Expert Tips for Diaper Changing

Eliza Martinez
Baby diaper change

You probably haven't given much thought to diaper changing techniques. After all, there's so much to think about as you get ready to become a parent, diaper changing might not be high on your list. However, there is an art to changing a diaper skillfully, so if you've never done it before, get ready for some surprises.

Get Prepared

There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a diaper change, only to realize the wipes are across the room. The experts at Huggies suggest you assemble your gear in one central location, such as the changing table or your diaper bag, so that when it's changing time, you have everything you could possibly need right at your fingertips. Include the following items anywhere you change diapers so you're all set for whatever that diaper holds:

  • Clean diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Extra clothes, just in case the mess spreads
  • Baby powder

Provide Entertainment

Your newborn isn't going to put up much of a fight when it's time for a diaper change, but an older baby probably won't hold still because there are so many other things drawing her attention. Keep your changing area stocked with fun entertainment to keep her attention for a few minutes while you change her. This way, diaper changes are fun enough for your little one that you can get them done quickly and move on to more exciting activities. Try the following ideas to ensure that your wiggly baby doesn't get away:

  • Prop up an unbreakable mirror so your baby can gaze at herself.
  • Keep a small basket of handheld toys on the changing table and hand your baby one before you get started.
  • Attach a musical mobile above the changing table and turn it on each time you change a diaper.
  • Talk to your baby to keep her attention riveted on you and help prevent squirming.

There are many other ways to entertain baby while you change a diaper. Melissa Koch Formby, CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, owner of Baby's Beginnings and educator at Swedish Medical Center says, "Use this time to have fun by singing songs, making faces, even wearing a funny hat. Point out colors, lights, shapes, toys, etc. which also helps little ones learn about their surroundings." Trial and error should tell you which ones your baby enjoys the most.

Perfect Your Technique

Chances are, after plenty of practice, you'll find yourself whipping off the old diaper, cleaning up the mess and securing the new one in no time flat. However, while you're learning, you're likely to encounter some things you hadn't expected. For example, many parents learn pretty quickly that it's important to keep a boy covered, lest you get urinated on. "There is a proper way to change a boy's diaper and a girl's diaper. Beware though, you can get "sprayed" by both genders," says Formby.

  • Start by unfastening the dirty diaper, being careful not to open it until you're absolutely ready to clean up and put on a fresh one.
  • Gently grasp your baby's ankles and hold them up, suggest the experts at Huggies.
  • Quickly open the diaper, using it to wipe as much feces off as possible.
  • Use wet baby wipes or a warm, wet washcloth to remove other waste from your baby's behind, the creases in his legs, under and around the genitals and anywhere else that was dirtied. Keep in mind that babies can often blow their diaper up their backs and even into their hair. Wipe baby girls from front to back to prevent vaginal infections, advises Formby. Make sure to clean under a boy's testicles, add the experts at Parenting magazine.
  • Apply diaper rash cream, if needed, and allow your baby's skin to air dry for a couple of seconds, suggests Formby.
  • Scoot a new diaper under his bottom, pull it through his legs and secure the tabs. Make sure the diaper is snug so it doesn't leak, but not so tight that it constricts movement or cuts of blood flow. Kids Health notes that marks on your baby's skin where the diaper sits means it's too tight. Formby advises that you might also find putting the new diaper underneath your baby before removing the dirty one helps keep the mess contained should your baby start going again before you're finished.
  • Make sure to wash your hands after changing a diaper to prevent the spread of germs that can make your family sick, urges Kids Health. Make sure your little one is in a safe place while you do so.

Pay Attention to Safety

It's always a good idea to keep safety at the top of your mind when you care for your little one. Babies aren't well known for staying still and a squirmy, wiggly infant can easily roll off the changing table and get injured. By following some simple tips, you can ensure that diaper changing time doesn't end in tragedy:

  • Keep a hand on your little one at all times, advises Formby. Many changing tables come with straps that you can fasten around your baby to keep her in place. Even a newborn can roll off the changing table so never leave her unattended.
  • Formby notes that parents should always use a secure surface, such as a changing table, the floor, or your bed. This helps ensure that your baby doesn't fall off and get hurt.
  • If you simply can't keep your baby from trying to get off the changing table, consider moving your whole operation to a cushion on the floor. That way if she takes off while you reach for a wipe, she isn't in danger of falling and getting hurt.

Making It Simple

Changing diapers is just part of your daily routine when you have a baby. For easier management, try creating a couple of diaper changing stations in your home. This is particularly helpful if you have more than one level in your home. That way you can get the job done efficiently no matter where you happen to be.

Expert Tips for Diaper Changing