Tori Kropp, RN / Baby Care Basics


Newborns go through 10 to 12 diapers a day. So, even if you've never changed one before having your own baby, you’ll quickly learn the tricks of the trade. In the mean time, these easy-to-follow directions can make those early attempts less taxing.

1. First, find a safe, flat place to change your baby. Set your infant down on her back. Unless you're changing her at ground level, keep one hand on your baby at all times to prevent accidental falls.

2. Unfasten the used diaper. If your baby has had a bowel movement, try to remove as much fecal matter as you can by using the front unsoiled portion of the diaper to wipe it away from front to back.

3. Gently remove the remaining stool with baby wipes. To thoroughly clean her bottom, you'll need to lift your baby up by her ankles. Once all the fecal matter is gone, clean the genitals and the surrounding skin with a clean wipe. Don't forget to check her labia and thigh creases as stool can collect there. When changing a girl, it's particularly important to wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from entering the vagina. With boys, you'll want to lay a cloth diaper or washcloth over his penis to avoid an unexpected shower.

4. To prevent and treat diaper rash, apply an ointment such as AquaPhor, A& D, Balmex, or Desitin to her bottom.

5. Open up a fresh diaper and slide it underneath your baby. If it's a disposable, the tabs go underneath your baby's back. If you're using cloth make sure you leave yourself enough fabric to pull in front and pin – most cloth diapers now are used with Velcro outer pants so pins aren't necessary.

6. Pull the diaper up between your baby's legs and up to his waist. If your baby's umbilical stump hasn't fallen off yet, you'll want to turn down the top edge to allow the cord exposure to fresh air. When diapering a boy, first position his penis down into the diaper so that urine won't seep out the top.

7. When using a disposable diaper, open the adhesive tabs and pull each side tightly across the front to fasten. You should do the same for cloth diapers, but instead of tape you'll need to pin the diaper in place or use the Velcro fasteners and an outer cover.

8. Check for how much space is between the baby’s thighs and the diaper. It needs to fit snugly, but not pinch or bind. You should be able to fit one finger between the diaper and your baby. If it doesn't fit quite right, unfasten the diaper and make the necessary adjustments before refastening.