Changing your new baby's nappy

As a first time parent, the prospect of changing a nappy can be pretty daunting if you’ve never done it before. The good news is you aren’t alone—most first-time parents don’t have a clue what to do either, so our midwives have put together a straightforward ‘how-to’ guide which should help. 

Step one

Place everything you need within easy reach so that you don’t need to leave your baby unattended at any time during the nappy change. Make sure the nappy is the correct size for your baby, as you are less likely to experience messy leaks if the nappy fits appropriately. The packaging usually includes a guide about the correct size for your baby’s weight. Use a clean, flat surface to change your baby on. The floor can work just as well as a change table, but make sure your baby is lying on a changing pad or towel that is easily washable to keeps germs at bay. 

Step two

Open the nappy currently on your baby. Use the nappy to try and wipe up as much of the mess up as possible (from front to back), and then use wipes to clean up any leftover mess. Wipe between all the creases and rolls of your baby’s skin to ensure that you’re cleaning their bottom thoroughly—clean skin is less likely to develop nappy rash. 

For girls

With more creases than boys, girls can be a bit more of a challenge to keep tidy. Wipe from front to back as wiping in the other direction could cause painful urinary tract infections. Make sure to leave any protective mucous in the vagina. Baby girls can also have a small loss of blood from the vagina in the first week, like a small period. This usually lasts a few days only and there is a very small amount of blood.

For boys

It is handy to know that when you remove a nappy from a baby boy and air hits his bottom, he’s likely to pee in your direction, so be prepared to catch it with his nappy. Clean all around the folds of skin of the penis and scrotum, but leave the foreskin in place. If the foreskin is pulled back too early, scarring of the head of the penis may occur. The foreskin may take many years to roll down naturally. Wipe from front to back, wiping away any bowel motion or urine from their skin.

Step three

Completely unfold the new, clean nappy ensuring the leak guards’ fold in towards the centre of the nappy. While holding your baby’s legs in the air with one hand, place the nappy under your baby making sure the resealable tabs are positioned at the back.

Step four

Bring the front of the nappy up between your baby’s legs and flatten it across their tummy. Undo the resealable tabs on the back of the nappy and fasten them on to the front panel so the nappy is snug, but not too tight. 

Step five

Run your fingers around the inside of the leg cuffs to ensure that they are not caught inside the nappy. This is important as over the years our Mater midwives have noticed that if the leg cuffs are tucked inside the nappy, this can lead to leaks. If you need to adjust the fit of the nappy loosen and refasten the tabs.

Step six

Do not flush nappies down the toilet. Empty the contents of soiled nappy into the toilet. Roll the nappy into a ball with the waterproof backing on the outside and seal tightly with the tabs. Dispose of nappy thoughtfully into the waste bin. 

Step seven

Pick baby up and make sure the nappy is fitting comfortably (if it seems a bit loose, you may need to tighten the resealable tabs), and then congratulate yourself—you just changed a nappy!


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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