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- A guide to baby diaper changing
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- Baby diaper rash: What it looks like and tips for treatment
As a new parent, diapering was one of those skills I had to learn, and do so fast. Here’s the thing: diapering isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s an all-day, everyday affair, at least for the next 3 years or so. What’s more, it’s a skill I have had to modify constantly as my newborn turned into a fussy infant and recently into a mobile toddler.
Thankfully, learning a few basics has helped smooth the process. Let me now share an in-depth guide on how to change a diaper and some diapering hacks that I have found particularly helpful in my journey.
What you need during diaper changes
It’s important to keep your supplies within reach and have a good place to lay your baby down when the time for a diaper change comes. The essentials are:
- Changing table or changing pad
- Diapers (either cloth or disposable)
- Disposable wipes and liners
- Diaper cream or ointment
- Diaper pail or disposable bag
- A clean set of clothes in case of a blowout
Steps for changing a baby diaper
Wondering how to properly change a newborn’s diaper? Follow the steps outlined below:
- Start by washing your hands with warm water and soap. Then gather the supplies you’ll need so that they’re all within reach.
- Next, place a disposable liner on the diaper-changing surface.
- Gently place your baby on the changing table so that they’re lying on their back.
- Unfasten the soiled diaper. Next, lift your baby, slide the diaper from underneath them and set it aside.
- Clean your child thoroughly using either disposable wipes or moistened cotton balls. Always start from the front and move to the rear.
- Dispose of the soiled diaper and dirty wipes into a diaper pail or trash can. If you had gloves on, these should also be discarded.
- Apply some diaper ointment or cream on your baby’s skin.
- Give it a couple of minutes to dry, then slide a fresh diaper under your baby’s bottom and fasten it.
- Clean your toddler’s hands using warm water and soap, then place the child in a safe spot where you can monitor them.
- Remove the liner from the changing area and throw it in the trash can. Use a disinfectant to clean the changing surface.
- Wash your own hands when you’re done cleaning.
How to change a boy’s diaper
One of the most important diaper changing tips for a baby boy is to always cover his penis during a change.
You can use a diaper, towel, or any other item that can absorb his pee in case he urinates in the middle of a change.
How to change a girl’s diaper
With girls, the most crucial thing to remember is to wipe from front to back. This is because baby girls are more prone to urinary tract infection (UTI).
To minimize infection risk, also remember to clean thoroughly between the folds of her skin.
How to tell if your baby is due for a change
How often should you change your baby’s diaper? This is one of the most commonly asked questions by parents, and rightly so.
Ideally, you ought to change their diaper the minute it becomes soiled. Sure, urine may not contain germs, and it’s not known to cause skin irritation, but stool is highly caustic and increases the risk of diaper rash.
To avoid such skin rashes, ensure that you change your baby immediately after they soil the diaper. Based on this, this is how frequently you’ll have to change them:
- Newborn: 8-12 diaper changes per day
- 3- to 8-month old: 8-9 diaper changes per day
- 5- to 24-month old: 6-7 diaper changes per day
- 18- to 36-month old: 5-7 diaper changes per day
How can you tell that it’s time to change your baby’s diaper?
- Check for signs of leakage on their clothing.
- Feel the weight of the diaper (soiled diapers are usually heavier than dry ones).
- The baby cries constantly despite being well-fed.
- Do the sniff test or check the wetness indicator if the diaper has one.
Where to change your baby
When I was shopping for my newborn’s essentials, a diaper changing table was the last thing on my mind. At the time, I considered those to be pricey furniture pieces that weren’t all that necessary. I thought that I only needed a changing pad and a comfortable surface to place my baby on.
However, a few weeks into parenthood I had come to realize just how important it is to invest in one of these baby changing stations (which I did). When it comes to diapering a baby, it’s crucial to have a dedicated diaper changing area for two reasons:
- It doesn’t strain your back: The biggest advantage of a diaper station is that it provides a comfortable height. If you have to change your baby while they’re lying on a mat on the floor, you put a lot of strain on your back and knees. Considering the number of daily diaper changes, you’re looking at a lot of pressure on these areas.
- It’s equipped with loads of storage: Most changing stations are fitted with storage units underneath. This way, you can keep items such as towels, creams, and diapers within easy reach.
