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Baby Care Basics

How to diaper your baby.

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Folding a Diaper for the Umbilical Cord

Folding a Diaper for the Umbilical Cord

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Diaper changing is probably the most dreaded of all baby care activities. The truth of the matter is that diapering has gotten much easier as the years have gone by. No matter if you use cloth or disposable diapers, they are easier to use and hold more with fewer leaks than even 10 years ago.

Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers are everywhere. There are many brands to choose from in a variety of costs and features. But the basics of how to get the diaper on the baby is much the same.

  1. Gather your supplies. The first step is to be prepared. Gather up a couple of diapers, wipes, ointments...anything you'd need to change the baby. For safety reasons you don't want to be searching for something with a wiggly baby waiting for you. I also always open a wipe or two and have it unfolded and laid out ready to use.

  2. Lay the baby down. Most people have a specific area to change baby. This can be a changing table or changing pad. If you have a table, be sure to use the strap for baby's safety. Never leave baby unattended while changing him or her. Unfasten the old diaper, but don't pull it out from under the baby yet. This allows for some margin of safety in case the cold air inspires baby to let go.

  3. Hold on! Grasp the baby's ankles and gently lift their bottom up and begin to wash their bottom with the wipes. If the area is heavily soiled you can use the front part of the old diaper to remove part of the mess. As you finish with each wipe, gently place in under the baby (clean side up) for easier clean up. When the baby's skin is clean pull the diaper and wipes out from under baby and set it aside.

  4. Fresh & Clean Place the new, clean diaper under baby and secure the fasteners. If your still have a newborn, you might need to fold down the top of the diaper to make room from the umbilical cord. Don't be afraid to pull the diaper on snuggly. If you have it on too loosely... Well, you can imagine the mess that makes!

  5. Clean up! After putting baby's clothes back on, take the old diaper and use the fasteners to make it into a small ball, criss-crossing the fasteners. Place it in the diaper pail or trash. I always keep a container of liquid disinfectant near my changing table to use on my hands. Then I hand the baby off to someone else or lay her down and wash my hands at the sink.

Cloth Diapers

Gone are the days of diaper pins and wiggly babies. Now you only have to contend with wiggly babies! Cloth diapers have become very user friendly. Many are now what we call All in Ones (AIO). This means that they are used just like a disposable diaper. They fasten with Velcro®.

Other cloth diaper are used as disposables, though you may need to fold or use a prefolded diaper followed by a cover that is usually fastened with Velcro® for a waterproof cover. Both varieties can be done at home or with a diaper service if one is available in your area.

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