10 Simple Steps to Changing a Diaper

What's the big deal with changing a diaper, you ask? It's pretty straightforward: remove the soiled diaper and replace it with a fresh one. To an experienced parent, changing a diaper is child's play. Newbies, on the other hand, may not even know where to begin. Don’t worry. In a few short weeks, you will graduate from a nervous novice to an expert diaper changer.

Whether you prefer disposable diapers or the cloth versions, the process is relatively the same. So, let’s break changing a diaper down into 10 simple steps.

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10 Prepare the Area

Before you begin, you need to sanitize. It’s important to wash your hands well to prevent the spread of germs. After your hands are clean, you can prepare the change area. If you don’t have access to a change table, lay a towel, a receiving blanket, or a travel change pad on a bed or a floor.

Prepare your area first before you get the little one in place because you don’t want to forget anything. Once you start changing the baby, you won’t be able to go far.

9 Beware of Safety

If you’re using an elevated surface, always keep one hand on the baby. Some change tables include safety straps. Even if your change table is equipped with a strap, never turn your back on the baby, even if it’s for a split second. Babies can wriggle around and roll off a table or bed in a matter of seconds. Don’t leave them alone.

Also, try to perform diaper changes in the same spot to limit the spread of germs. This is why you should never change a diaper on the kitchen counter. The kitchen is an area where people eat and prepare food. Changing a diaper in this area can contaminate the space. 

8 Gather Your Supplies

If you were going into battle, you’d arm yourself with the proper supplies. While changing a diaper isn’t quite the same as preparing for war, in both cases, you need to be ready in case a “bomb” goes off, but more on that later.

You can’t change a diaper without supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A clean diaper
  • Sensitive baby wipes or damp, warm wash cloths
  • A dry wash cloth
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Plastic bag
  • Toy (just in case)
  • Extra change of clothes (just in case)

7 Assess the Damage

How you start the diaper change will depend on what’s in the diaper. Before you unfasten the diaper tabs, evaluate what’s in the diaper with a quick peek in the waistband or a smell of the back of the baby’s diaper.

The contents of the diaper will be one of these four possibilities:

Nothing: babies go through 6-10 diapers a day, which is about one diaper change every 2-3 hours. Even if it’s been a few hours since the last change, the baby could be dry.

Urine: you will be able to smell urine.Also, awet diaper feels heavy. If the little one is sleeping, you don’t need to wake up the baby to change the diaper. But, when the baby is awake, change the diaper as soon as you can.

Poop: you will easily smell a poop-filled diaper. These diapers, especially, need to be changed as soon as possible to prevent diaper rash and discomfort.

Explosive Poop: this will look like a brown bomb went off under the baby’s clothes. An explosive poop will be evident all around and even up the baby’s back. You will not only see it, but you will smell it. In this case, place an extra blanket under the baby for extra measure. 

6 Undress the Baby

Lay the baby down in your prepared change area. Remove the baby’s clothes, or at least the clothing on the lower half of the body. Hopefully, the baby is cooperative. But, if the baby is fussy, use the toy as a distraction. If you don’t have a toy, talk to the baby. Explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Or, sing a song. Be prepared with a distraction so you can change the diaper as easily and quickly as possible. If you use a toy, remember to disinfect it after the change.

While the dirty diaper is still on, place a clean diaper underneath the baby. If you’re confused about which way the diaper is turned, the back of the diaper has tabs.

5 Close the Dirty Diaper

Pull the sticky tabs away from the baby’s diaper. If there is poop, use the front half of the diaper to wipe the excess poop from the baby’s bottom. Lift the baby’s bottom by grabbing both ankles with one hand. Next, fold the diaper in half, placing the clean side up under the baby’s bottom.

Boys sometimes urinate during a diaper change, so shield yourself from the penis. Use a clean cloth to prevent a surprise spray of urine from landing on you or the baby.

4 Cleaning the Baby

Clean the front of the baby with a wipe or a damp wash cloth. To prevent infection and the spread of bacteria, wipe a baby girl from front to back. Place the dirty wipes in the plastic bag. Use another wipe to clean between the cheeks of the baby’s bottom; use two more for poop. Ensure there is no poop between the folds of the skin. Double check the creases in the thighs.

When the skin is clean, lift the baby’s legs, and slide out the soiled diaper from under the baby. Roll or fold it up, and use the tabs to secure it into a dirty diaper ball. Try to make the outside as germ-free as possible. Place it in the plastic bag. If you have a cloth diaper, fold it in half and place it to one side until after the change.

3 Protect and Soothe

Now that the baby is fresh, take a clean cloth and pat the area dry. Remember, don’t rub too hard. A baby’s skin is delicate. Be gentle so you don’t cause irritation.

Next, apply lotion and powder as directed by your pediatrician. You can apply petroleum jelly or diaper rash cream or both. A dusting of talcum powder or cornstarch will soak up any remaining moisture. A clean and dry bottom is the best defense against diaper rash.

2 Replace With a New Diaper

If you placed a clean diaper underneath the baby in step 6, you’re ready to go. If not, this is the time to put a clean diaper under the baby.

Fold the front half of the diaper up to the baby’s stomach. With boys, place the penis down to prevent leaks. If your newborn still has an umbilical cord stump, make sure not to cover the healing area with the diaper. Also, ensure the diaper is not too bunchy between the legs. Excess material can cause irritation.

Peel off the protective backing, and fasten each sticky tab to the front of the diaper. Make sure the fit is snug, but not too tight that it’s pulling. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably in the front of the diaper. If you notice marks around the baby’s skin when you take off the diaper, it was too tight. Either secure the sticky tab a little looser or go up one diaper size.

1 Clean Up

Make sure the baby’s hands are not dirty. Sometimes, movement can cause the baby to touch poop. Once you’ve double checked the baby is clean, put the clothes back on. Place the baby in a safe spot; an open space on the floor or in a crib is good.

If you use cloth diapers, shake the excess poop into the toilet. Rinse the diaper and soak it before throwing it into the laundry pile. Always wash cloth diapers separate from the other laundry.

If you use disposable, tie the plastic bag filled with the dirty diaper and wipes, and dispose in a garbage or a diaper pail.

Don’t forget to clean the change pad. If it becomes stained, replace it. If you used a blanket on top of the pad, throw it in the wash, even if it doesn’t look dirty. Keep diaper change areas as hygienic as possible. Last but not least, wash your hands to prevent germs from spreading to other areas in the house.

The more diapers you change, the more comfortable you will become. Soon, you will become fast and efficient, changing diapers like a pro.

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