How to Change a Diaper
There was a time when it was considered acceptable to pass a screaming baby with a dirty diaper back to the mother, and with a scrunched up look on your face proclaim “Stinky!”. Those days are over. It is now a Father’s responsibility to take on as many of the childcare duties as possible.
Changing a diaper is actually very easy, and only takes a couple of minutes. Modern disposable diapers are really quite advanced. They are constructed of sophisticated materials that do an excellent job of providing leak resistance and of wicking moisture up and away from the baby’s skin. It is basically a remove and replace type of job.
You can identify a diaper that needs to be changed in a few different ways. If the diaper is full of feces (or ‘loaded’ as I like to call it), there will almost certainly be an unmistakable odor. It’s best to get to these diapers quickly; the longer you wait, the harder it will be to clean up. If the diaper is only wet, the diaper tends to swell up, and sometimes you can smell urine. Often the baby will also cry, fuss, or squirm around more than usual.
Step #1 – Assume the Position
Lay the baby on a solid surface that he isn’t going to roll off of or push off of. A blanket on a floor works well, but if you have a dedicated changing surface that’s the best. No matter what you are using, make sure to cover it with either a change pad or a blanket. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it makes the surface warmer and more comfortable for the child. Second, sometimes there will be ‘secondary toilet events’, such as a fart that sends feces flying through the air, or spontaneous peeing when a baby boy’s nakedness is exposed to cool air. The blanket can be lifted and laundered to contain the mess, and will also protect the flooring and/or furniture.
Make sure you have any needed supplies ready before you begin. At a minimum, you will need diapers and baby wipes. If there are any rashes to contend with you will need diaper cream.
*It is very important to keep one hand on the child at all times. No exceptions. A baby does not understand that he or she is far above the ground, or that a fall could hurt him very badly. Even the smallest babies have a lot of strength, and can kick, roll, or shove with a surprising amount of speed and force. Keep your attention focused on the baby 110%*
Step #2 – Unwrap the Present
Undress the bottom half of the baby to expose the diaper.
Loosen the sticky tabs at the sides of the diaper. With one hand, grab both feet and gently lift them up. With the second hand, grab the front of the diaper and pull it back to see exactly what you are dealing with. If the diaper is pee only, remove it completely, set it aside, and slide a new diaper under the baby’s bottom. If there is a ‘poopy’ present there are some additional steps. None of them are what I would describe as pleasant. When lifting the front flap of the diaper away from the baby, you can actually begin to clean up the mess by wiping with the inside of the diaper, and then tucking the flap under the baby’s bottom, so that he is laying on it. This keeps the pad clean while you move on to the next step.
Step #3 – Cleanup
For a wet diaper, this is pretty easy. Simply do a quick wipe down of the area with a baby wipe and you are finished. For a ‘poopy’ diaper, the cleanup is similar, but more labor intensive. Wipe from the front to the back, keeping feces away from the genitals. There is a little divot above the baby’s bum that also tends to collect feces, make sure to clean it out well. Also try to get into all of the little crevices and folds in the baby’s skin, as these areas will collect feces and unclean spots will causes rashes. Basically, the cleaner you get him now, the fewer problems you will have down the road. It is important to note that while you will have to clean the baby’s genitals, there are two things to pay close attention to; If a baby boy is uncircumcised, do not try to pull back the foreskin. It is still attached, and pulling on it can cause damage. It is also important with a little girl to ensure that you always wipe away from the private parts, not towards them. When you have the whole mess cleaned up, remove the diaper completely, and slide a new diaper underneath.
Step #4 – Seal the Deal
If the baby has any rashes or other skin conditions that require treatment, this is the time to apply creams or lotions. Baby powder is generally not needed, but is used to keep the area dry, so if your baby has a problem with dampness, you may want to apply some. Generally, modern diapers do such a good job of wicking moisture away that it is not a concern. If the baby is a newborn placing a bit of vaseline on the bum can help the cleanup next time go a little smoother (newborn baby poop is very sticky).
Try to position the diaper under the baby so that the sticky flaps are on the backside of the baby and above the thigh. Next, bring the front of the diaper up and over the genitals, laying the front of the diaper flat on the baby’s abdomen. Grab the sticky tabs and attach. The diaper should be snug, but not tight. You should be able to slide a finger under the band, but not see under the diaper. If the baby is a boy, take extra care to ensure you haven’t got anything pinched under the elastics.
Step #5 – Cleanup
If you had to remove any of the baby’s clothing, redress him. Move the baby to a safe place such as a crib or basinette where you can leave him unattended for a moment.
* I cannot stress enough how squirmy and strong a baby can be. Do not take your attention off of him if there is even the slightest chance that he can fall or roll off the edge of a table. If you do not have a basinette, crib, playard or other safe place to put the baby, clean up while holding the baby *
Roll the old diaper up, and using the sticky tabs seal it up into a ball. Dispose of the diaper and all dirty wipes. Don’t forget to wash your hands when finished.
Congratulations! You have faced the dreaded diaper, and won. Way to go Dad!