How to Change a Diaper: Parent’s Complete Guide
This is the parent’s guide to how to change a diaper.
We’re going to cover everything you’ll need to change your baby’s diaper.
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Introduction to Diapering Your Baby
I used to dread doing diaper changes.
I’ve come to realize it was because I hadn’t done it a lot before our son was born so I would just fumble through it.
Changing your baby’s diaper if you’ve never changed a diaper before can be a challenging experience.
But as you get the hang of it or someone teaches you how to do it, you’ll realize it’s not hard.
As any newbie parent will tell you trying to learn how to change a diaper on the fly can leave you with a crying and fussing baby…
…and get you peed on if you’re not careful.
No worries though after going through this guide and a couple of practice changes you too can be changing a smelly diaper like a pro.
Gather Up Your Supplies
Before you start changing a diaper, you’re going to want to make sure you gather up everything you’re going to need.
You never want to leave your baby unattended especially if they’re on a changing table.
A perfect example:
Luckily the child was fine, but our take away is not to leave your child unattended on a changing table.
What You’re Going to Need:
There are several things you’re going to need:
→ First things first, you’re going to need a baby with a dirty diaper. If there’s no dirty diaper, there’s nothing to change.
→Next, you’re going to need a safe surface to change the diaper.
A bed for example or a changing table would be best.
I know plenty of parents change their kid’s diaper on their bed.
I’ve never been too big of a fan of this because even with a diaper changing veteran things could get messy quickly.
Generally, it’s a lot easier cleaning up your changing table than it will be cleaning up your bed.
→ If you’re not using a changing table, then you’ll need a changing pad.
→ You’re going to want some diaper wipes or wet wipes with you.
Even if you’re not cleaning up poop still make sure you have some close by.
→ Don’t forget the diaper rash ointment.
You want to try to manage and prevent rashes before they get out of control.
→ Last and most definitely not the least is a clean diaper.
Wait...What about Baby Powder?
The main point of the powder was to soak up the moisture in the diaper.
While reducing friction and incidence of baby rashes (source).
We don’t use baby powder.
I know there’s been some scare at one point or another about does baby powder cause cancer or not.
Regardless of that baby powder itself can be a respirator risk if your baby is inhaling it.
There’s a risk of it harming a babies’ lungs, especially to preemies (source).
How to Change a Baby's Diaper: Step-by-Step
You ready for this?
Step 1: Lay Your Little One Down
Go ahead and lay your little one down on their back on the safe surface that you’re going to use to change their diaper.
If you’re not using a changing table, it’s going to be on a changing pad.
If you’re using a changing table, don’t forget to use the safety straps on the changing table to prevent your little one from falling.
Step 2: Remove the Clothing
Go ahead and remove your baby’s clothing. If it’s a onesie unbutton it.
If its pants go ahead and remove them.
Step 3. Prepare your New Diaper
Go ahead and grab your new diaper and open it open and fan it out and place it next to your baby ready to go.
I like to do this ahead of time because once you start removing the old diaper, you want to decrease the amount of time between you removing the old diaper and you putting on the new diaper.
I’ll get to the reason why in the next step.
Step 4. Keep From Getting Peed On
Next up is removing the old diaper.
Untape the old diaper but don’t remove it just yet.
You want to make sure that you don’t start removing the diaper until your ready.
Sudden exposure to air can cause your baby to start peeing.
If it does happen, it’s not the end of the world.
It’s a little frustrating.
But not the end of the world.
You just want to try to take the necessary steps to reduce the chances of it actually happening.
What you do at this point is, and this will depend on what orientation you’re your baby is relative to where your supplies are.
I’m going to go with the orientation of you facing the baby, and he or she has their head oriented to your left side with their bottom on your right side.
Grab a couple of diaper wipes.
With their legs spread a little bit open up the diaper.
Place the wipes over their private area. I’ve heard of this being done with a washcloth or a burp cloth.
Either one is fine the pros with a diaper wipe is you can just throw them away when you’re done with them.
This will be useful if they start peeing.
The wipes help to contain them a little bit, so you or your baby doesn’t get sprayed in the face by urine.
If you’re laughing at this point or thinking that doesn’t happen.
Step 5. Secure Your Baby’s Ankle in Your Hand
With your left hand gently but firmly and securely grab your baby’s ankle.
Lift them up
Make sure the diaper wipes are still covering the private area.
You’re left hand is holding the feet which means your right hand is going to do the cleaning.
With your right hand grab a couple wipes and cover the dirty diaper with it.
This is especially important if your baby pooped.
This way you’ll cover the dirty diaper and reduce the likelihood of your baby getting dirty again while you’re cleaning their bottom.
