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How to Change a Diaper in 5 Easy Steps [+ Additional Tips]

How to Change a Diaper in 5 Easy Steps [+ Additional Tips]

Changing the diaper probably won’t be your favorite parenting task.

However, this important skill will soon be second nature to you. After all, newborns may need a diaper change every two to three hours.

To help you master changing diapers, I’ll tell you all you need to know about it in today’s article.

How to Change a Diaper in 5 Steps

How to Change a Diaper in 5 Steps

Though I’m still a soon-to-be-mom, I’ve had my fair share of changing my nieces’ and nephews’ diapers.

Based on my experiences, I’ve narrowed down the diaper-changing process to five easy steps:

Step 1: Place Your Baby on Their Back

Lay your baby on their back on a flat surface. This can be a:

  • Changing table
  • Dresser with a changing pad
  • Crib
  • Bed

If you’re not using a changing table, remember to spread a protective cloth (such as a thick towel or waterproof pad) first.

During the whole diaper-changing process, always keep one hand on your baby. That’s because I’ve noticed that even if a baby can’t roll yet, they can squirm their way around.

Step 2: Remove the Dirty Diaper

Remove the tabs (or snaps if you’re using a reusable diaper).

Gently grasp your baby’s ankles and lift them slightly. If it’s a poopy diaper, sweep the upper half toward the lower half to wipe as much poop off as possible.

Slide the diaper away so it’s out of your baby’s reach.

Step 3: Clean Your Baby

Use baby wipes or a washcloth and warm water to wipe your baby’s diaper area. Be especially mindful of hygiene when cleaning your baby after a poop.

When changing girls, wipe from front to back to reduce the risk of UTI. Ensure that you don’t get poop in the vaginal area too.

Meanwhile, when changing boys, remember to fully clean around the penis and scrotum.

Boys might also surprise you with a fountain of pee. So, keep a clean diaper or cloth on the penis while you’re cleaning the diaper area.

When your baby’s skin is dry, you can put ointment or cream to prevent or soothe diaper rash.

Step 4: Put on a Clean Diaper

Lift your baby again to slide a clean diaper underneath them. The tabs on the side should be located under the baby’s bottom. Some diapers also have markings that indicate the front of the diaper.

For boys, point the penis downward so they don’t accidentally pee outside the diaper.

Pull the diaper between the baby’s legs and over their stomach to close them. 

Ensure that the diaper isn’t too loose, or it might leak. On the other hand, make sure it’s not too tight to the point that the skin gets red.

If you have a newborn but don’t have newborn diapers, the umbilical cord might still be attached. If that’s the case, fold the diaper down to help the cord dry out and fall off.

However, this part isn’t necessary if you have newborn diapers since they have an umbilical cord cut-out to accommodate the baby’s stump.

Step 5: Dispose of the Dirty Diaper

If you have a disposable diaper, wrap it into a ball, using the tab fasteners to secure it. Then, you can throw it in a diaper pail, plastic bag, or trash can.

IMPORTANT: Never flush diapers down the toilet.

However, if you’re using cloth diapers, flush the poop down the toilet, then wash them separately from other clothes.

Things You’ll Need When Changing a Diaper

Things You’ll Need When Changing a Diaper

It’s important that you have all the diapering essentials ready before you start changing diapers.

Below are some things you’ll need close at hand:

1. Clean Diapers

Having clean baby diapers on hand is a given. However, I think having at least one other spare is a good idea, just in case.

For instance, your baby might start pooping when you’ve just finished changing.

2. Unscented Wipes

You can also use moist cotton balls, water wipes, or a washcloth to wipe your baby.

If your baby is under one month old, it’s better to clean them with water rather than wipes first. That’s because they still have extremely sensitive skin.

You can start using wipes when they get a few months older. However, look for hypoallergenic wipes that are alcohol- and fragrance-free.

3. Change of Clothes

You’ll only need a change of clothes if the diaper has leaked. If it hasn’t, then you can still dress your baby in their previous clothes.

4. Ointment for Diaper Rash

If your baby has a diaper rash, an ointment can protect their tender skin from poop and pee — which can irritate the area.

However, remember that the diaper area should be as dry as possible before putting the diaper on. As such, don’t go overboard with the ointment.

Additional Tips for Changing Diapers

Additional Tips for Changing Diapers

The more diapers you change, the faster and easier it will be for you until you’re already moving on instinct.

