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Step-by-Step Instructions for a Baby Diaper Change

Updated on May 20, 2011

Diaper changing is one of the least favored chores of parenting, but it is something that must be done. Unfortunately a diaper change is something that is needed most often as well, so it helps to have a near flawless technique. (Note: the following tutorial is for changing a disposable diaper)

Keep in mind that though a diaper change can seem unenjoyable, it can also be used as an important time to bond with your baby. Make eye contact and talk to your baby as you move through the diaper change, perhaps narrating what you are doing or just imitating your baby’s cooing back to him/her.

Before you begin the diaper change, make sure you have everything you need on hand (never walk away from your baby at the changing table!). The things you will need will most likely include:

  • A fresh diaper(have it ready and unfolded)
  • Diaper wipes
  • A change of clothes, if leakage occurs(it’s likely to happen more than once, even with the best diapers)
  • Diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly
  • Entertainment for baby: whether it be a toy or provided by you
  1. Unbutton baby’s onesie, or remove pants to access diaper
  2. Pull the tabs off the diaper and begin to remove. Be extra vigilant as you are taking off the front of the diaper, especially if you have a boy: when their penis is exposed to air it usually triggers the urge to urinate. To avoid getting sprayed, it is best to remove the front of the diaper to expose the penis to air, and then cover it back up for a few moments to contain a possible flow.
  3. Once the diaper is opened, survey the scene. If your baby has pooped, use the inside of the front of the diaper to clean up as much of the mess as you can, and fold it down so the outside of the diaper is facing up
  4. Lift your baby’s legs with one hand, grab a wipe, and wipe up the mess(remember to wipe girls front to back to avoid infection)
  5. Once the mess is clean, remove to dirty diaper and slide the fresh unfolded one underneath your baby, making sure it is up high enough on his behind to cover his/her bottom.
  6. Before fastening the diaper, apply a small amount of diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly to your baby’s bottom as a preventive measure against diaper rash. Also you might consider putting a small amount of ointment on areas frequently rubbed by the diaper to prevent irritation. Be careful not to get ointment on the fastening tabs as this could affect their fastening power.
  7. Bring the front of the diaper up between your baby’s legs and spread it flat on his/her stomach.
  8. Fasten the adhesive tabs, getting them as close together as possible
  9. If the diaper has leg ruffles, be sure these are out against the baby’s legs to create a leak barrier
  10. Ensure the diaper is fastened snug against your baby and covering his/her bottom
  11. Fold up the dirty diaper and wipes and discard
  12. Dress your baby and smile at him/her: you’re done!

Remember to wash your hands, use antibacterial gel, or a baby wipe after every diaper change. If the first couple of changes don’t go smoothly, fear not: there will be plenty of opportunities to practice!


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