Mother changing diaper on her baby on table over blue background
Baby Care

How To Change A Baby’s Diaper: All The Tips You’ll Need

Struggling with diaper duty as a new parent? Here’s everything you need to know about your baby’s diaper and how to clean one.

February 07, 2022

Changing dirty diapers has to be one of the worst parenting duties.

Once you’ve dressed a baby’s bottom, you’ll never want to do it again. Unfortunately, you’ll be repeating the process in a few hours, and you may end up on diaper duty for years.

While the process can be frustrating, it’s made easier by having the right supplies and skills. Here’s everything you need to know about changing a baby’s diaper.

What do you need to change a baby’s diaper?

Make sure you have a designated area for the task at hand. If you’re at home, this will be your changing table. In public restrooms, you can use fold-down changing pads. 

Additional diaper supplies you’ll need:

  • Clean diapers, sized for your baby. 

  • Diaper rash cream.

  • A fresh set of clothes in case of a fecal blowout. 

  • A disposable bag for dirty diapers. 

  • Fasteners for cloth diapers, if applicable.

  • Gentle baby wipes for sensitive skin. You can use warm water and a soft cloth for newborns.

Whether you’re at home or out on the town with your little one, make sure to keep your diaper bag supplies within reach. 

Note: Your baby can’t be left unattended on the changing table.


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How to put a diaper on a baby

Disposable diapers are preferred for easy cleaning, while cloth options are cheaper. The garments are similar, but disposable will save you time cleaning if you’re a busy parent. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best way to change diapers. 

  1. Wash your hands to remove germs.

  2. Gather your supplies next to the changing table.

  3. Pick up your baby and gently lay them on their back against the table.

  4. Remove any clothes that may be in the way.

  5. Unhook the tabs or fasteners on either side of the diaper. Open it up.

  6. Gently grasp your baby’s ankles, lifting their bottom from the soiled surface.

  7. Slide the dirty diaper out from underneath your baby’s body. For a messy bowel movement, use the clean part of the soiled diaper to wipe away the residue.

  8. Place the soiled diaper on the changing table, out of arm’s reach.

  9. If you’re wondering how to wipe babies down, Use baby wipes or a soft cloth with warm water to gently clean around your baby’s legs, front, and bottom. For baby girls, make sure to wipe from front to back to avoid infection. For baby boys, place a clean diaper or warm cloth over their genitals while changing. Exposure to the cold air can make them urinate.

  10. Put the soiled wipes on top of the dirty diaper.

  11. Open up a new diaper. Slide it underneath your baby’s back, using the ankle method to lift their rear.

  12. Place the diaper tabs on either side of your little one’s body.

  13. Apply diaper rash creams to your baby’s diaper area before you fasten the tabs closed. You’ll want to do this while the diaper is beneath your little one to prevent the cream from transferring to the table. 

  14. After the cream is applied, fasten the diaper, pulling the front up between your baby’s legs until the rim of it rests against their stomach. If you have a newborn, fold the diaper top-down so it doesn’t rub against the umbilical stump. 

  15. Grab the tabs on either side of the diaper, gently pulling them around to the front so you can latch the diaper shut. 

  16. Redress your baby, and place them somewhere secure. You don’t want them to fall off the changing table while you clean up.

  17. Roll up the soiled diaper and wipes. Put them in the trash can or diaper pail. 

  18. Clean the changing table.

  19. Wash your hands.

  20. Wash your baby’s hands. 

And that’s it. If you need to stock up on supplies, some of the best diapers for newborns that you can buy include Pampers and Huggies. Both of these brands have hypoallergenic options, too.

How many newborn diapers do I need per day?

As your baby grows older and they’re introduced to solid foods, you’ll notice the frequency of their diaper changes will drop. You need to change your baby on demand, and the rule of thumb is to quickly swap out your baby’s diaper after they’ve had a bowel movement. 

What diaper size you need depends on your baby’s weight, but until they reach about 20lbs, you’ll need anywhere from 8-12 diapers per day

If you leave the poop against your baby’s skin for too long, it can cause irritation or a bladder infection. A dirty behind can also ruin a baby’s clothes if the fecal matter leaks through an ill-fitting diaper onto the fabric itself. 

How often should you change a newborn’s diaper?

On average, you’ll probably need to change newborn diapers every 2-3 hours.


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What are some tips to change a baby’s diaper?

For your baby girl

  • Newborn baby girls typically have vaginal discharge for the first couple of weeks. Let your pediatrician know if the discharge persists past this point or develops an odor. It may be an infection.

For your baby boy

  • Ensure the penis is placed downward before fastening the diaper to prevent urine leaks.

For your baby’s health

  • Your doctor should provide cleaning instructions for umbilical cord stumps and circumcisions. Follow the instructions diligently.

  • Skin that’s dry to the touch, a dry diaper that persists for 24 hours or more, or dark yellow or brown urine are all signs of dehydration. Contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Don’t wrap the baby’s diaper too tight. If you do, it applies pressure to the stomach, which can make your little one vomit or cause red marks, diaper rashes, or friction burns around your baby’s waist and legs.

  • Contact your pediatrician if a diaper rash doesn’t clear up after a few days. It may indicate a more serious health concern, like an allergy to the diaper’s material.

For cleanliness

  • If you use cloth diapers, clean them separately from other clothes in hot water. Use a mild detergent and no fabric softener to prevent skin rashes.

  • You should empty your diaper pail for disposable waste once a day to prevent bacteria growth.

Should I wipe my baby after every diaper change?

You should always clean your baby’s bottom after a bowel movement, but if all they’ve done is urinate, you can skip the diaper wipes. Over-using them can lead to an irritating skin rash, too.


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Should I change a poopy diaper if my baby is sleeping?

It’s probably okay to let your baby sleep with a wet diaper, but the golden rule of “always change a baby’s poopy diaper” still applies. Follow the same diaper changing procedures that you would during the day. 

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