcloths. (Tip: Some baby’s bottoms are more sensitive than others. You may want to use washcloths when you are at home and fragrance free wipes when you are out.)

4. Diaper cream. (Tip: If baby’s skin is healthy, a barrier cream such as petroleum jelly is all that is needed. Other medicated creams, such as those containing zinc oxide, are for use when the diaper area is reddened.)

5.   Garbage can or a bag close to the diaper changing area.

Some parents organize a basket of changing supplies so that it can be carried to wherever it is needed.

Diapering technique:

1. Collect your diaper changing equipment.

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2. Lay baby on a change pad.

3.   Loosen the diaper tabs.

4. Grasping baby’s ankles with one hand, lift the legs and bottom.

5. Remove the diaper with your other hand.

6. Use your wipes or wet washcloths to clean the diaper area. For females, gently wipe from the front of the diaper area to the back, using a clean part of the cloth with each wipe. For males, simply wipe the outside of the penis. There is no need to retract the foreskin.

7. Slide a clean diaper under your baby’s bottom, gently lifting baby by the ankles. The back of the diaper should be at the level of baby’s belly button.

8. Once baby’s bottom has dried, coat baby’s bottom with a thin layer of diaper cream. Try to avoid applying the cream to the diaper, as it will prevent it from absorbing liquid.

9. Bring the front of the diaper up to baby’s belly and fasten the diaper tabs from the back to the front. It should be snug enough to prevent the diaper from leaking, without being uncomfortably tight.

10. If you have a boy, be sure to tuck the penis downward before fastening the diaper. The diaper may leak if the penis is pointing up.

11. To allow air to dry the cord, fold the top of the diaper down before fastening it.

12. Wash your hands well after each diaper change.

Other Tips and Tricks:

  • Sing or talk to your baby during diaper changes to decrease baby’s stress.
  • If you use a raised surface for diaper changes, never leave baby unattended, even for a moment.
  • If the diaper area is reddened, use a washcloth and water to cleanse, rather than wipes.
  • Air-drying for a few minutes after diaper changes can help to heal a reddened bottom. Place a towel or diaper under your baby as they often wet when exposed to air.
  • If baby’s bottom remains reddened after air drying and using zinc cream for a few days, see your healthcare practitioner as it may be a yeast infection.
  • If your baby is a boy, you may want to protect yourself by placing a washcloth on top of the penis during diaper changes to avoid an unexpected shower!
  • You do not need to change the diaper after every feed if the baby has fallen asleep. Diapers are quite absorbent and barrier cream protects their skin.

Practice makes perfect with diapering and as a new parent you WILL get lots of practice. If you have other diaper tips you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.

Other newborn care posts you may enjoy: Baby Bath Time and Baby Poop: What’s Normal and When to Worry.

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Meet Jana

As a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I have helped thousands of new families in the early days and weeks after delivery. Over and over, I have seen the same questions and challenges catch new families off guard. 

I want it to be easier for you!

I have put the answers to all of these questions in our online prenatal courses. I want you to have the information you need ahead of time so that you know what to expect with breastfeeding and taking care of your newborn.
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