Parent Time

Tips on How to Change a Diaper and Changing Practices

Changing a diaper can be a breeze, but if you're new to the diaper game, it can be terrible for you and no fun for your baby, either.

The best diaper changes occur when everyone's in a good mood and when the diaper changing environment is organized, with everything close to hand. If you've ever stood by a changing table with a handful of grubby baby, a soggy, filthy diaper, and the nearest diaper pail across the room, you know the frustration of not having your changing area set up properly for what could be a calm, orderly operation. Read on for tips ideal diaper changes!

  1. Get it together. Here's what you'll need.
    Clean diapers
    Diaper pail, preferably with a foot pedal
    Baby wipes—and a lot of them, or a warm, wet washcloth. Sometimes, both!
    Receiving towel for drying a wet baby
    Baby powder or lotion, or petroleum jelly or diaper rash ointment
    Changing table with room for holding clothes
  2. The most important thing of all when doing a diaper change is to be aware that, as soon as you've got a naked, squirming infant on the table, something in the kitchen will boil over, the phone will ring and Fedex will arrive with someone else's package. If you can't ignore everything else and get on with the diaper, either put the baby in the crib or clutch her to your breast and take her to whatever household challenge is arising. Never, under any circumstances, leave a baby, even for a split second while you turn away for the powder, on the changing table alone. Baby can and will roll off the changing table, even if it has rails. Like a sailor on his ship, always keep one hand on the baby. If your child is a wiggler, try putting a mobile or brightly colored picture over the changing table to distract her while you work.
  3. Clean it up. Use baby wipes or a wet, warm washcloth to wipe your baby's bottom from front to back if there's been a bowel movement. If you child has really had a doozie, you may have to resort to a half bath. Either way, after wiping baby clean, dry with a soft towel or blow dry with your lips (babies sometimes think that's a really fun game, being part tickle, part air). Pay attention to getting creases in bottom and legs clean before rediapering. If your baby is inclined to diaper rash, you may want to apply diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly to clean, dry baby skin.
  4. Lift the baby's legs up in one hand and slide the diaper underneath the bottom with the other. Apply ointment, powder or lotion if needed, and take time to warm the lotion in your hand. Fit the diaper by fastening the side nearest you, then roll the baby to tighten the other side and fasten it. Look for disposable diapers with tabs that can be refastened—sometimes it needs adjusting, and it's a shame to have to throw out a clean diaper just because the tabs are stuck to the waistband. Diapers should be snug but not tight; look for breathable diapers to prevent diaper rash.
  5. Boys and girls being different, diaper changers should be aware that a boy baby may decide there's still something left to do—right in the middle of the diaper change. To prevent a pee-soaked caregiver, drape the fresh diaper over your baby's penis when applying lotion or powder; it may save you from having to change your own clothes!
  6. The philosophy of diapers. The frequency with which you will be changing diapers will soon make you and expert. Your best diapering time may be twenty seconds—other times may take closer to twenty minutes. Instruction is best from an experienced teacher—someone who's changed a thousand diapers (or any parent of a child older then two months). A guide can show you step-by-step the best ways to remove and deal with dirty diapers, how to put a diaper on so it stays on, and the various distractions and tricks used by semi-professional diapering experts. You'll soon develop your own tricks and learn what works best with your own child. Remember, for some babies, diaper changing is fun, involving nudity (which babies love), clean, damp fun and your complete attention. Diapering, while one of life's necessities, also gives you time to play with an appreciate your baby.

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