While it may seem like a basic skill to learn, I’ve been surprised to find that diaper-changing actually does take some technique and practice to master. And by master I mean tackle with confidence even under the worst circumstances, like a blowout on an airplane or all over the shopping cart at Target.
Here are some tips to remember as you begin your diaper-changing career to hopefully help you avoid having to learn some lessons the hard way.
Most diaper bags come with diaper-changing mats, or you can buy them separately. But whatever you do, do not change your baby in public without one. And here’s why. I am embarrassed to admit that I was impatient and changed my 2-year old daughter in public at a movie theater without one when I didn’t want to go to my car to get it. I figured she knew the drill, I could hold her up, and it wouldn’t take long. Oh, how I regret that decision. About a week later she developed a bump in her diaper area that became infected, which we thought was just a bug bite. It tested positive for MRSA, and was extremely serious. I have never felt as guilty as when I realized it was probably from changing her diaper without a mat in public.
This tip has been life-changing for me, and I didn’t learn it until I had my second baby. After you take off your baby’s pants or undo the onesie, lift up their bottoms and spread out the fresh diaper behind them before you open the dirty diaper. Open the dirty diaper and clean as normal, then when you slide it out the fresh diaper will already be in position when you set the baby down. This will save you from having to juggle holding up your baby with one hand while handling the dirty diaper and grabbing the fresh diaper with the other hand. Not to mention if something goes wrong (or should I say when something goes wrong), the fresh diaper is there to catch the mess so you can easily just throw that one away without a huge mess to wipe up.
Get everything laid out and ready before taking off the dirty diaper. ESPECIALLY the wipes. I’ve found that wipes stick together, so when you’re trying to pull them out with your one free hand you’ll actually pull out a continuous rope of wipes and have to do a weird jerky-shake to get one to separate. Lay out the diaper rash ointment, and anything else you’ll need so you’re ready to go.
Speaking of diaper rash ointment, it’s not a bad idea to use it preventatively rather than reactively as much as possible. Applying it even just before bed can help your little one avoid those awful, painful diaper rashes that can happen if they fill their diaper overnight without waking up. Especially if your baby is sick or on medication that can cause them to develop rashed more easily, have some handy and use it to help reduce the chances of a rash forming.
Baby isn’t the only one who can suffer from a blowout. Many parents also become victims when a leaky blowout strikes, and it’s usually out-and-about when it happens. Throw a lightweight shirt and pair of leggings in your diaper bag along with an extra onesie for baby in case a blowout has you both needing a change.
The worst diaper changes always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times or at the worst places - it seems to be a law of nature. Whether you’re going on an airplane or out for a hike in the woods, plan ahead of time for the worst to occur and have a plan just in case.
What tips would you give to new parents about diaper changing?