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How to change a nappy

Having a baby means lots of new challenges and experiences. One of these is changing their nappy. As a new parent, this can be a daunting thing to think about but as soon as you’ve done it once, it will become much easier. When your baby is a new-born, it may need changing up to 12 times a day. You won’t need to worry about not getting enough practice!

There are two options when it comes to nappies, you can either choose disposable or reusable. This choice comes down to your personal preference as well as your baby’s needs. Some babies may be more comfortable in reusable nappies as they are softer.

In this blog, we will tell you how to change both a disposable and reusable nappy. Whilst the process is similar, there are differences when it comes to disposing and washing the different types. 

Changing a disposable nappy for your baby

First up is the disposable choice, these are chosen by parents as they’re easy to change and get rid of when they are no longer needed. As they can be found in every supermarket, disposable nappies are the more popular choice. However, there has been criticism as to how much waste they cause. 

Although the process of a baby being changed might look simple, there are many things to do and consider in order to protect your little one and keep them clean. 

how to change a nappy

1.    Preparing to change a disposable nappy for your baby

Before you do anything, you should make sure your hands are clean. The last thing you want is your baby getting sick from any harmful bacteria. If you’re out and about and can’t get to a sink, carry a bottle of hand sanitiser to use before changes. This also applies to the surface that you change your baby on. If you’re out, you may be able to find a baby changing station but it’s also handy to carry a fold away changing mat with you. Make sure the table or mat is wiped down before you lay your baby down. 

Changing your baby’s nappy on a high surface means that you have to keep an eye on your baby at all times. Whilst you lean down to get their new nappy, make sure you have one hand on their body at all times to ensure they don’t roll off. Some tables come with straps that secure your baby whilst you change their nappy. This is a great way to keep your baby safe during the process.

It’s important to have everything in reaching distance before you start changing your baby’s nappy. This means that you won’t have to leave them on their own at all during the process. Things that you’ll need close by include:

  • A new nappy
  • Baby wipes or whatever you prefer to clean your baby
  • A cream to prevent nappy rash
  • A bag to put the dirty nappy into after you’re finished

Some parents also choose to have a separate nappy bin but there’s nothing wrong with putting dirty nappies in a normal bin outside – just make sure they are in a tied bag.

To prevent nappy rash, you may also want to keep a soft cloth to dry your baby after they have been wiped. This gets rid of any moisture that could turn into an irritating rash for your little one. 

how to change a nappy

2.    Removing the dirty disposable nappy

When you have everything prepared and ready to go, you can then focus on changing your little one. Firstly, lay your baby on their back and unfasten the tabs on their nappy – but don’t take the nappy completely off yet.

Pull down the front half of the nappy to see what they have done. If your little one is a boy, you may want to cover their genitals with a cloth to prevent them weeing on you! This won’t be a problem if you have a girl.

If you can see that your baby has done a poo, instead of going straight for the wipes, use the front half of the nappy to wipe the worst of it. This will be less messy and will allow you to clean them quicker.

Raise your baby’s bum off of the changing table/mat by carefully lifting both ankles. You can then fold the nappy under their bottom to make sure they stay completely clean. This also helps your changing table/mat stay cleaner during the process. 

Clean the rest of the mess as well as your baby’s genitals with a baby wipe or whatever you prefer to use. You should wipe from front to back to prevent any infection, especially in girls. Put any used wipes into the same bag as the dirty nappy. 

Using a fresh wipe, clean your baby’s bottom to get rid of any mess or even if they have only done a wee. As well as their bottom, make sure you wipe over their legs and thighs to get rid of any bacteria. 

You can choose to either leave your baby’s bottom to air dry at this point or use a soft, dry cloth. Whatever you choose, you should make sure the area is dry before the next step as this is how nappy rash is caused. Once you are confident that the area is dry, apply a thin layer of nappy rash cream to their bottom. The layer of cream should be thin enough that you can still see their skin underneath it. If it is completely white, you have put too much on.

Tie up the bag with the dirty nappy in and throw it into a nappy bin or a bin outside when you are completely finished.

how to change a nappy

3.    Putting a new nappy on your baby

Unfold the clean nappy and slide in underneath your little one’s bottom. The back of your baby’s nappy is the part that will have sticky tabs, make sure these are on the underneath side of your baby. Pull the front half of the nappy over your baby’s tummy.

If your baby is a new-born, don’t cover their umbilical cord stump with the nappy. This can cause irritation. If this is a problem for you, there are nappies you can buy specifically made for new-borns that still have their stump. Alternatively, you can fold down the waistband of the nappy.

The middle part of your baby’s nappy between their legs needs to be fully stretched out. If it is all bunched up, this can cause chafing on the inner thighs and will make them uncomfortable.

Fasten the tabs on either side of the nappy and make sure it is secure on your baby. There you have it, they’re all clean and changed!

The process may look long, but when you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing. 

Changing a reusable nappy for your baby

The process of changing your baby doesn’t change when you use a reusable nappy. You can still follow the steps above. However, there are other things that you need to think about when you choose to use reusable nappies. 

Types of reusable baby nappies

Whether you’re switching from disposable or going straight to reusable nappies, it can be hard to know what type to get for your little one. You also don’t have to stick to just one type – if you feel like mixing and matching, that’s completely fine. Reusable nappies have 4 categories. These are:

  • All-in-one reusable nappies – these have both an absorbent layer as well as a waterproof layer all sewn together.
  • Pocket nappies (inserts) – instead of being altogether, these nappies have a section where you insert the waterproof layer. Some of these come with the inserts but you may have to buy them separately with others.
  • Elasticated nappies – shaped nappies are made to fit your little one properly and come elasticated around the waist and legs. To fasten them, Velcro is usually used.
  • Flat/pre-folded nappies – Flat nappies take a little more work to get on but can be super easy to clean and store. Pre-folded nappies are already folded for you – making them much easier to put on. These can be paired with a waterproof wrap.

What nappy style you choose is completely up to you. Find the one that easiest for you and your baby to save you time. 

how to change a nappy

Washing cloth baby nappies

One thing you definitely don’t have to do with disposable nappies is wash them. However, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Before you wash any reusable nappy, check the label to see what you can and can’t do. Our washing process is designed for most nappies. Our 3 simple steps/tips are:

  1. Wash nappies of a normal cycle. We recommend a temperature of 60 degrees to ensure all bacteria is killed and it is safe for your baby. 
  2. Try to not overload the washing machine when washing nappies. Firstly, they won’t clean as well but they will also start to lose their soft touch material.
  3. When you take them out, they should look and smells fresh. If they still smell faintly, you should rewash them. Smells can mean that the bacteria have not been fully killed. This can lead to irritation or illnesses.

You should try to wash your nappies in a separate wash away from your other stuff. This is because you’re more likely to have clean nappies the first time around if you do them on their own. Stuffing the machine with other items can overload it and mean that your nappies do not get cleaned properly.

You can get nappy buckets which you can use to store dirty nappies in until they can be washed. However, if there are only 2 or three that you need to wash, you could get away with putting them with other washing – just not too much. 

Before you put nappies in the washing machine, it’s your decision as to if you soak them or not. Some parents prefer to do this because it pre-washes them and ensures the main mess is gone. However, it’s completely fine to put nappies straight into the wash. Just put any stools down the toilet.

We hope that we’ve given you some help on how to change and dispose of nappies. If you still have questions, you can head over to our full nappy guide to find out more – Questions about your baby’s nappy.

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