You’ll have two options to pick from: a changing table or a dresser with a changing pad.
Changing table vs. dresser with a pad?
The key difference between the two lies in their design.
Dresser with changing pad
A nursery dresser can double up as a baby changing station if it’s fitted with a changing pad. Important to note though is that it’s not designed for this specific application. As such, it may not have straps and other features you’re likely to find in a baby diaper changing table.
What it will have instead is a ton of drawers for storing your baby’s clothes. Plus, it helps you save on nursery space in the event that you don’t have enough space for a dresser and a changing station.
If you have to use a dresser, check out Babyletto Hudson 3-Drawer Changer Dresser. It’s a classy piece of furniture that will look good in any nursery. In fact, you’ll be able to pick from 5 different color options. The changing station is positioned at the top, allowing you to change your baby from a comfortable height. Better yet, you’ll have 3 drawers and a storage cabinet with an adjustable shelf. This gives you plenty of space for your diapering essentials.
Consider equipping this dresser with a compatible changing surface like the Babyletto Contour Changing Pad, and you can comfortably use this as a diapering station. It has all the features you’d want, such as a firm padding, safety strap, and contoured walls.
If you have a slightly bigger dresser, the Summer Contoured Changing Pad should do the trick. It boasts a non-skid bottom that prevents your toddler from sliding off. It also includes a waterproof fabric, which makes for easy cleanup.
A changing table is a standalone piece of furniture designed specifically for the purpose of diapering. Its sides are usually raised, which keeps your baby from falling off or tipping over.
Some models even have straps that help you secure your toddler. Others double up as bathing units, making it easy to bathe your baby. Another thing I like about changing tables is that they come with plenty of storage space underneath.
5 best diaper changing tables
If you’re planning to buy a changing table, consider one of these top-rated models:
1. Graco Lauren Changing Table
Looking to invest in a changing station that you can move around easily? If so, the Graco Lauren Changing Table is your best bet.
The unit comes with a set of 4 rollers and 2 wheels that glide smoothly on any surface, giving you maximum flexibility. Moms particularly like the locking mechanism added to the wheels as it enables the table to stay in place.
Also included with this diapering station is a water-resistant changing pad and a safety strap to secure your child to the platform.
2. Costzon Baby Changing Table
For nurseries that aren’t very spacious, a changing station that folds up easily after use would be an excellent addition. A good example is the Costzon Baby Changing Table, which touts a foldable design.
Available in black or dark grey, this unit is very sturdy thanks to its non-skid feet. The table’s surface is constructed using a waterproof PVC material, which is completely safe for kids. The rest of it is made of 600D canvas, which contributes to its durability.
If you’re able to set it up permanently without folding it up afterwards, you’ll also get to enjoy the storage compartments it comes with.
3. Delta Children 2-in-1 Diaper Changing Table
If what you’re after is a piece of furniture that your child will be able to use long after they outgrow diapers, this Delta 2-in-1 Diaper Change Table is a superb choice.
Measuring 34.25 by 18.75 by 35 inches, this changing station fits perfectly in small nurseries. The curved design gives it a very sleek appearance. Plus, it offers loads of storage space thanks to its open shelves and large cabinet.
Its highlight, however, is its versatility. Once your child is past the diaper-changing stage, you can easily convert this into a toy organizer, bookshelf, or adult storage chest.
4. ECR4Kids Wall-Mounted Baby Changing Station
If you’re looking to equip your commercial space with a diapering station, the ECR4Kids Wall-Mounted Unit is exactly what you need.
The changing station is suitable for both infants and toddlers up to the age of 3.5. With a maximum weight capacity of 100 lbs, it can accommodate a 50-lb child.
The space-saving design is a key attribute of this station. It can be folded up when it’s not in use, which saves a significant amount of space.
Moreover, it’s constructed using high-density polyethylene plastic for ample strength. Plus, it comes with 2 hooks for moms to hang their diaper bags and built-in paper liner dispensers.
5. EGREE Baby Changing Table
In the event that the diapering station will be used by different people, a changing table with an adjustable height can come in handy. This is precisely what the Egree Changing Table promises: the ability to adjust the height at 4 levels.
