Preparing for Changing a Diaper

Much like making dinner, changing a diaper successfully has a lot to do with the prep. Have everything at hand and you’ll be winning.

First, choose your changing area and set it up with a stack of diapers, wash cloth or disposable wipes, a bowl (to fill with lukewarm water just before a change), a diaper bin, some clean baby clothes, and a couple of small towels. Sometimes it can be helpful to create a couple of changing stations around the house— for example, one in the bedroom and one in the living area of your home. With multiple changing stations, you’re never too far from a changing mat when it’s time for changing baby’s diaper!

Make sure the room is warm, as your baby will be naked from the waist down during a change. When the time comes, wash and dry your hands as this will help to minimise the spread of germs.

Getting Down to Changing a Diaper

  • Undress your baby. Lay them on their back on the changing mat. If your baby’s on a changing table, always have a hand on them to avoid any potential falls. Only remove your baby’s clothes from the waist down, so they don’t lose too much body heat. Undo the diaper’s tabs and lift your baby’s bottom by gently holding their ankles.
  • Wipe. Use a wash cloth or a disposable wipe to clean. If you have a girl, clean front to back, to reduce the risk of any bacteria entering her vagina. If you have a boy be sure to clean around his penis and testicles. Pat skin dry, and if you notice any diaper rash, apply a diaper barrier cream to help ease soreness and protect the skin. A good choice might be an un-fragranced product, such as zinc oxide or petroleum jelly.
  • Fasten. Unfold a clean diaper and put it under your baby. Some newborn diapers are specially designed with a little cut-out for the umbilical stump to not to irritate the area. To ensure your baby is comfortable, always spread out the diaper fully to avoid any bunching or rubbing of the skin. The diaper should look straight and the waist snug just under the belly button. The diaper should not be fastened too tight and you should be able to run two fingers between the diaper and the baby’s stomach. Pull out the leg cuffs (the ruffly part of the diaper that goes around the legs) to prevent diaper leaks.
  • Clean up. Move the baby to a safe place such as the crib while you dispose of the dirty diaper, wipe down the changing area and wash your hands. You’re all set!

Disposable Diapers Vs. Reusable Diapers

You might be weighing up the benefits of disposable diapers versus reusable diapers or considering using a combination of the two. Reusable diapers are a larger investment at first but work out to be less expensive (and kinder to the environment) in the long run. In the end, though, it’s about finding the diapers that suit your baby and your lifestyle.

Reusable diapers have come a long way in recent years. You’ll find reusable diapers in a range of cute prints, colours, and patterns, with Velcro or snap fastenings. Plus, many parents find that in the long term they save money, and are more environmentally friendly3.

How Do I Change a Reusable Diaper?

You’ll take almost all of the same steps you would if you were changing a disposable diaper but instead, you’d only put the liner part of the diaper in the bin, replacing it with a new one at every change. You’d then put a clean reusable cloth diaper on your baby, placing the worn one in your washing machine along with your cloth diapers, in a separate wash to your other laundry.3

Changing a Diaper When You’re Out and About

As you get used to changing diapers, you’ll become more confident at changing your baby away from the home. While there are usually designated changing areas in restaurants and shopping malls, you’ll want to consider hygiene. It could be worth carrying a spray sanitiser safe for use around infants or sanitizing wipes in your diaper bag. This will help to protect you and your baby from any germs you may come into contact with. Also, disposable changing pads (available in most drugstores) can be very useful when you’re changing diapers away from home and can be thrown away straight after use.1

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