Baby health

Diaper details

Your baby's tender skin gets a lot of wear and tear in the diaper area! Here's how to keep it clean, dry and comfortable

By Holly Bennett
Diaper details

Diapering basics
You’re probably already a diaper change pro. But here’s a reminder of the basic steps:

• Have all your supplies at hand, including a change of clothing, just in case.

• Open the old diaper, and if baby has soiled, use a tissue to clean the bulk of the bowel movement into the diaper. Roll it up and reseal to contain the mess.

• Wash your baby’s bottom with mild soap and lukewarm water or a no-alcohol wipe and rinse thoroughly. Baby girls should be washed and dried from front to back, to prevent urinary tract infections.

• If your baby is just wet, rinse the area without soap. Too much soap can dry out the skin.

• Slide the new diaper under baby’s bottom, with tabs at the back.

• Pat your baby’s bottom dry. Make sure the skin is completely dry, even in the creases.

• Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment, to provide a protective water-repellent barrier on the skin.

• Fasten the diaper snugly, sticking the back tabs to the front. (Cloth diapers with Velcro tabs work the same way.)

• Rinse dirty cloth diapers in the toilet and store in the diaper pail until wash time. Some communities now provide recycling for disposable diapers — check with your municipality.

Diaper rash prevention
Some babies are extra-sensitive and prone to diaper rash. To help prevent rashes:

• Keep baby as dry as possible by changing frequently. You may need to change her in the middle of the night, even if she is sleeping through.
• Avoid potential irritants like scented soaps and lotions. Perfumes in disposable diapers may also cause a reaction.
• Cloth diapers may retain traces of detergent or ammonia. Try adding a half cup of vinegar to the rinse.
• Plastic diaper covers hold in heat; if you use cloth diapers, try breathable covers.

Diaper rash treatment
Diaper rash often begins as a mild redness. Left untreated, it can become very painful.

• If your baby has a rash, use no soap, only lukewarm watter to wash his bottom and apply a medicated diaper rash ointment once the skin is perfectly dry.
• Exposure to the air helps, so lay your baby on a towel with a bare bottom several times a day.
• If the rash is very red and inflamed, or isn’t responding to your home care, see your doctor. It may be caused by a yeast infection and require special medication.

Diapering Tips
• A change area on every floor of your home will save you a lot of steps. No need for two change tables, though — a contoured change pad on a dresser or a laundry basket stocked with diaper supplies, sleepers and a soft change pad will do the trick.

• Have masking tape handy for refastening disposable diaper tabs that have lost their stick.

• Baby boys are liable to pee as soon as the diaper is removed. Keep an extra cloth diaper or small towel handy to contain the spray.

• Put an unbreakable mirror or simple black and white drawing of a face on the wall beside the change table, or hang a mobile, so your baby will have something interesting to look at while you clean him up.

• As your baby grows, change time is a lovely opportunity for face-to-face play. Take time to sing a song or give your nice clean baby a shower of silly belly kisses.

This article was originally published on Apr 06, 2006

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