Most parents think that changing diapers isn’t hard. Of course, there’s a reason that prenatal and birth classes often involve diaper-changing practice! It’s because there’s more to changing a baby’s diaper than new parents might think.
The thing is, plenty of moms never give this topic a second thought. What works, works, right? Of course, there are plenty of other things to think about, especially for new moms, because feeding is often the primary focus. So it’s either nursing practically around the clock or getting up to mix formula bottles at all hours of the night, or maybe both.
And then there’s swaddling, rocking, pacifying, playing, bathing, and more to be done—plus the baby’s laundry and washing bottles and mom’s bathing (ha!) and food for the grownups and taking care of the house and pets and don’t forget the new baby’s siblings. So who has time to dwell on how they’re changing diapers?
But there is a right and a wrong way to change a diaper, and even if moms have gotten by this long just doing what they’re already doing, that doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. Here are 20 diaper changing no-no’s that moms should think twice about doing again at the next diapering time.
20 Not Wiping In Certain Scenarios
Most parents, especially new parents, are keen on keeping their babies healthy and happy. And part of wanting to protect them, particularly in this more delicate stage, is worrying about their skin. After all, changing diapers ten times or more per day can take a toll on the baby’s skin. So parents might think that it’s not a good idea to use wipes filled with chemicals and potentially harsh ingredients at every diaper change. The problem is, urine has ammonia, so even if it’s “just” a wet diaper, not wiping could cause more issues that you’d think. So choose some gentler wipes, but keep wiping!
19 Skipping The Hand Washing Before
Although most people are familiar with washing their hands after they use the restroom, did you know you’re supposed to wash your hands before changing the baby’s diaper, too? It’s not something that most moms do, but it’s actually a no-no to touch your baby’s diaper area with unclean hands. Think about wiping them clean, but then dipping your bacteria-filled hands into the diaper cream or squeezing some from the tube onto your hand and then slathering whatever germs are on your mitts onto your kiddo’s sensitive areas. Ew, right? But if you wash your hands before, then your kiddo gets the benefit of a germ-free change. Well, at least germs from mom.
18 Not Washing Hands After
This is another of those commonly known things that moms often slack off on. After all, you might assume that since you didn’t actually touch your baby’s skin (or diaper contents) during the change, that you just don’t need to wash your hands. First of all, ew. Second of all, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after changing your baby, even if it was just urine and you didn’t think you touched anything. You really don’t know whether you’ve brushed up against a germ or not, and if you don’t believe me, smell your hands after a diaper change. Yeah, pretty icky.
17 Wiping The Wrong Way
There’s really no guide book when it comes to babies, but one of the commonly known diaper changing concepts is that you should wipe a certain way for girls, but also a certain way for boys. With girls, it’s just like what us grown-up ladies are used to: wipe from front to back. This keeps bacteria from getting into sensitive areas. With boys, it’s just as simple: wipe like a finger without messing with anything else. Mamas who are wiping any other way would do well to check out some info online about why messing with anything other than a simple wipe-down isn’t a good idea.
16 Bending The Baby’s Legs
Here’s one that might come as a surprise to a lot of moms who are on their second or subsequent kid: you’re not supposed to pull their legs upward to remove the old diaper and place a clean one. It seems intuitive, right, to grab their feet or legs with one hand and pull them upward. But pediatricians say that this can cause hip and even back problems for babies, and that it’s rough on their little bodies. Ideally, parents should try to roll their babies to the side to move their little bottoms out of the way of the messy diaper or to place a clean diaper underneath.
15 Waiting To Not Waste Diapers
I know that some parents legitimately don’t have the cash for lots of diapers, so this one is a bit of a cautionary tale. While it might be tempting to wait a little longer to change your child’s diaper so that you can save a diaper or two, it’s not really a good idea. Most mamas are guilty of this in terms of waiting for their kiddo to go number two before they change a wet diaper, and if you know your tot’s schedule that closely, it might make sense. But mostly, waiting until the soiled diaper is literally sagging off their little bottom is not a good look for anyone.
14 Skipping Changes For More Sleep
Sure, it’s hard to drag yourself out of bed most times when your baby needs you in the middle of the night. But the baby is hungry, so you shuffle out of bed and get them fed, where they promptly pass out again. But what if their diaper is wet, and you didn’t have time to change it before their feed because they were hollering from hunger? If it’s a tiny bit wet, probably no worries, but if the diaper is soaked already, it’s not a great idea to let it go the rest of the night. Not only could your kiddo get a rash, but you’ll probably have to get up again later when the diaper leaks or your kiddo gets uncomfortable.
13 Doubling Up To Avoid Leaks
Doubling up can be a good thing in some scenarios, depending on what you’re talking about. But in terms of diapers? Nope, not usually. It could be a helpful thing if you cloth diaper and can add extra fluff in the diaper for nighttime. Lots of parents use thicker diapers for nighttime anyway. But if you’re using disposable diapers, doubling them up won’t do a whole lot. The wetness will still be against your baby’s skin, so even if they wet through the inner diaper, the outer one won’t do anything to help. Except, perhaps, keep the first diaper from leaking onto your baby’s clothes and bedding, but that only helps you and not your soggy tot.
12 Walking Away From The Changing Station
So many parents are guilty of this one, and it’s not because we’re bad moms! When you’re about to change the baby but you realize you don’t have a diaper, does it make more sense to run and grab one, leaving the baby on the changing table, or should you take your now-naked and perhaps messy little one with you? Most moms dash to get a clean diaper or wipes or whatever, especially if the baby is young enough that he can’t roll over. But honestly, it’s not a safe thing to do—and although carrying your naked baby with you is a bit of a risk, it’s preferable to another type of risk from leaving them alone on a high surface.
