Newborn care

How do I change a diaper?

Changing a diaper will be the first parenting skill you master. But at first it can seem scary—your newborn is so tiny and squirmy. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to change a diaper.

By Today's Parent
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

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

2. Holding the baby’s ankles up in one hand, open the diaper, and if baby has soiled it, use a wipe to clean the bulk of the bowel movement into the diaper. Roll it up and reseal to contain the mess.

3. Wash your baby’s bottom with mild soap and a wet cloth or a no-alcohol wipe, and rinse thoroughly. (If your baby is just wet, rinse area with a wet cloth.)

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

5. Pat your baby’s bottom with a dry washcloth or tissue. Make sure the skin is completely dry, even in the creases.

6. Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment, if baby is prone to diaper rash.


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

8.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.

A version of this article appeared in our April 2015 issue with the headline, “Your top 10 most googled parenting questions,” p.67

This article was originally published on Apr 15, 2016

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