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diaper changing tips: how to change a baby's diaper

10 minutes

Changing a diaper isn’t typically one of the big things most of us worry about before having a baby. Sure, you might never have done it before, but after a few goes, how hard can it be?

Well, there's certainly a ‘knack’ to diaper changing and it doesn’t always come instantly.

A tiny baby can wriggle with the best of them, so when you’re trying to get them out of their dirty diaper, all the while making sure they don’t fall off the changing table, things can get pretty complicated.

Knowing when to do all this can be a bit of a minefield too, especially when you need to change a diaper while out and about with your little one.

Here at WaterWipes, we want to help you make diaper changing simple. This article includes help with better understanding when to change a diaper, looking out for sensitive skin, and also our top tips on how to change a baby’s diaper – both at home and in public.

How to change a baby's diaper

Feeling daunted and unsure of how to change a baby’s diaper? We’ve created some easy to follow steps for first-time parents to make that first diaper change a success!

Step One - Clean your hands

Ensure your hands are clean before you begin by washing them with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you're changing your baby’s diaper in public.

Step Two - Lay your baby down with all the supplies you need

Lay your baby on their changing mat and ensure everything you need is within arm's reach. A clean diaper, wet wipes, cream or ointment and a bag to put the dirty one in are all you should need.

Unfasten the diaper

Unstick the diaper's tabs then lift your baby's bottom – you can hold them by their ankles and slide the dirty diaper out.

Clean your baby

Take some time to give your baby a good clean with a wipe. When cleaning a girl, ensure you wipe front to back and don't over-wet your baby's privates or the skin could become irritated when you put a new diaper on.

Slide a new diaper under your baby

Lift your baby again and slide a new diaper under them, ready to fasten.

Apply any necessary cream or ointment

If your baby has diaper rash, you may be applying ointment or cream to treat this. Do this now, apply just a thin layer to make sure their skin can still breathe.

Close and seal the diaper and wash your hands

When you're finished pull the diaper closed, stick its tabs down, and then wash your hands. Your baby is clean and ready to go...until the next change!

Now you know how to change a baby’s diaper, take a look at our diaper changing tips below to help make that diaper change easier than ever.

Diaper changing tips

  1. Hold their feet

  2. Cover their privates

  3. Use envelope body suits

  4. Distract them

  5. Be thorough

  6. Keep diapers out of reach

  7. Check your bag

  8. Get the correct size

  9. Do whatever works for you

Whether you're at home, in a coffee shop, or at the park, you always need to be ready to change your baby's diaper. As a new parent, having either never changed diapers before or only changing a few - having top tips to rely on can be super helpful.

Here are our top tips for changing a diaper in the best way possible:

Hold their feet

When changing a little one, always gently hold their feet in one of your hands. Babies wriggle so can kick any poop and leave you with a bigger clean-up job.

Cover their privates

Baby boys can be known to pee as soon as their diaper comes off, so put a wipe over their ‘bits’ to make sure it doesn’t go everywhere (or even worse, hit you straight in the face).

Use envelope body suits

If your baby’s poop leaks onto their body suit, pulling it over the body can spread it up their back. Envelope neck vests stretch over your baby’s shoulders so you can pull them down and off their body.

Distract them

When your baby is old enough to hold something, hand something over to distract them – even if it’s simply your phone or keys. Whatever gives you enough time to get the job done!

Be thorough

Use your WaterWipes to clean the entire area – this includes the front and back and in the inner creases of your baby's groin – as any residue left behind can cause diaper rash.

Keep diapers out of reach

When you take a dirty diaper off, put it out of the way – babies can reach pretty far, and a little hand covered in poop is the last thing you need.

Check your bag

Always check your changing bag before you leave the house. Make sure you have a good chunk of diapers, plus your pack of WaterWipes – the world’s purest baby wipe.

Pick the correct size

If all of a sudden, your diapers keep leaking, it might be because your baby is ready for a bigger size.

Do whatever works for you

Change your baby wherever is most convenient and safe at that time, even if it seems unconventional – in the car, on your lap, on the beach - even in their stroller. We can promise you, your baby doesn’t care, so if it works, it works.

When to change a diaper

There is lots to consider when you have a newborn and knowing when to change a diaper might be a little tricky. After a while, you’ll know your baby best and when their diaper needs changing but as a guide, these times are generally when you should consider changing their diaper:

  • After every feed

  • As soon as possible after they’ve done a poop

Once your little one can sleep through the night, well-padded diapers should last 12 hours so you won’t need to worry about changing again until the morning!

‘The first time I changed my baby’s diaper was when a nurse reminded me, quite a few hours after he’d been born,’ says Luisa, mom to Luca, 4. ‘I was mortified because it hadn’t even occurred to me to change him - I was just lying there staring at him! But he was all fine and from then on it was in my head to do it regularly.’