Some parents will go ahead and remove the dirty diaper after they lift their baby’s bottom. You could do that. But there are a couple things you should keep in mind. If you’re baby poops (or continues to poop) while you’re changing their diaper, you’re going to have a dirty changing area. Even if they don’t poop there's a chance you could dirty up your changing area where you’re going to put your clean diapers on.
Step 6. Start Cleaning Your Baby’s Bottom
Grab diaper wipes and start cleaning your baby’s bottom.
Make sure to wipe front to back if you’re baby is a girl.
This way you can help reduce the likelihood your little girl getting a bacterial infection (source).
If you have a chubby baby (which most babies are) make sure you get under the skin folds.
Step 7. Throwing Away the Dirty Wipes
Wondering what to do with the dirty wipes?
There are two ways you can handle this.
Put the dirty wipes on the dirty diaper folding the wipes, so the messy part is covered.
It’s a little tricky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.
The other way to handle it especially if you’re home is to make sure your trash bin (We use a diaper genie) or whatever you’re using to put your dirty diapers in is next to you.
This way you can just throw it in the trash as your using it.
Step 8. Pull Out The Dirty Diaper
After you’re done wiping, pull out the dirty diaper.
Try to roll it up and if you’re near your diaper genie just throw it in there.
Place your new diaper underneath your baby. (Make sure the side with the tape is the side that’s beneath your baby.)
Step 9. Put on the Clean Diaper
Go ahead and set your baby’s bottom back down on the diaper.
Make sure to apply diaper cream or whatever else you need to.
Go ahead and pull the bottom other part of the diaper through your baby’s legs.
Now, using your right hand, you’re going to gently but firmly hold it up against your baby’s waist.
While you have the diaper secured. Use your left hand to fasten each side of the tape. One after the other.
Step 10. Check The Diaper You Just Placed
Make sure the diaper is not too snug or loose.
The two finger rule is usually a good indicator.
With the two finger rule you want to make sure you can slide two fingers at the top of the diaper.
Another thing to watch out for is if the diaper starts falling whenever you pick up the baby.
To prevent accidental leaks watch out for loose diapers.
Step 11. Replace Your Baby’s Clothes
Go ahead and put your child’s clothes back on.
Step 12. You’re Done
Pat yourself on the back. After you wash your hands of course.
Your baby is good to go with a fresh diaper change.
→ Follow your pediatricians’ instructions
→ You want to make sure the diaper is snug but NOT too tight.
→ Keep an eye out for any rashes that might develop
→ There are straps on baby changing tables for reason. Make sure you’re using them.
→ Trash bins like the diaper genie can be very help for holding diapers while containing the diaper smell.
→ Try to set up your diaper changing area to have everything you need within arm’s reach.
→ If you have a child that’s been circumcised make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions
→If you notice you’re having a lot of blowouts or “pee explosions” you might need to go up in diaper size.
Diapering Frequently Asked Questions
These are just some questions you might have as a new parent when it comes to changing your baby’s diaper.
How Often Should You Change a Diaper?
When it comes to changing a diaper, it’s really going to depend. Your baby is going to pee maybe 20+ times a day.
Do you know how expensive it would get to change all those diapers?
So here’s a rule of thumb.
In general, you can wait for the diaper to get more urine in it and get a little heavy before changing it.
Don’t wait too long or your baby could soil his pants.
If your baby poops, you’ll want to change that as soon as possible.
The fecal material can be more of a skin irritant and higher risk of infection.
How Many Diaper Changes Per Day?
As for diaper changes it's going to vary based on the age of your baby.
For newborns, your probably looking at about 10 to maybe 12 diaper changes a day.
Once your child gets to about one month of age, you’ll be looking at about 8-10 diapers a day.
Once he or she is over five months, you’re probably looking at about 8 diapers a day (source).
Make sure to consult your pediatrician of any concerns.
Do all Diapers Fit the Same?
Some parents do wonder about finding the perfect diaper.
While we’ll discuss this in more detail in a later article, you should know it’s going to really depend.
Ignoring “sensitive vs. non-sensitive” skin or “scented vs un-scented” diapers when it comes to leaks and avoiding blowouts sometimes it’s a guessing game.
Just like how not all babies are the same or the same size. Not all diapers are the same or fit the same.
If you find a parent that claims Pampers is the best you’ll find another one that says Huggies is the only way to go.
You could use those and find out none of those work for you, but the store brand diapers work perfectly for you.
Unfortunately, some of it will be trial and error.
As a side note that’s why if you have a baby shower you should request for a couple different brands of diapers just to see.
In the end after following our steps and getting some practices under your belt you too will be changing a diaper like a parent who’s had 7 babies.
Keep in mind there are more than one ways to skin a cat as the saying goes.
What you’ll find is there are different ways and methods to changing a diaper.
This is a guide to help you learn the basics.
As you change more and more diapers you’ll adapt and create your own steps that fits your style and the layout of your diapering area.
How was your first diaper changing experience?
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