Diaper Changing Hacks that Every New Parent Needs to Know
Having a baby is one of the most miraculous and rewarding experiences imaginable, and there are a million things to look forward to when you’re expecting. The baby fever was real during both of my pregnancies, and I spent hours every week imagining every aspect of motherhood from holding my baby in my arms for the first time to dressing them up and playing with them. Despite the countless blessings associated with parenthood, there are some less-than-glamorous tasks that come with the job as well – such as the frequent changing of your baby’s dirty diapers...
Changing diapers is a reality that every parent has to deal with, and it’s actually something that my husband and I felt like we had mastered during the first three years of parenthood with our daughter. It wasn’t until we had our son last year that we realized how much more difficult it could be to change a boy’s diaper than a girl’s, and that we still had much to learn. We’d never had much trouble changing our daughter’s diaper, but our son had a tendency to surprise us when we were least expecting it. After a few ‘incidents’, we quickly realized that we needed to rethink our approach and refine our diaper changing strategy.
The first step to changing diapers like a pro is to make sure you always have the essentials on-hand, so that you’re prepared to handle any emergency. Clean diapers are the first thing you’re going to need, and it’s always good to keep a few extras lying around in case of unexpected accidents. You’ll also want to keep a clean pair of clothes handy, and if you’re using cloth diapers you’ll need some clean diaper wraps as well. Next you’ll need something to clean the baby with, such as baby wipes, cotton balls or a soft washcloth. Hypoallergenic wipes are perfectly fine for newborns without diaper rash, but the best way to clean a sensitive bottom is to use cotton balls and warm water. You can dry the baby afterwards using a soft washcloth. Pre-moistened wipes are good for older infants, as long as they’re hypoallergenic and free of alcohol and fragrances. Lastly, if your baby is as rambunctious as ours, you may also want to consider playing some sort of white noise or light music in the background to soothe your baby. We found this to be incredibly helpful, especially when it came to our son.
Now that you have all the necessary tools at your disposal, you’re ready to change your baby’s diaper! You can start by checking to see if the diaper is dirty in the first place. You’ll probably know when your child has pooped based on the grunting noises and faces they make – especially newborns. If that doesn’t clue you in, the smell that follows close behind most likely will. If your baby is wearing a disposable diaper, you can often tell if they’ve peed by looking at the color-changing, liquid-sensitive stripe to see if it’s changed color. Otherwise, you can always just peek inside or quickly feel the diaper. It’s also important to have a designated surface and changing pad on which to place your baby while you change them. The more stable and level the surface, the better.
Once your baby is lying flat on the change pad, you can start by undoing and opening the sides of the diaper. Then, you can lift the baby’s legs and use your wipes or washcloth to gently clean the diaper area. Make sure that you wipe from front to back, especially when changing a girl’s diaper. After you’ve cleaned your baby, you can slip the soiled diaper out from underneath them and put a fresh one in its place before gently letting the child’s legs down. As I mentioned before, and as we learned the hard way, boys will sometimes have a tendency to spray without warning during diaper changes. To prevent any potential accidents, you can always keep the diaper area covered with a clean cloth or diaper while changing your baby until they’re clean and dressed.
As soon as you’ve finished changing your baby’s diaper, you can fold the diaper closed and use the tab fasteners on the sides of the diaper to partially secure it. Make sure you avoid flushing it down the toilet, and that you dispose of it in a trash can, plastic bag or diaper pail if possible. It’s always a good idea to keep a few spare plastic bags handy in case you need to change your child on the go. Finally, you can dress your baby in some fresh clothes and wash your hands, and you’re good to go!
It's worth noting that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that parents generally avoid the use of baby powder made with cornstarch or talc, due to the fact that it’s unnecessary and can be potentially harmful if inhaled. Baby oil and baby lotion are also only essential when your baby has a diaper rash, and should be used as needed. If your baby does end up needing moisturizer, make sure to wait at least a few minutes for their bottom to dry after cleaning before applying the lotion. If the rash persists after a couple of weeks, call your child’s pediatrician and schedule an appointment.
Changing diapers isn’t the most glamorous aspect of parenthood, but it’s certainly a part of every parent’s journey, and it can be intimidating at first. It’s important to remember that preparation is everything, and that every child is different. We never imagined that we would be adapting and learning new diaper changing tricks three years into parenthood, but here we are! I guess that’s why they say that having kids always keeps you on your toes.