A Change is Gonna Come

Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars.

– Ben Stein

It’s 4 a.m., and I’m hovering over our new collapsible changing table, which we purchased after nearly breaking our backs changing Baby J on the couch or floor after a friend told us not to bother with a changing table. It’s the middle of winter, so even though there’s tons of hormones still pumping through my veins I’m bundled to the max according to California standards. Though I’ve just awoken to a crying baby who is hungry I smell something already brewing in his tiny newborn diaper. (Fortunately at this age diapers aren’t that stinky.) The last diaper I can remember changing before Baby J came along was at least 25 years ago, so I was by all standards an amateur. Completely unprepared I rip open the piping-hot-mess of a diaper, scramble for the wipes, and peeled back the front panel. I tugged at the wipes to get one instead of ten at a time out of the package, but just as I successfully retrieved one, a steady stream of, what my husband and I would later dub “Panang curry” for its color, came spraying out at me, down my blue pajama pants, splattering on the floor, and ricocheting onto the new shark-shaped rug. Even the curtains sustained injuries.

Needless to say this early diaper changing experience was the beginning of my diaper changing 101 lessons from other moms and medical professionals. A visitor reminded us to pull out the gathered fibers along the edge of disposable diapers. The pediatrician told us to point the penis down before closing the diaper. The lessons were endless, and we’re still learning. In fact, I got sprayed with urine just three hours ago.

Below is my comprehensive A-Z list of diapering tips to help prevent you from falling victim to the “Panang curry” volcano.

  1. Provide entertainment. We hung a musical, light-up stuffed octopus above the changing table to keep baby peaceful during diapering.
  2. Preparation is everything. Pull out a diaper changing pad or chucks pad, at least four wet baby wipes, one dry wipe, a clean postpartum perineal bottle filled with luke warm water, and a clean diaper (two if you are brand new to diaper changing).
  3. Place your diaper changing pad or chucks pad on a clean, safe surface.
  4. Place baby on the changing pad or chucks pad with baby’s feet closest to you. Once your baby is older, you might have to get much more creative than this as baby will want to crawl away from you and possibly attempt to dive to the floor.
  5. Unclothe baby as much as you feel necessary for your skill level. I recommend footie pajamas that unzip from the bottom and/or a zip up or velcro flap swaddle that makes minimal noise to access diaper. (If the clothing is soiled, be careful to not get the soiled part of the clothing on your baby’s face. You can actually take a one-piece bodysuit/”Onesie” off by pulling the neck of it open to remove arms and pushing it down and over the feet instead of going up and over the head.)
  6. Tuck the new diaper under the old diaper. Lift your baby’s bottom and push the back of the diaper underneath as if you are putting the clean diaper on over the old.
  7. Open the front of the soiled diaper just slightly to let some air in. Close it back up momentarily and open again. This is to allow time for baby to urinate if the cool air gives them the urge to do so.
  8. As you reopen the soiled diaper use the front panel to wipe down the front of baby toward their bottom. Fold the diaper under baby so that their bottom is resting on the clean outside front panel of the soiled diaper.
  9. Use your wet wipes to wipe baby’s bottom, making sure that they do not touch their soiled bottom or genitals with their hands. Be sure to wipe in all creases. If the diaper only contains urine there is no need to use wipes unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise.
  10. Remove the soiled diaper, rolling it into itself and enclosing the soiled wipes inside the rolled soiled diaper.
  11. Because babies can have especially sensitive skin use your perineal bottle to rinse baby’s bottom. If that seems to messy, wet a dry wipe with water from the perineal bottle and rinse using your dry wipe. After rinsing always be sure to dry your baby’s bottom by gently patting with the dry wipe. Tuck your soiled dry wipes into the rolled soiled diaper. Toss into appropriate receptacle once it is safe to do so without stepping away from baby on the changing table. Again, this step is only necessary if the diaper is poopy.
  12. Now you are ready to rediaper with the new, clean diaper that was under the soiled one this whole time. If baby is male tuck his penis down. Stretch the front panel wide across baby’s belly being sure to avoid the umbilical stump if baby still has one, and close the diaper with the two velcro closures. Run a finger along the leg holes to make sure you’ve pulled out the gathered fibers along the edge. This will help prevent leakage.

If your baby has diaper rash I recommend Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment. Even if your baby only suffers with occasional diaper rash, buy the big jar as it can be used on many baby skin conditions as well as your dry postpartum hands, elbows, etc. Some parents use Aquaphor or diaper cream on their baby’s bottoms all the time to prevent diaper rash. It’s simply not necessary.

I’ve linked many of my other favorite diapering products above.

I’m interested to hear your diapering tips. Please leave a comment or question. Thanks!

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