How to change your baby’s diaper or nappy

Your newborn baby is going to need about six to eight diaper/nappy changes a day.
Both urine and faeces (wee and pooh) can burn your baby’s skin. Disposable baby diapers/nappies will make your life easier in that they absorb the wetness and keep it away from your baby’s skin, and your baby could therefore, in theory do a few “wee’s” before they had any wetness causing discomfort on their skin. Overnight, for instance,  disposable baby diapers might last about eight hours, whereas with a cotton diaper/nappy – as soon as it is wet – it can start to burn your baby’s skin. Their are now reusable diapers (cloth diapers) which work similarly to disposable baby diapers. “Poohey” nappies need to be removed straight away – they can cause a lot of irritation.

With disposable baby diapers – some manufacturers are creating chlorine free diapers such as Tushies and Seventh Generation which are available from Health Stores.

How to go about it? Keeping your baby’s bottom free of diaper rashes/nappy rash.

Simply place your baby on a clean/safe surface – preferably at a working level that will not cause you to hurt or strain your back. A “Change-Table” is ideal – but don’t rely on the Manufacturer making it totally baby safe.

I always recommend getting all the things you might need, placing them where you can reach them easily, and always keep your body pressed up against the table, so there are no escape routes for a rolling baby.

You will need something to clean the bottom/buttocks, somewhere to put the soiled or dirty items, such as a bucket or bag, something to dry the buttocks, and a clean diaper/nappy.

Start by washing your own hands before handling your newborn baby.

If you want to do it the easy way – your baby should lie on his/her back.

99% of babies feel that having a diaper change is worth a good cry – this is normal.

It is important that you remove all traces of urine and faeces from your baby’s skin – be especially careful of your baby’s skin creases and folds.

Be careful, especially with girl babies, to wipe from the front to the back – this is so that you do not introduce the “Pooh” into the vagina, or near the “urethra”, which leads to the bladder. (Urine infections in new born babies can cause them to become very ill). Always start with a clean piece of cloth or baby wipe – for each wipe.

With a boy baby – be very gentle, but ensure that there is no pooh left under the foreskin (don’t pull back the foreskin).

Soap and warm water are fine – you choose what suits you and your budget.

Make sure all wee and pooh are removed, and that there is no residue of the cleaning agent left on your baby’s bottom.

You need to dry the area before replacing the disposable baby diaper – using something clean – just dab the buttocks gently.
New diaper on, and Bob’s your uncle! Cotton diapers can be fastened in all sorts of fancy manners these days – ask at your Pharmacy or your Health Care Professional.   It is not necessary to use a diaper ointment if baby’s skin is healthy.   However – at the slightest sign of redness – invest in a diaper ointment – which will act as a barrier between the pooh and wee and your baby’s skin.

Make sure your newborn baby is now safe in the cot or crib etc. and then go about disposing of the dirty disposable diapers or cloth diapers/nappies.
It is best for faeces to be flushed down the toilet (not including the diaper!) – this applies to both cotton and disposable baby diapers.

Once you have got rid of the faeces, either place your cotton diaper into a soaking solution (safely out of reach of any young children), or place the disposable baby diaper in a suitable container ready for disposable.
Check with the Manufacturer on how best to dispose of the diaper – so that it has least impact on the environment.

When you have finished – WASH YOUR OWN HANDS, before getting on with the next job.

By the way, nappy buckets don’t just empty themselves – soaking solutions etc need to be changed about every 24 hours. (These caustic cleaning agents themselves have a detrimental effect on the environment – you make your own decision on which way to go)

If your baby’s bottom shows no signs of redness – this is all that is required.

BUTTOCKS/ SKIN AREAS THAT ARE BECOMING RED OR BREAKING DOWN- otherwise called excoriated buttocks.

This type of skin reaction does need diaper rash investigation and appropriate treatment – if only to prevent it getting any worse.   Read the above explanation on how to care for your baby’s bottom/buttocks – to make sure you are cleaning the area properly and often enough.  If you are doing all of the above, further diaper rash investigation may show a yeast diaper rash – sometimes the baby will also have “thrush” in their mouth – it is best to discuss this with your Health Care Professional as you may need a specific treatment for yeast diaper rash.   Diaper rash can also be caused by allergies to certain foods the baby may be receiving and also occurs when baby is teething – which is not likely to happen in the first few months of your baby’s life.

Relieving diaper rash:

Often if the skin is very red, even water is too harsh for your baby’s skin, so do the following:
The best treatment for severe diaper rash is to gently clean your baby’s buttocks, using cotton wool dipped in warmed OLIVE OIL.

Again, make sure all wee and pooh are removed. Gently dab the area dry.

A “barrier cream” or diaper ointment is ideal here.   Diaper yeast rashes are quite common in newborn babies, and it is best treated with an antifungal ointment.   Ask your Pharmacist/Health Care Professional for a suggestion.

Something like “petroleum jelly” – Vaseline does work well, because it is waterproof – but do remember that it is a MINERAL OIL and prolonged use can disturb your baby’s natural mineral balance. There are better natural plant or vegetable alternatives, and you will work out which method and product suit you and your baby.

“Wound Management” has completely changed around the world. The new scientific beliefs are so drastically different from what the Medical Profession believed for years and years – that you might find some resistance to my next statement, which is: MOIST WOUND HEALING WORKS BEST.

Yes, my nursing training was in the dark ages, when a baby with bad nappy-rash was exposed to the “air”.
I was extremely reluctant to give up this belief. However, years of caring and experimenting with sick infants with urinary problems, I am now convinced that Moist Wound Healing works quicker.

If your baby has a problem with excoriated buttocks /severe diaper rash, ask around until you find someone who knows about Moist Wound Healing – and then make up your own mind, as to which way to go.