For new parents and caregivers, diaper changing can be a challenge. Most babies wear diapers for anywhere between 18 months and two or three years. With time and practice, diaper changing will become second nature.
Being prepared, changing the diaper regularly, and thorough cleaning can all make the process go more smoothly and help reduce the spread of germs. Here are tips for diaper changing.
Change diapers often to keep them clean and dry.
This will your baby stay comfortable and clean — and avoid a diaper rash.
How do you know when to change the diaper? You’ll probably be able to tell by the smell. Still, if it feels heavy, or if you peep inside and see urine or stool, it’s time to change. As much as possible, change the diaper immediately after it’s soiled.
Choose your changing location wisely.
The changing area should be close to a sink but far from food or food preparation. A kitchen counter is a definite no.
You’ll want to use the same location for changing to reduce the risk of spreading germs around your home. Decorations or visuals in the room can help distract the baby and capture their attention while you change them.
You can also have toys put aside to keep their attention, but you’ll have to disinfect them afterwards. Check out this manual from the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information on creating the ideal diaper changing area, and a step-by-step guide to diaper changing.
Prepare the changing area.
First, be sure to cover the changing surface with a disposable liner or diaper pad. If you’re in public, wipe the changing table with a disinfectant wipe.
Have all your supplies on hand.
Then gather your supplies within arms reach of the changing area. You’ll be able to keep an eye or a hand on the baby while still reaching for everything you need. It will also help you reduce the spread of germs because you won’t have to touch additional surfaces to get what you need.
Here are some things to have on hand in the changing area, or in a diaper bag: a paper liner or diaper changing pad, the fresh diaper, a change of clothes (if needed), disposable wipes for cleaning the baby and wiping your hands, a plastic bag (or two) for soiled clothes, gloves (if you want), diaper cream, and an alcohol-based gel (if soap and water are not available for you to wash your hands).
If you’re using a diaper cream, dispense it onto a disposable tissue beforehand so it’s easy to apply during the change.
Wipe carefully, from front to back.
Each time you change your baby’s diaper, clean their genital area thoroughly with gentle, disposable wipes. It’s important to wipe front to back (especially for girls) so you don’t spread germs from the buttocks to the baby’s genitals, which can lead to a urinary tract infection.
For baby boys, wipe the penis clean. Then you may want to cover their penis with a cloth to prevent them from spraying urine.
Secure and discard soiled diapers.
Once the soiled diaper is removed, carefully fold it inward or roll it into a ball so you keep the germs contained. Then, throw it into a hands-free trash can, along with used wipes and gloves.
If you have to stash the diaper until you can dispose of it, secure it in a plastic bag and keep it away from other surfaces. The same goes for soiled clothing — be sure that they’re stored in a separate bag.
If you’re using cloth diapers, check out Healthline’s guide for washing cloth diapers.
Watch out for diaper rash.
Diaper rash is common among babies. It’s caused by a combination of moisture, friction, and irritation from the baby’s urine and stool. An allergic reaction or sensitivity to certain products may also cause diaper rash.
Dab with gentle wipes if your baby has a diaper rash.
When it comes to diaper rash, cleanse your baby gently with fragrance-free wipes. Dab at their skin to clean it, as wiping can make the irritation worse. You may also use a spray bottle with warm water to help cleanse the area.
Using diaper creams creates a protective barrier between the baby’s skin and their excretion. After cleansing the baby’s skin, wipe your hands clean then apply the diaper cream with a clean tissue or a fresh glove.
Clean up carefully.
When you’re done changing the diaper, clean all visible surfaces carefully with disinfectant products. Be sure to follow the instructions and use a product appropriate for the type of surface.
Throw away all soiled materials — including the liner, gloves, tissues, and the soiled diaper. Wipe up any messes. Be sure to wash your hands and your baby’s hands thoroughly.
If you’re using a reusable cloth diaper pad, wash it regularly.
Remember to keep your eyes on the baby at all times!
Babies may squirm and fuss during changing, so keep an eye on them! Even better, keep one hand on them at all times. Some changing areas may have a belt you can use to secure the baby.
Whatever you do, stay vigilant, and don’t leave them unattended.
If you notice a diaper rash, seek treatment for your baby.
You can treat diaper rash with an over-the-counter cream containing zinc oxide or petrolatum. Talk to your doctor if the rash doesn’t go away after about 3 days, or your baby has other symptoms.
With Alpha, you can consult with a doctor online. Our team of licensed providers will review symptoms and provide a treatment plan for your baby. We also treat itchy rashes in children, which can be caused by hives or contact dermatitis. Any medication we prescribe will be mailed straight to your door with free shipping. Get started today!