Diapering Your Baby

Diapering Your Baby

New parents spend a lot of time changing their baby. Indeed, babies may use 10 diapers a day or more.

Diaper changing might seem complicated at first. But with a little practice, you'll find that keeping your baby high and dry is easy.

Getting Ready

Before you begin, gather a few supplies:

Make sure your supplies are all within reach. Babies should never be left unattended, even for a second. Even newborns can surprise parents with their ability to roll.


Using the wet washcloth, cotton balls, or baby wipes, gently wipe your baby clean from the front to the back (never wipe from back to front, especially on girls, or you could spread the bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections). You might want to lift your baby's legs by the ankles to get a better reach. Don't forget the creases in the thighs and buttocks.

For boys, keep a clean diaper over the penis during changing because exposure to air often causes boys to urinate — on you, the walls, or anything else within range.

Once you've finished wiping, pat your baby dry with a clean washcloth and apply diaper ointment.

Disposable Diapers

If you're using disposable diapers:

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind:

Cloth Diapers

Although most parents choose disposable diapers because of their convenience, some parents opt for cloth diapers, which can be more affordable (if you wash them yourself). Some believe that cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly, but there's some debate over whether this is actually true.

Cloth diapers come in many shapes and sizes. Traditional cloth diapers usually come prefolded or in a square and require pinning. More modern types are fitted or contoured like disposable diapers, and come with Velcro closures or snaps. Other cloth-diapering accessories include absorbent liners (some are flushable), diaper doublers for extra protection at night, and diaper covers to help prevent leaks.

If you're using traditional cloth diapers, there are several ways to fasten them. One of the more commonly used ways is the triangular fold:

Another method is the rectangular fold, which is similar to the fold of disposable diapers:

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using cloth diapers:

Preventing Diaper Rash

It's common for babies to have some diaper rash. But if the rash happens often, lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, or is getting worse, it may be time to call your doctor. Also let the doctor know if your child has a fever with the rash or if the rash seems painful, bright red, or has blisters.

To prevent and help heal diaper rash, keep these tips in mind:

Once you have these basics down, you'll be a diapering pro in no time!

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: October 2013

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
Web SiteZero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.
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