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We believe you should always know the source of the information you're reading. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies. While the frequent sometimes hourly diaper changes may not be your favorite part of the parent job, they're still part of the baby care package. And it's important for baby, too, since changing a diaper whenever it's wet or messy helps prevent irritation and diaper rash.
Here's everything new parents need to know about changing baby's diapers, including how to make the process as easy as possible. Once you've got everything you need ready to go, wash and dry your hands. If that's not possible, give them a good swipe with a diaper wipe. How to Bathe Your Baby. With a newborn, you'll probably know when your baby poops by the grunts and grimaces that clue you in; otherwise you'll get a whiff soon after your little one is finished.
You'll know your baby peed with a disposable diaper often by the liquid-sensitive, color-changing stripe on it and with a cloth diaper that's wet to the touch. If you still can't tell, a quick feel of the diaper or look inside it will do the trick. If baby is sleeping, there's no need to wake him for a diaper change. Unless your newborn is very wet and uncomfortable or has a poopy diaper, you don't need to put a new one on during nighttime feedings, either, especially if it will interfere with going back to sleep. With a newborn, the basic moves of changing diapers remain the same whether you're using cloth or disposable diapers.
A changing table, a dresser equipped with a changing pad, a crib or a bed preferably protected with a towel or waterproof pad all work.
Spread a protective cloth on the surface if you're anywhere but your own changing table. No matter where you're changing diapers, make sure to keep one hand on the baby at all times, even before your little one has started rolling over. Strapped-in babies also should remain with arm's reach. Unfasten the diaper and survey the scene, then follow the same basic rules for both boys and girls:. Once baby's diaper area is clean, slip the soiled diaper out and put a fresh one under baby before releasing baby's legs.
Pat baby dry before putting on the clean diaper or any diaper rash creams.
If the umbilical cord is still attached and you aren't using special newborn diapers, fold the diaper down to expose the area to air and avoid getting it wet. Fasten it tightly to avoid leaks, but not so tightly that irritation occurs you'll notice the telltale red marks during the next diaper change.
For disposables, wrap the diaper into a ball, using the tab fasteners to secure. Then throw away in your diaper pailplastic bag or trash can but never flush down the toilet. When you're away from home, carry a stash of plastic bags. Place the dirty diaper inside and tie the bag before tossing it into the trash. Put cloth diapers into a bucket with a tight-fitting lid ,or a vinyl bag if you're out, until laundry day.
As a rule of thumb, the American Academy of Pediatrics AAP recommends that parents avoid using baby powder made with either talc or cornstarch during diaper changes or bathtime. That's partly because babies don't really need it and powder can irritate their already-sensitive skin, and partly because if a lot of powder is inhaled, it can be harmful to little ones. You also don't really need baby lotion, baby oil or other creams when you're changing baby's diaper, unless your baby has a diaper rash.
In that case, you should use a barrier ointment plain old petroleum jelly often works, or a zinc oxide cream if your baby is in disposable diapers. Diaper ointments are generally not compatible with cloth diapers, so check with your pediatrician about what to do in that case.
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Getty Images. New baby in the house? Here's a handy diaper-changing how-to so you're not caught off-guard. Back to Top. In This Article. Continue Reading Below.
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How to Change a Baby's Diaper