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How to change the diaper of your newborn baby, step by step

Changing diapers for a newborn baby is one of our first tasks as parents, a task that will last for many months. And, although in the end we are experts in this maneuver, by dint of changing up to ten diapers a day, some tips on how to change the diaper of the newborn are not bad, especially to eliminate the remains of the meconium and take care of the umbilical cord.

The first thing we have to bear in mind is that we have to have all the necessary material to change the diaper ready and at hand. This way we will not leave the baby unattended at any time.

What do we need to change the baby’s diaper?

  • New diaper
  • To clean the diaper area: warm water and cotton (for newborns with sensitive skin) or a clean soft washcloth or damp cleansing wipes.
  • Protective cream or ointment for the baby’s skin. There are many brands, milder to prevent and more concentrated to soothe irritation and diaper rash.
  • If we are not at home or do not have a specific place to place the baby, we will need a cloth or wide cotton gauze that will act as a changing table on any surface . In hospitals they usually provide cellulose gauze. There are folding changing tables that fit perfectly in the baby’s bag and that have at least one waterproof part.

How do we clean the meconium?

Meconium, the baby’s first stools, is thicker and stickier and stains the skin more intensely than subsequent stools, so cleaning will have to be more thorough.

Cotton works quite well to clean these poops, and once most of it is removed, you can moisten the cotton or use a wet wipe to remove the stuck debris that dirties the baby’s skin. The rest of the diaper change process is the same as with subsequent stools.

How do we clean the baby’s stools?

In the usual post-meconium poops, which arrive around the third or fourth day, we will use a soft mitt, cotton dipped in water or, what I think is more comfortable, baby cleaning wipes.

The process to follow is the same: the baby’s private parts are gently cleaned from front to back (never the other way around, especially in girls, to avoid spreading bacteria from the rectum, which can cause urinary tract infections).

Obviously, we place the baby on his back, and it is very useful to lift the child’s legs to better access his private parts (anus and genitals). To do this, we hold their feet with one hand and raise them slightly so that we can remove the diaper comfortably. We put him back on the changing table to clean it (the new diaper may have already been placed underneath, although we run the risk of him relieving himself at that precise moment)

We proceed to clean the area. Do not forget to clean the folds that form between the thighs and buttocks to avoid leaving traces of stool. In girls , we must pay special attention to the remains of poop, which, being so liquid, can remain between the lips or even inside the vagina, areas that must be delicately cleaned.

Without leaving the folds wet (they dry in the air in a moment or we can apply a little toilet paper) we can now apply the protective cream to prevent irritations and dermatitis.

Putting on the new diaper

We raise the baby’s legs again to be able to put on the new diaper. We open the clean diaper and slide it gently under the baby’s body. Boys should hold the penis down so that urine does not leak over the diaper to the navel and waist.

We will soon have learned that the elastics are on the back and are adjusted in front, towards the navel. The elastic straps are very comfortable but they make us run the risk of tightening too much. We will have to leave enough slack so that, if we change the baby’s position, it continues without tightening.

What precautions should be taken with the umbilical cord?

As a newborn, we will have the umbilical cord with the clamp, and we must take special care. Above all, we must ensure that the cord does not get dirty with feces or urine to avoid omphalitis or navel infections. After the fall of the cord, the risk of infection persists until the navel has not completely healed, so the same care and vigilance should be continued until the navel dries.

Although there are special diapers that ensure protection and support for the cord, there is not much difference from normal diapers. Ideally, the string should be well attached and firm, under the diaper, not just at the base of the diaper because it could push the string with the risk of detaching it. A snug (not tight) garment over the diaper helps the cord and clip stay secure.

What if he pees during a diaper change?

As we have discussed, and parents who have already changed diapers will know from their own experience, it is common for babies to pee while we change their diapers. Exposing the genitals to air, or feeling the wipe cleaning them can cause it.

With girls the changing table will be stained, but with boys this fact is more “dangerous”, since they expand their “radius of action”. So with them it is a good idea to cover the penis with a clean diaper while we change the diapers. It is always good to have toilet paper or tissues on hand to proceed with “emergency containment and drying” if the baby urinates during the diaper change.

What diaper to wear?

Finally, we will say that although most of us are inclined towards comfortable disposable diapers, there are those who consider washable or reusable diapers as the best option. It is a less comfortable system but surely more respectful with the environment. Today there are many brands of washable diapers that have nothing to do with the old versions. It is best to choose brands that close with velcro, brackets or buttons to avoid having to use more dangerous safety pins.

Anyway, let’s hope that all these tips to change the diaper for the newborn will be useful to you and will make you experts when it comes to performing this simple maneuver that is so scary at first.

In Babies and More | A campaign driven by a father calls for changing tables for babies in men’s public restrooms

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