A week ago, you may have hemmed and hawed over disposables versus cloth, listening to both sides, and maybe even firmly deciding on how you would diaper your baby. If you’ve decided that cloth is the way to go (we’ll cover both options in the coming weeks), that’s a highly respectable choice — but don’t be discouraged if it seems impossible right now. Your child will never again soil him or herself as often as in the first few weeks (we hope), and believe it or not the amount of bowel movements will eventually dwindle down to one or two times a day, sometimes even less than that. So don’t be hard on yourself if you pick up a package of Pampers, especially if it’s the ones that change color when soiled — helpful for those diaper counts. Think of it this way: You’re saving water on all the showers you’re skipping, so your environmental impact kind of evens out.
Or maybe it wasn’t until that little person was crying in front of you, waiting for the first tar-like sticky meconium-filled diaper (which is normal) to be changed, that you realized you have absolutely no clue how to change one. Here’s a general how-to:
- Get your baby-changing station all set up with everything you need: a clean diaper, wipes and ointment if needed. You might also want to have a toy for distraction.
- Always — always — keep one hand on the baby and, if using a changing table, make sure it’s secure.
- Unfasten, but don’t completely remove the diaper. For boys, make sure you have a clean washcloth or something handy to cover the penis, as they will test even the fastest reflexes. And don’t be surprised if you — or the walls — get shot with urine every now and then. It happens.
- Carefully lift the baby’s behind upward by grasping his or her ankles with one hand, and fold the diaper clean side up under your baby.
- For a girl, wipe front to back to prevent a vaginal infection. For boys, adhere to circumcision instructions if needed and gently position the penis facing downward to help prevent urine from shooting up and over the front of the diaper.
- Apply diaper rash cream if the skin is red or peeling.
- Lift the baby up again and position a clean diaper under him or her. If you don’t have specifically designed newborn diapers that accommodate the umbilical cord, fold the front down to leave the stump uncovered.
- Securely fasten the diaper.
And remember, your baby’s poops will start out black and tar-like, then transition to grainy yellow or brown by day three or four. For more on what to look for from poops, see Baby’s Health and Well-Being: Bowel Movements.