How To Change A Diaper In 10 Easy Steps

How To Change A Diaper In 10 Easy Steps

The first days of your newborn’s life, though full of joy, are also full of the same handful of tasks. The weeks go by in a blur of feedings, lost sleep and countless diaper changes. Diapering may seem simple but many new parents find the task surprisingly difficult. Infants aren’t always cooperative at changing time, and it can be hard to handle a wriggling baby in need of a fresh diaper and possibly a whole new outfit.

We’ve put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to diapering, including what you’ll need, how often to change your baby and how to succeed at the task in any location—without a mess.

What You Need to Change a Diaper

Before getting started, you’ll need some essential items. “Preparation is key,” says Gary Kirkilas, D.O., a pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s. “You may be tempted to jump right in, but a little preparation and routine goes a long way in having a successful and minimally stressful diaper change.”

Have the following on hand before changing a diaper:

  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Diaper or barrier cream
  • Changing pad
  • Clean, soft cloth
  • Extra clothes (in case of a diaper-related emergency)

10 Steps to Change a Diaper

Now that you’re equipped with the proper supplies, it’s time to change a diaper. Here is our step-by-step process:

Step 1: Lay your baby on a flat surface.

This can be a changing table, the floor or another comfortable (and safe) surface. Lay your little one with their bottom towards the floor and their legs spread apart. Never leave your baby unattended on an elevated surface, as this can lead to serious injuries in the event of a fall.

Step 2: Remove all clothes from under your baby.

Pull back the clothing enough that it won’t interfere with the diaper change. If any diaper contents leaked onto the clothing, ‌take off the entire outfit.

Step 3: Unfasten the dirty diaper and assess.

Once opened, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re dealing with. Be prepared for a mess and have a wipe handy.

Step 4: Lift your baby’s legs with one hand and wipe with the other.

Clean your baby’s bottom with wipes by gently wiping from front to back. Try not to wipe more than a few times, as this can cause redness and discomfort for your little one.

That said, make sure you remove all urine and stool from the area. Any residue left behind could cause a rash or infection. It’s also important for the area to be dry before putting a fresh diaper on. If there is any remaining moisture on the skin, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth. If there is evidence of a rash or skin irritation, wash the area with mild soap and water and allow to air dry.

If your child has loose or watery stools, it may result in skin irritation, so you can also apply a thin layer of vaseline over the diaper ointment, which will create a moisture barrier and help with healing.

Step 5: Remove the dirty diaper from under the baby’s bottom.

Roll up the dirty diaper and any used wipes, placing them to the side, out of your baby’s reach.

Step 6: Apply barrier or diaper cream to clean the bottom (if needed).

Zinc oxide barrier cream, or diaper rash cream, can help protect your baby’s skin from becoming irritated. Use a clean finger or applicator to apply a thin layer evenly over the entire diaper area. Focus heavily on areas of irritation.

Step 7: Place a clean diaper under your baby’s bottom and fasten the sticky tabs on both sides.

If you’re using a disposable diaper, place it with the front between your baby’s legs and the back covering their entire bottom. Secure the diaper with the tabs on both sides.

If you’re using a cloth diaper, make sure it’s properly fastened around your baby’s waist and legs.

Step 8: Re-dress your baby.

When finished with the diaper change, replace your baby’s clothes and return them to a comfortable position. If any urine or poop is on their clothes, put them in the fresh outfit you prepared before the diaper change.

Step 9: Discard the dirty diaper and wipes.

Once finished, place the dirty diaper and used wipes in a diaper pail or trash can. You may want to place the soiled diaper and wipes in an outer plastic bag before discarding.

Step 10: Wash your hands.

Always wash your hands well with soap and water after changing your child’s diaper.

How Often Should You Change a Baby’s Diaper?

Figuring out how often you should change a diaper can be confusing. Every child is different, so it’s important to monitor your baby’s behavior and response to soiled diapers. However, many recommend changing a baby’s diaper roughly every two to three hours or when they become soiled.

“Many newborns pee and even poop with every feed and can have near-constant dirty diapers,” says Rebekah Diamond, M.D., a pediatric hospitalist in New York City, assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University and author of the forthcoming book Parent Like a Pediatrician. “As babies get older, they tend to need less-frequent diaper changes.”

Fewer Leaks And Blowouts For Better Sleep

Coterie diapers are dye-free, fragrance-free, apparel-grade fabric offering up to 12-hr leak protection and faster absorption to help prevent nighttime wakeups and keep your baby’s skin healthier.

Tips for Changing Diapers

With a little practice and some helpful pointers, you’ll be changing diapers like a pro in no time.

Dr. Diamond shares the following five tips for changing diapers:

  1. For girls, always wipe front to back. Clean the vulva with each change, making sure no stool gets stuck.
  2. Use wipes, diapers and ointments without fragrance to help prevent irritation.
  3. Use generous amounts of zinc oxide barrier cream at the end of diaper changes.
  4. When you wipe at the next diaper change, keep that layer of barrier ointment intact rather than rubbing it off and causing more irritation.
  5. The best prevention and cure for diaper rash is having your baby spend as much time as possible with their bum open to the air.

Diaper changes are an essential part of taking care of your baby. “Pediatricians frequently see diaper rash as a result of urine and feces irritating the skin,” explains Dr. Kirkilas. “The longer the skin has contact with these two substances, the more likely a baby will develop a rash.”

Soiled diapers can have other negative effects, too. “Additionally, the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections are present in feces, so promptly changing diapers is a good way to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria into the urinary tract,” Dr. Kirkilas concludes.

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