If you are a first-time parent, looking at your fragile newborn certainly inspires joy. But looking at its diaper might inspire a different emotion altogether. Changing a diaper is really not that difficult; it just requires practice and organization – and you’ll have plenty of time for both.
First, prepare all the supplies you’ll need because you must not leave your baby unattended for even a moment to grab something you’ve forgotten. You’ll need to do this in a safe place, such as a changing table or bed, and prepare the surface with a changing pad or other cloth. Have on hand a clean diaper, wet wipes or warm washcloth, and a burp cloth. Optional, but helpful items, include baby powder, lotion, or diaper rash ointment.
Here is the procedure for disposable diapers: First, lay the baby down on the safe surface. If using a changing table, you can engage the safety straps. Pre-open the clean diaper and have it nearby. Make sure that the wet wipes are already showing through the opening in the container. Remove the baby’s clothes and the soiled diaper. You can then place a burp cloth over the lower part of the baby (especially if a boy) to help prevent getting sprayed by any accidents.
Clean the diaper area with the warm washcloth or wet wipes, being sure to wipe from front to back. Move the legs around gently to be sure to get into all the skin folds, and don’t forget the lower back. Gently lift the baby’s legs up and slide the back of the clean diaper underneath (the back is the side with the tape tabs), leaving the front hanging. Apply any additional products that your doctor has directed (lotion, powder, ointment, etc.). Now pull the front of the diaper up, and use one hand to gently hold it in place. With the other hand, pull on a tape tab and bring it around to the front of the diaper, repeating on the other side.
Finally, check that the diaper is not too tight by seeing if you can fit two fingers in the top front of the diaper. Get baby dressed again – and prepare to do the whole thing over in about two hours!
The procedure for cloth diapers is basically the same, but you will want to pre-fold the cloth diaper before attempting to do a diaper change.
Also remember that if you are not using diapers designed for newborns (with a cut-out along the waistband) you should fold down the front part of the diaper to allow the bellybutton to heal. And while you may think something as small and sweet as your baby could never do you harm, the fact is that changing diapers IS a dirty process – you’ll want to wash your hands after changing her diaper, or keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at the changing station.
Keep in mind that it is not at all necessary to change your baby’s diaper each and every time she urinates. Once every two to three hours is sufficient – and no, you don’t need to wake your baby to change her wet diaper to keep her on that schedule. However, in the case of a bowel movement, which can irritate the skin, you will want to change her as soon as she wakes up; earlier if she’s going to be asleep for a longer period.
Keep in mind – babies can sense fear and apprehension, and if you approach diaper-changing with that attitude, they’ll pick up on it. Be happy and brisk about the task, giving your child a small toy to distract herself with (as she gets older), and it will be more than routine. And – don’t worry. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert at changing a diaper.