11 Double-Dipping In The Diaper Cream
Just like dipping in the diaper cream without washing your hands isn’t a good idea, neither is re-dipping after you’ve applied some product to your kiddo’s bum. Thankfully, lots of products come in tubes these days, so you can probably just squeeze some more out and avoid this issue altogether. But if you have a tub of cream for the baby, you should either clean your hands with a wipe in between applications, or just go wash them. That way, you don’t introduce bacteria to the container of rash cream and wind up with more health-related issues later from putting extra bacteria on the baby!
10 Not Expecting Privacy
Not too long ago, an adult educator caught heat for suggesting that parents should ask their child’s permission before changing their diaper. The thing is, many people misinterpreted her comments to mean that if the kid said no, you couldn’t do it. But what she really meant was that we should let our kids know what we’re doing to them and why, so they recognize that it’s their body and not the property of someone else. So one of the mistakes moms often make with diaper changing is not giving their kiddos privacy. Whether it’s a nosy adult or a group of kids, taking your baby to a quiet and private area to change them is a good idea to get away from it all and maintain privacy.
9 Sniffing The Baby’s Bottom
Okay, so this isn’t necessarily something that moms consider a no-no in any way, but it is pretty gross. With today’s diapers, you can usually see when the baby is wet, thanks to those colored lines. But I think we’ve all been beyond number one, and that’s the point at which we hold our babies up to our noses and smell their little tushies to check for number two. The problem with this is that especially with newborns, you can’t always smell when there’s something icky in there. Especially breastfed newborns, as their poo tends not to smell as harsh as formula fed babies’. So stop the tushy sniffing, moms—it’s gross and ineffective!
8 Handing The Baby The Phone
You might have a squirmy child who is reluctant to lie down or just reluctant to have a diaper change in the first place. But please don’t hand them your cell phone to placate them. First, it’s kind of gross, considering they could easily drop the phone into the diaper area. Yuck. But also, let’s be honest ladies: how many of our husbands or partners take their phone to the toilet and stay there for ages? Do we really want our kids to start that bad habit this early? Maybe try some toys instead, ones that are especially for diaper changing time.
7 Skipping Sizes (Or Stretching Them)
So many parents stress over leaky diapers without realizing what the culprit is. And most of the time, leaks happen because the diaper simply doesn’t fit right. It could be that every baby is built differently, which is true, but it could also be because some brands of diapers are made differently. If you have multiple brands of diapers, check this out, because you’ll notice that the sizes are not only different sometimes, but the fit is vastly different. Therefore, skipping sizes or stretching diapers to fit is a definite no-no, but plenty of moms do it anyway because they don’t realize it leads to leaks.
6 Tossing Diapers Straight In The Trash
Cloth diapers often get a bad rap because moms and dads don’t like the idea that they have to scrape the mess off of the diapers before they can wash them. First, I can say that it’s not that bad, but second, you’re not supposed to dump number two in the trash with disposable diapers, either! Don’t believe me? Look at the diaper package next time you buy a big pack. There will be a note or symbol on there somewhere that says to remove solids before tossing the diaper in the trash. And guess what “solids” means? Yep, you are truly supposed to scrape the number two, too.
5 Not (Double) Bagging Them In Public
There are some no-no’s that moms still do because of convenience, and this is one of them. When you’re out somewhere and change your baby’s diaper, you probably wrap it all up into a bundle to keep the stuff inside from getting out. But depending on where you’re tossing the diaper, that’s probably not enough. In a bathroom, sure, that might be okay, it smells in there anyway. But other places, particularly common areas or eating areas? Bagging up the diaper (or double bagging depending on the mess) is not only polite, it’s really just the right thing to do.
4 Changing In Public Spaces
We’ve all struggled with finding a decent place to change our babies while out somewhere, especially if there’s no changing table in any of the restrooms. But changing your kiddo on a fast food table or another eating surface? That’s gross and rude for the next person who’s going to eat there. And yes, I’ve been there, but at the very least, we can aim for using the bench instead of the top of the table. Or we could go out to the car, or maybe even lay something down on the bathroom floor as a last resort (throwaway or washable changing pads are great for these just-in-case scenarios).
3 Forgetting To Clean Surfaces After
Whether it’s your local fast food joint tabletop or your personal changing station at home, wherever you end up changing your child, you should clean up afterward. Not just because number two is gross, but also because bacteria is literally everywhere. Even if you changed the baby on a surface that still looks clean afterward, that doesn’t mean there aren’t germs hopping around. And it doesn’t have to be heavy-duty bleach or Lysol you clean with, either. Just some regular cleaner is enough, or you can go antibacterial if you want. The idea is to clean up so no one gets sick or gets gross stuff on them.
2 Allowing Time For Leaks
In general, most parents don’t intentionally skip diaper changes (unless it’s to get more sleep or to stretch the diapers out, both of which were mentioned above), but most parents are a bit undereducated in terms of how often babies are supposed to be changed. With really small infants, it’s common for them to potty every time they eat, which is anywhere from every hour to every four hours in most cases. Whatever the age, though, moms, get ready to ramp up your diaper changing skills, because odds are, your kiddo needs about twice as many changes as she or he is actually getting.
1 Not Packing Enough Diapers
We are all guilty of this one, and it’s a no-no that keeps happening despite our best efforts! Forgetting enough diapers is the number one mistake that mamas are guilty of making, and it’s just something that happens to us all. At some point, you won’t have a diaper when you need one, and you’ll either have to put your baby’s pants back on without one, or you’ll have to make do with what you have on hand. Pro tip? Carry receiving blankets everywhere—you probably do already if you have a younger baby—and that way you can tie up your own makeshift cloth diaper when you forgot you didn’t refill the diaper bag and are dealing with a blowout. You’re welcome.