The Ultimate Guide to Diapering

Although my daughter Lily is a tween now, I still remember like it was yesterday how happy I  felt bringing her home from the hospital.  And I also remember how overwhelming it felt to think about all the different things – like changing a diaper – that I had to do to take care of her.  


It seems like there are a ton of sites out there, offering advice to new parents, but I think that it is better to keep things simple and follow three basic rules: 


Rule 1: Be Prepared 


To make diapering easier for you and your baby, be sure to have the supplies you need on hand – and a lot of them!  You will be doing this several times a day until your baby is potty trained, at age two or three years. Having everything in one place will save you time and energy, both of which are precious when you are taking care of a baby! The technique that worked for me was to have everything I needed organized in and around the changing table in the corner of Lily’s nursery. 


Here is what you will need:


  • Changing mat. This can be a pad specifically designed for the purpose, any water-proof pad, even a bath towel – whatever suits your needs the best.  The aim is to keep the baby clean and protect the surface you’re working on.
  • Diapers, either cloth or disposable.  You may need to try out several sizes and brands to find the best fit for your baby.  Bear in mind that soiled cloth diapers will need to be rinsed and laundered promptly!
  • Wipes to clean up the baby after removing the soiled diaper.  Preferably they should be hypoallergenic and free of alcohol and fragrances.
  • Diaper rash cream.  Apply to clean, dry skin at each changing to prevent diaper rash.
  • Diaper pail or equivalent.  You will need a place for dirty diapers.  If you don’t have a designated diaper pail, a small lidded garbage can will work.  Even a sealed plastic bag will do just fine.
  • Travel kit with the necessary supplies.  This is optional, but a good idea when you need to be out with your baby.


Rule 2: Know Your Technique


Find a clean and safe place to change your baby.  Again, I preferred a changing table for this but any convenient  level surface will work.  If you are using an elevated surface such as a table, keep one hand on the baby at all times to prevent falling, and never leave the baby unattended.  Be sure to have all the supplies you need within arm’s reach.


Follow these steps for a successful diaper change:


  • Remove the baby’s outer clothes.  If the baby is in  a romper suit you can move it up to the chest to keep it out of the way.
  • Unfasten the diaper.  Holding the baby’s legs and bottom up, remove the dirty diaper and dispose of it in the receptacle of choice.
  • Clean the diaper area gently from front to back with disposable wipes.  You may need several wipes if the baby had a large or  messy bowel movement.
  • Using a soft, clean cloth gently pat and fan the area dry. Making sure the baby is thoroughly dry will help prevent diaper rash.
  • Place a clean diaper under the baby’s bottom and apply diaper cream.  Talk to your doctor about which brand might be best for your particular needs.
  • Pull the diaper up between the legs and fasten the tabs. Tabs are located on the back side of the diaper and will be attached to the front.  The diaper should not be too tight, but sufficiently tight so it will not leak.  As a rule of thumb, if you can get two fingers between the diaper and the baby’s skin, it is tight enough.
  • Put the baby’s clothes back on.  Wash your hands, and the baby’s hands too, if necessary.


Rule 3: Keep these Special Considerations in Mind


Changing newborns: (first eight weeks) requires more frequent diaper changes than older babies – up to ten times a day. Keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers each day; this will help your doctor determine if the baby is getting enough to eat. Some pediatricians recommend using only warm water and cotton balls to clean up newborns. Disposable wipes contain cleaning agents that may be too harsh on newborns’ skin.


Changing baby boys:  Gently wipe the penis and around the scrotum. It’s a good idea to cover the penis with a cloth or clean diaper while changing. Otherwise you may get an unexpected “shower”! Point the tip of the penis downwards when putting on the clean diaper.


Changing baby girls:  Take extra care to wipe front to back while cleaning to prevent urinary tract infections. Gently separate and wipe the labia. Make sure no fecal matter is near the opening of the vagina.


While diapering is one of those things that can seem overwhelming or scary at first, most parents do learn very quickly and keeping these three rules in mind can definitely help!



One response to “The Ultimate Guide to Diapering”

  1. Kimmy Lee Avatar
    Kimmy Lee

    Wow! Thank you for this article 🙂

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