factsheet: changing nappies

No one looks forward to changing that first nappy. It looks so fiddly, never mind messy, you’ll wonder if you’ll ever get the hang of it. Don’t despair – it really is just a question of practice. You will soon be able to change your baby anywhere in double quick time and you’ll even get used to the smell! (you’ll never like it, you’ll just get used to it!)

Here’s our step-by-step guide to changing a disposable.

You will need: –

  • Cotton wool and cooled boiled water OR baby wipes
  • Barrier cream or petroleum jelly
  • Nappy sack or old carrier bag
  • New nappy
  • Changing mat
  • Towel

1) The first rule is don’t panic. The smell of fear is stronger than the smell of poo and your baby will almost certainly get distressed if you are disorganised.

2) Make sure you have everything you need within easy reach. If you dash to the other side of the room for a clean nappy and leave your baby with a bare bum you’re asking for trouble.

3) Lay baby down on the changing mat on a safe surface. Use your changing unit, the bed or preferably the floor.

Never leave baby unattended especially if positioned on a raised surface.

4) Undress your baby from the waist down at least. It’s a good idea to take off the socks too because babies will be able to dip their heels into the dirty nappy when you open it.

5) Undo tabs on the front of the nappy and fold them back into their original position to avoid getting them stuck on your baby’s legs. Many babies, especially boys will wee as soon as the cold air touches their skin so be prepared. It’s a good idea to hold to front of the nappy over them for a few seconds after you’ve opened it just in case.

6) With one hand hold the baby’s feet/ankles together and gently lift the bottom clear of the nappy.

7) With the other hand remove the dirty nappy, cleaning as you go if you can, with any ‘clean’ part of the nappy. Try to clean front to back i.e. away from you, to avoid spreading germs – especially with girls.

8) Put the nappy where the baby cannot reach it!

9) Use wipes/cotton wool to clean any remaining mess remembering to wipe from front to back. Take care to clean all the folds of skin particularly round a boy’s scrotum where mess can get trapped.

10) Let the baby kick it’s legs without the constraints of a nappy. Remember that a baby knows when you are not protected by its nappy. Have a towel ready for those little unexpected surprises!

11) If you use a barrier cream or petroleum jelly, apply it all around your baby’s bottom and genitals.

12) Place a new nappy under baby with the ‘tabs-half’ under his back. Pull front of nappy up between legs and mould gently around the baby’s body.

13) Release the tabs and mould the nappy around the front of the baby. Take care not to pull the nappy too tight. If you are using nappies with ‘sticky tabs’ rather than the ‘Velcro type’ make sure that you do not have any grease/cream/lotion on your fingers. If it gets on the tabs they won’t stick properly. Fasten the tabs securely.

14) Use the tabs on the old nappy to seal it up and put it in a nappy sack or carrier bag ready to throw away. Make sure you dispose of the nappy in a responsible manner – never flush it down the loo.

15) Wash your hands and psyche yourself up for the next one!