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Baby Clinic

Baby Care

Changing your baby’s nappy

Although changing a nappy is rarely a pleasurable experience, it’s really not as awful as sitcoms would have you believe.

This is especially true in the early months when your baby is only drinking milk and most nappies are wet, with the occasional runny, mustard-coloured poo, but nothing truly stinky.

Your baby’s first nappy

After the birth, when your baby is being dressed for the first time, your midwife might offer to put the first nappy on or show your partner how to do it. Even if you plan to use reusable nappies, it’s worth buying a small pack of disposable nappies at first. This is for convenience at hospital and also because your baby’s first bowel movement will produce a black, sticky mess as your baby’s system clears out the remnants of meconium. This is perfectly normal no matter how unpleasant it might look.

Changing your baby’s nappy

If you opt for reusable nappies, these come in a handful of different systems that enable you to wash just the inside liner and or the whole nappy. Depending on which you buy you will need to follow the usually very simple instructions that should come with your Starter Kit.

If you buy disposable or biodegradable nappies, select the right size for your baby. Newborn ones are self-explanatory, and beyond this, your baby’s weight will help guide you to the right packs.

In either case, change your baby’s nappy when it smells or feels heavy, and during the day change it every two or three hours or so even if it is not noticeably ready for a change. At night, try to avoid changing your baby’s nappy unless it is very full or your baby has done a poo.

  • Find somewhere safe to lay down your changing mat. If your post-birth body will allow it, the floor is probably safer than a table where there is a danger your child could roll off. Or you can use your bed if there is room to place the mat away from the edges.
  • Before setting your baby down, make sure you have a clean nappy, a muslin cloth, a small bowl of warm water and some cotton wool to hand. You might also need a change of baby clothes in case your baby urinates while you are mid-change.
  • Lay your baby down and gently undo his sleepsuit or trousers. Lift up all your baby’s clothes so they are out of the way of where you are going to wipe.
  • Remove the nappy your baby is wearing and fold it in on itself, using the sticky tabs to seal it up for disposal.
  • Wipe your baby’s bottom clean. In the early months, even poo can be cleaned easily away with just warm water on cotton wool, but if you want to use baby wipes, try to opt for ones that will be gentle on new skin. Pat your baby’s bottom dry. You will find that muslin cloths are useful for this because cotton wool tends to leave clumps of fluff everywhere. Choose coloured muslin cloths so you can have one colour for bottoms and one for the ‘top half’ when your baby brings up some of his milk and it needs to be wiped away.
  • Open out the new nappy – most are designed so it is clear to see that the front is slightly smaller than the back half – and place your baby’s bottom right in the middle of the back half, then pull the front part under your baby’s bottom and seal by bringing the sticky tabs on each side together on the front of the nappy. You don’t want the nappy to be too loose, but do not squeeze the tabs too tight otherwise your baby will be in pain.

Happy nappy time

It’s a good idea to sing little rhymes or to have a small toy for your child to play with to keep them amused while you change their nappy. At first your baby might just cry at changing time, but older babies tend to wriggle so getting your distraction techniques sorted now will pay off later.

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