Equipped with a skin-friendly Oxford fabric and a steel frame, this changing station is designed for the long haul. In addition, it has a safety strap and 4-side protective fabric plates, offering unmatched security.
Diaper changing tips
Here are a few tricks to make the diapering process as smooth as possible:
1. Preparation is key
Your baby’s changing station should be all set up from the minute you bring them from the hospital.
This means stocking it up with extra diapers, baby wipes, diaper ointment, disposable bags or a diaper pail, and the all-important changing table.
Making sure that the diapering essentials are available and within arm’s reach allows you to focus on your baby.
2. Bring a distraction
If your baby has a stuffed animal that they really like, consider placing it beside them on the changing surface. This gives them something to focus on, which can be incredibly helpful with fussy babies who loathe diaper changes.
Also, it prevents them from wiggling around too much, giving you ample time to figure out how to place the diaper.
3. Be ready on the go
There’s nothing I love more than to travel with my son. The one thing I never look forward to is dealing with diapers. The bulk of items I have to carry, the inconvenience, and the resulting mess can all be a bit much.
If you want to avoid the hassle, ensure that you carry a well-stocked diaper bag. It should contain a changing pad, diapers, diaper cream, and other diapering essentials.
In addition to making sure that you’re well-prepared, having these items on the go serves as a cue to your baby. They can know that it’s time to get their diapers changed even if they’re in an entirely different place.
4. Stay calm
It can happen to the best of us: you remove your baby’s soiled diaper and are getting ready to put on the new one. Then, just as you’re about to fasten the tabs, your baby’s foot lands smack dab in the soiled diaper.
Dealing with a fussy baby while still trying to make out which tabs go where can be pretty intimidating at times.
It’s during those moments that you need to exercise patience. Remaining calm and deliberate helps your baby to be at ease, too.
Why do babies hate diaper changes?
I’ll be the first to admit that changing the diapers of a baby who has just started learning how to crawl is a nightmare. Initially, diapering was a serene time where I got to bond with my son. Ever since he started crawling, though, diaper changes have turned into a battle. Instead of staying still, he will roll over and immediately begin to run off.
If your baby hates diaper changes, you’re not alone. So, why do they suddenly behave this way?
- Cold: Often, the main reason why a newborn hates diaper change is because of the cold they’re exposed to during the process.
- Hunger: If you haven’t fed your baby, they may express their frustration by resisting a diaper change. Try diapering after feedings instead.
- It’s restrictive: The act of laying your baby down prevents them from exercising their recently-discovered skills (sitting up, rolling, or crawling), hence the resistance.
- Want to be in control: As your munchkin grows older, they’ll want to be in charge more. Thus, they won’t be very understanding when you suggest a diaper change while they’re in the middle of their play.
- Discomfort and pain: If your baby has a diaper rash, this could be the reason for all the squirming and screaming during changes. Inspect their skin to see if they have an underlying condition.
What to do if my baby hates diaper changes
What can you do if your baby cries at every diaper change? Here are a few things that have worked for me when dealing with diaper power struggles:
- Being ready: Have all the diapering paraphernalia you need from the get-go. Don’t start searching high and low for supplies in the middle of the changing session.
- Providing a source of entertainment: Your baby will be easily distracted by something amusing. Look for a special toy that they can play with during changes, introduce a countdown so that they know when it’s about to be over, or play tunes that they like.
- Switching locations: For some babies, a change of scenery is all they need to be cooperative. Try changing them in your bed or the living room floor and see how they respond. Just ensure that you don’t leave them unattended even for a minute.
- Getting it done fast: If distractions and switching locales don’t work, you will have to learn the 30-second change. Don’t linger when wiping that little bottom and be quick when slathering that diaper cream. What’s important is that you fasten the tabs properly so the diaper remains secure.
- Dab at skin rash: If their discomfort is brought about by a skin rash, be gentle when cleaning around that area. Use scent-free wipes to avoid skin irritation and when cleaning, dab instead of wipe.
Diapering a baby may seem daunting at first. With all the decisions you have to make—which diapers to buy, when to change your baby, and how to go about it—the whole process can feel overwhelming.
It should not, though. Changing your baby’s diaper isn’t difficult once you learn the basics. In no time, you’ll have gotten the hang of it.