You will change your baby’s nappy thousands of times — the key is having everything you need at hand.
Get everything you need in one place before you start. The best place to change a nappy is on a changing mat or towel on the floor, particularly if you have more than one baby. That way, if you need to see to another child for a moment, the baby can’t fall.
Sit down so that you don’t hurt your back. If you’re using a changing table, keep an eye on your baby at all times. Don’t walk away or turn your back, even for a few seconds. Babies falling off change tables when parents are searching for nappies or wipes in bags and other places is a common way for babies to be injured.
Always have a good supply of nappies. If you’re using cloth nappies it might take a while to get used to how they fold and fit. Pre-wash them to make them softer. Take care to choose the right size of nappy and cover for your baby’s weight.
You’ll need a supply of either cotton wool and warm water, or baby wipes. It’s also a good idea to have a spare set of clothes handy, especially in the first few weeks.
If your baby’s nappy is dirty, use the nappy to clean off most of the poo from your baby’s bottom. Then use the cotton wool and warm water to remove the rest and get your baby really clean. Nappy wipes can irritate a newborn baby’s skin, so should only be used on healthy looking skin.
Girls should be cleaned from front to back to avoid getting germs into the vagina or the bladder via the urethra. Boys should be cleaned around the testicles (balls) and penis, but there’s no need to pull back the foreskin. It’s just as important to clean carefully when you’re changing a wet nappy. Put on some nappy or barrier cream to help prevent nappy rash. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or early childhood nurse which brand(s) they would recommend. Talcum powder isn’t recommended.
If you’re using cloth nappies, put in a nappy liner then fasten the nappy around your baby. Adjust it to fit snugly round the waist and legs. If you’re using disposable nappies, take care not to get water or cream on the sticky tabs as they won’t stick if you do.
Once you’ve changed the nappy and dressed your baby, put them in a bouncer or cot or let them play on a clean blanket on the floor. Then get rid of the dirty nappy and wash your hands.
How to change nappies - video
Video provided by Raising Children Network.
Put as much of the contents as you can down the toilet. If you’re using nappies with disposable liners, the liner can be flushed away, but it’s best to only flush liners that are soiled with poo. Don’t flush the nappy as it can block the toilet.
Disposable nappies can be rolled up and resealed, using the tabs. Put them in a plastic bag kept only for nappies, then tie it up and put it in an outside bin. Washable cloth nappies can be machine washed at 60°C, or you could use a local nappy laundry service.
To avoid infection, wash your hands after changing a nappy and before doing anything else.
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Last reviewed: December 2020