How to change a diaper

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Learn about what is involved in changing a baby's diaper.

Key points

  • Things to keep on hand for diaper changes include baby wipes (or washcloths), a change pad, diapers and ointment or petroleum jelly.
  • If a baby develops a diaper rash, change them frequently, especially after each bowel movement.

Never changed a diaper before? Don’t worry, you’ll get lots of practice. When it comes to diapers, practice really does make perfect. 

It is helpful to have all the supplies on hand before attempting to change a baby's diaper. Try to keep all the necessary items in one place, such as in a small diaper bag. Things to keep on hand include baby wipes, a change pad, diapers and ointment or petroleum jelly. Some people prefer to use warm water and washcloths instead of baby wipes, since the wipes can sometimes irritate a baby’s skin.

Here are some other tips:

  • Change a baby's diaper often, normally every three to four hours or whenever they are fed, to avoid the development of diaper rash. Babies who have frequent poops, and who are not changed often enough, may be prone to diaper rash.
  • Place a new diaper under the baby’s bottom before you begin removing the soiled one. That way, if they urinate or pass stool during the diaper change, the waste will be contained. This will happen more often than you might expect!
  • When you remove a baby’s dirty diaper, place it out of their reach right away.
  • If you are changing a boy, drape a washcloth or wipe across their penis immediately to avoid getting squirted.
  • If you are changing a girl, make sure to wipe from front to back to avoid infections caused by bacteria getting into the vagina.
  • After wiping off the baby’s bottom, let it air dry for a few minutes. Some people like to put ointment or petroleum jelly on a baby’s bottom; others do not. Over time, you will find out what works best for the baby.
  • When doing up the diaper on a boy, make sure to point their penis downward to avoid leaks going up the front of the diaper.
  • If a newborn baby’s umbilical cord stump has not yet fallen off, make sure to roll down the front end of the diaper so that the stump is exposed to the air. This is more comfortable for the baby, and it will keep the stump dry and less prone to infection.
  • Always wash your hands well with soap and water after changing a diaper.

How to change a diaper

Last updated: June 18th 2024