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How to Change a Diaper

If you’re wondering how to change a diaper correctly, you’re not alone. Parenting, as rewarding as it is, can also be complicated. Diaper changing might seem like one of the more straightforward parts of being a mom or dad –– but just like potty training, managing meltdowns, or teaching a kid to ride a bike, it’ll go a lot better with a little strategy. And considering how often you’ll swap out diapers in your baby’s first year, we’re confident you’ll want things to go as smoothly as possible. 

Not quite sure where to start, or need a refresher? Here’s everything you need to know about how to change a diaper quickly and safely.

How to change a diaper, step by step 

  1. Sanitize your hands: To prevent spreading germs to your baby, always wash your hands before changing a diaper. 
  2. Gather your supplies: So you don’t have to step away from baby during the change, make sure you have everything you need beforehand –– for example, a fresh diaper, wipes, change of clothes, and diaper cream.
  3. Place the baby face-up: Lay your child on his or her back on your changing surface.
  4. Take off the dirty diaper: Open the diaper by unfastening the tabs. As you open it, gently lift the baby’s bottom away from the dirty diaper by their ankles.
  5. Set the dirty diaper aside: Move the diaper away from the baby. You can fasten it shut later!
  6. Wipe the baby: Always clean the baby’s diaper area with a fresh wipe (or several!) before putting on a new diaper. To prevent infection, wipe girls from front to back.
  7. Set dirty wipes aside: Put the soiled wipes on top of the dirty diaper. 
  8. Put a clean diaper under baby: Slide the diaper beneath baby’s bottom –– the back should be labeled “back” but if it’s not, note that the tabs to close the diapers will go from the back and be secured in the front. 
  9. Apply creams as needed: Apply a barrier ointment if you use one. If your baby has diaper rash, now’s also the time to apply a cream (or any other product recommended by your doctor).
  10. 10.Fasten the diaper shut: After pulling the front of the diaper up and over your baby’s belly, pull the tabs open and secure them to the front of the diaper with the fastening tape. 
  11. Clean up: Throw away the dirty diaper and wipes, or get your reusable diaper and insert ready to wash. Wipe down and sanitize the changing pad, while you’re at it.
  12. 12.Wash your hands: Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Then, get the baby dressed and wait for next time!

Diaper-changing tips

Choose the right diaper 

No matter what steps you take during a change, always start with choosing the right diapers! First, make sure yours are the correct size. The top of the diaper should be right below the baby’s belly button. If it’s too low or you can’t fully secure it closed, then it may be time to upgrade to a bigger one.

If your child is wetting through a diaper at night, opt for overnight diapers, which are usually a lot more absorbent. Don’t have any on hand? Try sizing up your baby’s normal diapers!

Have the right supplies on hand

Preparation is key for a swift and efficient diaper change! Decking out your diaper-changing station makes all the difference. Always keep back-ups of go-to products like diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and a change of clothes for messes. Hand sanitizer is great to have around, too!

Pay attention to potential health issues

A diaper change is a great time to keep an eye out for potential health concerns. If you have a newborn, check the umbilical stump and circumcision site. For babies of all ages, keep an eye out for redness in the genital area or bottom, which can be a sign of diaper rash. Try your go-to diaper cream first, but if the rash doesn’t clear up within a few days, then reach out to your pediatrician. Discharge in baby girls or urate crystals in the diaper, sometimes caused by dehydration, are also reasons to reach out to your doctor.

Practice safety first

It may go without saying, but always keep one hand on your baby when you’re changing –– especially on an elevated surface like a bed or changing table. Never leave a baby alone on an elevated surface, even just for a second, and even if you think they can’t roll over yet. 

Enjoy it while you can 

Changing a diaper –– especially in baby’s earliest months –– can get old, fast. As with every phase in a child’s life, we promise all that baby-wrangling and clean-up won’t last forever. And truthfully? When it ends, you might miss it! Your baby’s only this little once, so do your best to be present and soak it all up –– even when things get a little messy.

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