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Tips for Diapering a Newborn Baby

August 8, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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newborn baby getting a diaper change


Most newborns need their diapers changed 10 to 15 times a day!

Since you'll spend a lot of time changing diapers, make it a special time for talking, laughing and playing with your baby.

Here are some more tips for diapering your newborn:

  • Wash your hands before and after each change.
  • Put your baby on a flat, safe surface, such as a change table with side rails or on the floor. 
  • Keep one hand on your baby at all times. Never leave baby unattended on a change table, even for a second!
  • Babies move around, so keep creams, pins, etc. out of reach. Give your baby a toy to play with during diaper changes.
  • Wipe the diaper area with a warm, wet washcloth or a non perfumed diaper wipe. Pat the area dry or allow it to air dry.
  • Do not use powder or cornstarch. A puff of powder near the face or nostrils can cause choking and breathing difficulties. 

Let Baby Sleep - Babies will often sleep through diaper changes. Don’t bother waking your baby to change a diaper.

Diapering a baby girl varies slightly from diapering a baby boy. Here’s how:

When diapering and cleaning a baby girl:

  • Always wipe from front to back to prevent germs from her bowel movements getting into the urinary tract. 
  • Gently clean between the outer folds of the labia. There is no need to clean inside the vagina.

When diapering and cleaning a baby boy:

  • Do not pull the foreskin back when cleaning the penis. Wash the area well and clean from front to back. 
  • Before securing the diaper, ensure baby’s penis is pointing down to avoid pee streaming up the front of the diaper.


Diaper rash is a red and painful rash on the diaper area. Rashes can be caused by:

  • Irritation from dampness caused by urine or stool on the skin.
  • Allergic reaction to soaps, perfumes, or oils that touch the skin.
  • Yeast infection spread from the mouth or from stool. A yeast infection can develop after your baby has had a rash for several days.

To reduce diaper rashes:

  • Keep the skin dry by changing diapers as soon as they are wet or soiled.
  • Don’t use soap.
  • Remove the diaper and expose the rashy area to the air for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day. You can lay your baby on an absorbent towel for some play at this time.
  • When the diaper area is clean and dry, rub on a thin layer of petroleum jelly, or zinc based cream.
  • Avoid using airtight plastic pants over the diaper. 
  • Try switching to cloth diapers if you are using disposables and find the rash is getting worse. 

If you have followed these suggestions and the rash lasts longer than five days, has blisters, pus, peeling areas or crusty patches, or is mainly in the skin creases, call your healthcare provider.

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Diaper Rash

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