Babysitting can be rewarding and fun. But, like any job, it has its less-than-enjoyable moments — like diaper changes. But if you're looking after babies and toddlers, diaper changing is a skill you need to know.
A baby can go through as many as 10 diapers a day. So how do you know when it's time for a change? Don't rely only on your nose. Pull the diaper open at the waistband and check that all's clean and dry. Wet diapers might feel heavy, and you'll probably be able to smell the urine when you pull open the front of the diaper. Poopy diapers will be obvious!
Check a baby or toddler's diaper both before and after naptime and after feedings. Always change the diaper if it's wet. Babies can get uncomfortable (and fussy!) if a diaper is wet.
Make sure these supplies are within reach before you set baby down for his or her change:
Place the baby on the changing table or on the floor. If you use a changing table, buckle the strap to hold the baby securely. Many babysitters have discovered the hard way that a baby can wiggle or roll off a table in seconds. That's a big fall for a baby. So keep the little one strapped in. And don't leave a baby alone to go get something, even if the baby is safely strapped in or lying on the floor.
After you remove the dirty diaper, gently wipe the baby from front to back with the washcloth or wipes. Never wipe from back to front, especially if the baby's a girl, as this can spread bacteria. You may want to lift the baby's legs by the ankles to get a better reach. Don't forget to wipe the creases in the thighs and buttocks.
Once you've finished wiping, pat the baby dry with a clean washcloth. Making sure a baby is dry before you put on a clean diaper helps prevent diaper rash. Smear on a light layer of diaper cream if the baby has diaper rash or the parents have asked you to use it.
Most families these days use disposable diapers. (If the family uses cloth diapers, ask the parents to take you through their diapering routine.) Most brands of disposable diapers work the same way:
Once you get the hang of it, diapering a baby will get easier and faster until it's just part of the normal routine!
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: March 2013
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