Diaper changing and dealing with sensitive bottoms

Babies really do pee and poop frequently, plus there’s a lot of cleaning up involved, so it’s not unusual for their skin to occasionally get irritated.

It's not just regularly cleaning your baby's delicate skin that can prove problematic for them, though. The skin and immune system of a newborn is incredibly sensitive so even things such as the dyes in their clothing, the laundry detergent you use, and even dedicated baby products can irritate the skin.

WaterWipes can help on this front – the world’s purest baby wipes, they contain 99.9% water and a drop of grapefruit seed extract, making them the only choice for newborn skin.

"I was surprised by how much I hated changing diapers,’ says James, dad to one-year-old Bella. ‘But their little bottoms are so soft and sensitive, so wiping them all the time then wrapping them up again in these plasticky pants always felt a bit wrong. I think that’s one reason I was keen to potty-train so quickly!"

How do I know if my baby has a diaper rash?

With sensitive baby skin also comes the possibility of skin complaints. That's why keeping on top of regularly changing your baby is important - if they sit in their diaper for too long, they can develop an uncomfortable rash.

We have put together a full diaper rash guide, but here are the common signs your little one might have it :

  • Tender, inflamed skin on your baby's bottom

  • They're displaying uncharacteristic discomfort

  • Crying or fussing during diaper changes or when the area is being washed

  • You might also notice small red dots around the rash

Diaper rash isn’t something to worry about, it’s very common and all babies will experience it in some form or another. Instead, keep on top of it, know when to change a diaper to keep them clean, check their skin regularly and ensure you treat any symptoms as soon as possible.

Public diaper changing tips

When you feel as though you don’t know what you're doing, changing a diaper in public can be a little stressful. In fact, fear of changing a diaper outside the house might get so intense that parents can be put off going out altogether.

So first of all, just know – you’re not doing anything wrong. There is no ‘perfect’ way to change a diaper and there is certainly no ‘perfect’ baby that always lies still. You're doing your best and these tips should help you along the way.

Remember – Diaper changing is essential

We know that while changing a diaper in public may not be your first choice, medical practitioners advise that leaving a baby in a dirty diaper can lead to contact dermatitis - so if there are no adequate facilities at hand, you may not have any other option.

"I had a real complex about changing diapers in public, so when I first had to, at a friend’s birthday picnic, I walked for ages to try and find somewhere private," says Issy, mom to Charlie, 4 and Cecila, 1.

"It was a horrible grubby patch of ground and I did it in a real rush to get it over with before anyone could see me. Now, I really don’t mind as much, I’d rather get my daughter out of a dirty diaper quickly…"

Ways to change a diaper without proper facilities

  1. In the stroller

  2. On your lap

  3. Back seat or trunk of your car

All of these options can easily be achieved with a travel changing mat and a well-stocked changing bag – you'll never feel caught off guard again!

In the stroller

Sometimes it’s possible to change your baby in their stroller, and can be helpful if there are no changing facilities nearby – or if the ones on sale leave little to be desired.

On your lap

Little babies can sometimes be changed on your lap, made especially easy if you have a travel mat to hand. Although a scarf or sweater can also make good substitutes.

Back seat or trunk of your car

The back seat or trunk of your car can be extremely helpful if you want to change your baby with a little bit more privacy. Keeping a stock of diaper-changing supplies in your car as well as your changing bag will help to make sure you’re always prepared for an impromptu change.

At first, changing a baby's diaper in public can be a little embarrassing, but once you have your routine sorted, it'll be a breeze – so don't be discouraged. Check out our list of tips below to learn all the things you need to consider, no matter where you are.

Changing the diaper of a newborn is a tricky job at first but just keep calm, take some deep breaths (although not while holding the diaper), and remember - you’ll be a pro in no time. Finally, keep in mind that practice makes perfect and before long, you’ll be changing diapers in your sleep! No, really.

Now you know how to change a baby’s diaper, you’ve likely realised that the reality of diaper changing is very different from the sanitized version shown in adverts or on TV! Want to learn more about caring for a newborn? Whether the baby is on the way or you’re just looking for tips, take a look at the WaterWipes Parenting Community Hub for more articles.

References:

  1. Business Insider, The Best Baby Safe Laundry Detergent You Can Buy, https://www.businessinsider.com/best-baby-laundry-detergent?r=US&IR=T [Last accessed 15th September 2020]

  2. Mayo Clinic, Diaper Rash, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diaper-rash/symptoms-causes/syc-20371636, [Last accessed 10th September 2020]

  3. Kids Health from Nemours, Diaper Rash, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/diaper-rash.html, [Last accessed 10th September 2020]

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Diaper Dermatitis, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/diaper-dermatitis, [Last accessed 10th September 2020]

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