Diapering Your Baby

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Diapering Your Baby

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Diapering Your Baby

Changing diapers is not one of the most glamorous jobs, but it's also not difficult. Simply follow these guidelines:

First, gather your supplies. To change your baby, you will need clean diapers, pins, diaper covers (if using cloth diapers), water and washcloths (or diaper wipes). Keep your supplies close at hand. Never leave your baby unattended, even for a moment, on a changing table or other raised surface.

Next, choose a convenient location, such as a changing table, a bed or the floor. Most changing tables have a washable, padded surface at a comfortable height for adults, and drawers or shelves underneath to hold supplies. Many have a restraining belt and/or safety railing around the top to help prevent your baby from rolling off. If you use a bed, the floor or another surface, place your baby on a towel, flannel pad or foam changing pad.

Once you are ready, undo the straps or pins (be extra careful when using pins). Hold your baby's ankles in one hand and lift up his legs and buttocks. Slide the dirty diaper out from under him with your other hand.

Babies sometimes urinate during diaper changes. For boys, you can avoid an unexpected "sprinkling" by placing a diaper or towel over his penis after you remove the dirty diaper.

If your baby has had a bowel movement, clean the area with plain water and a washcloth or diaper wipes. Since newborns tend to have sensitive skin, use diaper wipes that do not contain alcohol or perfumes for the first few weeks. Girls should be wiped carefully from front to back to avoid getting stool in the area where urine comes out (urethra). This is a common cause of urinary tract (bladder) infections.

No lotions or powders are needed; in fact, they should be avoided unless your baby has diaper rash.

When your baby has a diaper rash, change diapers more often and, whenever possible, allow the skin in the diaper area to "air out" between changes. A zinc oxide ointment or petroleum jelly helps most cases of diaper rash. If the rash doesn't start to improve after several days, it may be due to a yeast infection. Consult your doctor, who might recommend a stronger medication.

To complete a diaper change, slide a clean diaper underneath the baby's bottom and fasten it. If you're using cloth diapers, hold two fingers between the diaper and your baby to avoid pricking him as you fasten the safety pin.

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dmtChildGuide
Last updated May 29, 2011


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