However, there are additional pointers I’d like you to keep in mind when changing diapers:

1. Wound Care

If your baby has a healing circumcision or umbilical stump, take more care in cleaning or rinsing the affected areas. The same applies to rashes and other wounds you might find in the area.

To be sure you’re giving your baby the best care possible, consult a pediatrician on how to handle those wounds.

2. Safety

Regardless of your baby’s age, never leave them unattended on any elevated surface.

Always keep one hand on them, and keep all your diaper-changing needs within your reaching distance.

3. Comfort

Diaper-changing isn’t the most exciting task for a parent. However, you should always ensure that your baby is comfortable throughout the process.

For instance, don’t grasp your baby’s ankles too tightly when lifting them off the dirty diaper. Don’t just plonk them onto the clean diaper either.

You also shouldn’t fasten the diaper too tightly. 

We all want to avoid leaks, but a too-tight diaper will cause pressure on the baby’s stomach. This will make them uncomfortable and might make them spit up.

Too-tight diapers might also cause rashes because of trapped moisture and rubbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you perfect diaper changing, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions below:

How Can I Tell if My Baby Needs a Diaper Change?

The surest telltale signs that your baby pooped are the grunts and grimaces you’ll get from them. You’ll also smell it soon enough.

As for peeing, a disposable diaper typically has a liquid-sensitive, color-changing stripe. Alternatively, you can feel the diaper or look inside.

If you’re concerned about changing diapers while your baby is asleep, you’ll be happy to know you don’t necessarily need to do so. This is especially since this can interfere with their sleep. 

Only change the diaper if your baby is uncomfortable or they have a very wet or poopy diaper.

You can put your baby in overnight diapers to lower the chance of leaks too.

Should I Use Baby Powder and Diaper Creams?

You don’t need to use baby lotion, oil, or other creams unless your baby has a diaper rash or a history of repeat rashes. If you need to use ointments, only use them as needed. 

If your baby has particularly sensitive skin, use a barrier ointment — such as petroleum jelly or zinc oxide. However, these are only compatible with disposable diapers.

Consult your doctor about your options if you’re using cloth diapers.

As for powder, avoid baby powder made with talc or cornstarch since it can irritate the skin. On top of that, they can be harmful if your baby inhales them.

How Can I Prevent Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is quite common in babies. However, you can reduce the risk of your child getting it in several ways:

  • Check your baby’s diaper every two hours or so and change it immediately.
  • Always clean your baby’s diaper area during changes.
  • Don’t use scented products on your baby’s diaper area.
  • Pat (instead of rub) your baby’s diaper area when drying.
  • Don’t use plastic pants. Ensure that you don’t put the diaper on too tight as well.

When Will I Need to See a Pediatrician?

A baby’s poop and pee will look different from ours — especially in their early days. You’ll notice sticky, dark black-green meconium or brown stool.

White or blood-stained vaginal discharge is also normal for the first two weeks of life. 

But if this continues after two weeks, you should consult your doctor. A consultation is also a must if the discharge turns yellow or develops an odor. All these can be a sign of an infection.

Breastfed infants tend to have rust-colored urate crystals in their first few days after birth. That’s because breast milk is high in protein. 

However, urate crystals are also a possible sign of dehydration. If the crystals persist after the first few days and are accompanied by other signs of dehydration, you should see a doctor.

You should also consult a doctor if your baby’s diaper rash doesn’t clear up after a few days, they seem to be in pain, or their skin is red and raw. These might point to an allergy or other health condition.

Conclusion

Changing diapers might be a parent’s least favorite task.

However, if you finish the steps I’ve listed above, you’ll find that it’s easier than you think!

Since babies go through many diapers a day, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Aside from simply changing the diaper, remember to also pay attention to your baby to check for signs of discomfort or other health issues that need to be checked by a doctor immediately.

Josie Mariano
Josie Mariano

Hello, my name is Josie Mariano, and I’m proud to say I’m a soon-to-be mom.
Although my partner and I are still waiting for our firstborn to arrive, we’re already doing whatever it takes to prepare for our baby’s needs.
I’ve been joining a lot of parenting forums and asking my doctors for advice on how to prepare for my baby. They’ve all been very informative and I was able to spot the areas I still need to work on.
At the same time, I also rely on my mom for tips on what to do during my pregnancy journey.
With everything that I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share these experiences to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents!