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New Parent Guide: How To Ace Diaper Changes (And The 'Wee' Surprises That Can Happen)
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Onjira Leibe
  • Changing diapers is part and parcel of caring for your baby. While it seems pretty straightforward, you’d be surprised to know that there are new parents intimidated by this duty.

    How to change your baby’s diapers like a pro

    For first-time moms and dads, here’s a guide on how to properly put a diaper on your little boy or girl, plus, what to expect so you can avoid any “wee” surprises. Remember: it’s important to change diapers frequently to prevent irritation and diaper rash.

    1. Have your essentials on hand.

    Even if you have a diaper changing station inside your bedroom, it will also help to set up changing stations in different parts of the house, so you are ready for any slip-ups. This can be as easy as having boxes around the home with the following essentials:

    • Clean diapers
    • Clean cotton balls, washcloths, or wipes
    • Change of clothes
    • Ointment or cream to soothe diaper rash
    • Toys (to distract a squirmy baby)

    2. Change your baby’s diaper

    Here’s a step-by-step guide from Parents on how to properly put a diaper on your baby.

    Start by putting baby on a changing table or a flat surface. Make sure it is anchored on the floor. Never leave him unattended and always keep your eyes and hands on your baby because he might not stay still all the time.

    Get a fresh diaper. Unfold it and place the closures toward baby’s head. In general, the side with pictures go in front.


    Remove the soiled diaper. If you can’t immediately put it in a trash can, make sure it is out of your baby’s reach.

    Clean your baby. Use wet wipes for older infants. For newborns and babies who are prone to diaper rash, you can soak cotton balls in warm water to clean the area and pat dry with a washcloth. (You may also try hypoallergenic wipes if your baby can tolerate it.)

    Place your baby on the fresh diaper. Make sure the top of the diaper in the back should be at belly button level. Apply cream as needed.

    Talk to your baby! Your loving touch and soothing voice can calm a fussy baby and will make diaper changes easier. Make eye contact and let your baby know everything’s okay.

    Close the diaper. Thread the front of the diaper through baby’s legs and fasten it. Make sure the fit is snug but not tight.

    3. How to clean a baby girl properly

    Remember to wipe from front to back when cleaning the genital area. This is to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI), according to BabyCenter. Doing it the other way around (bum first) makes it easier for bacteria to get to the urinary tract and cause infection.

    Do not pull the labia back and clean inside. Just make sure to properly pat dry with a washcloth and apply ointment after if needed.

    4. How to clean a baby boy properly

    The first step is to always keep the penis covered with a diaper. If you leave the penis exposed, you might get sprayed with urine!

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    Clean under the testicles and gently push them out of the way. Wipe under the penis and over the testicles, toward the rectum. Pat dry with a washcloth. Point the penis downard so the urine flows downward, too.

    5. Remember to pat dry before applying a diaper rash cream.

    Rash cream (or petroleum jelly) can act as a protective barrier between baby’s skin and a wet diaper, but make sure the bum is dry before applying it.

    “If it can lock moisture out, it can also lock moisture in, which defeats the purpose of keeping your baby’s skin dry,” explains pediatrician Dr. Ina Atutubo in a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article.

    6. Don’t cover the umbilical cord stump.

    Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will fall on its own (usually after about two weeks), so until then, the area must be kept clean and dry to prevent infections. “Covering the umbilical area keeps in moisture, which is a perfect environment for bacterial growth,” shares Dr. Atutubo.

    According to Parents, you may opt to “use a cotton swab dipped in water to clean away the sticky crust and fluid that can sometimes collects where the base of the umbilical stump meets the skin.” However, it is best to check with your pediatrician first before doing so.

    7. Bond with your baby!

    Changing diapers (especially soiled ones) is not always fun but think of it as a precious chance to have one-on-one time with your little one. According to Motherly, “The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance for engaging eye contact and communication.”


    Just enjoy these moments, moms and dads. You’ve got this!

    You can tell if your baby is dehydrated by the number of wet diapers they have in a day. Click here for a doctor's advice.

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