The birth of a child is the start of parents’ relationship with the diaper industrial complex, which tends to last between one and three years (which is the nice way of say “three years”). Despite the “intuitive” design of modern diapers, diapering can present a steep learning curve, particularly for first-time parents who struggle with which diapers to buy and how to split, or not split, poop duty. Once the diaper installation has been mastered, a host of diaper-related issues, notably rashes, can increase the level of difficulty. Luckily, there are some simple tips to ease the burden. From how to tell who changes when and how to use a changing table, these 10 essential diapering tips will make the task much easier. At least until diapering is replaced with the equally mystifying hell of potty training.
Negotiate Well Before the First Poop
Nothing can sour the first few months of parenthood like diaper changing resentment. It’s best to negotiate the division of labor well ahead of, well, labor. Some parents simply split their diapering patrol between night and day. Some father’s take on the task anytime they’re home when it happens (which is so getting them laid, someday). And some split the duty between weekdays and weekends. The point is to have this all locked down before the first poop hits the first diaper.
Diaper Size is Only a Guideline
Disposable diaper brands offer a variety of diaper sizes to better fit a child as they grow. However, if parents only follow these guidelines, they are likely to find themselves in deep doodoo. That’s because children’s bodies, like all human bodies, tend to be wildly different from one another.
It’s important to remember that some kids are round and some kids are thin. So some kids might need a larger diaper earlier, or they might stay in the same size longer than expected. The point is that parents will need to experiment a bit until they find the right brand and size.
Diapers should fit a kid’s waist with plenty for the tabs to grip onto. When fastened correctly, parents should be able to fit a finger between the waist and the baby without too much effort. The diapers should also be snug around the legs.
Leg Ruffles are Important
The ruffles around diaper leg holes are not there for looks. They should always be visible on the outside and not tucked inside the diaper around the legs. Their specific engineering magic means that all the gross stuff stays inside the diaper rather than leaking down the legs.
Always Be Prepared
A changing table should be restocked and reorganized on a regular basis. The key to changing a kid without fuss, whether inside the home or out in the wild, is having all the supplies on hand and easily accessible from the get-go. Nothing makes baby-changing more awful than having to stop in the middle to search for wipes.
Use the Changing Table “Seatbelt”
While changing tables ensure that an adult doesn’t have to kneel and stoop to change a kid, it does add risk by elevating the baby to a height that could lead to a disastrous fall. One hand should be kept on the kid at all times if a belt isn’t available. If the belt is available, use it, but remain vigilant.
Develop a Routine and Stick to It
The standard routine generally looks like this: Unsnap onesie. Undo diaper. Wipe excess away using diaper. Clean with wet wipe. Wrap all in diaper and dispose. Apply cream. Install new diaper and reclothe.
There can be variations based on skin care regimen and diaper type. The important part is to develop the routine and do it the same way every time. This will make the task second nature sooner than later.
Clean Girls Differently Than Cleaning Boys
The crucial difference when cleaning a girl’s genitals is that parents should clean a baby girls vulva by wiping front to back. The idea is to wipe excrement away from the vulva, which will help prevent urinary tract infections.
Little boys penises can simply be wiped clean. Do not try to pull the foreskin back and uncircumcised baby boys. Great care should also be taken when wiping a freshly circumcised penis.
Mask the Scent
Some parents become diaper averse due to the stink. But a survey of sanitation workers and nurses reveals a few tricks that could make things better. Many opt for a dab of essential oil or a swipe of Vicks Vaporub across the upper lip. For more serious scents, apply a mentholated or minty product on the inside of a standard dust mask.
Dab at Diaper Rash
Diaper rash can turn changing into a nightmare of red-faced baby-screaming. To dial back the discomfort a kid is feeling due to their irritated skin, reach for wipes that are scent-free. And when cleaning the area, dab rather than wipe. To further reduce contact, parents can even opt to cleanse the area with water via a spray bottle filled with warm water. Just make sure that the baby’s skin is dabbed completely dry after cleaning.
Diaper rash is very much about controlling moisture. There are plenty of creams and pastes that help form a barrier between irritating urine and feces and new skin. However, if the rash persists or worsens it’s time to speak with a pediatrician.
Use the Time to Bond
Finally, while diapering does feel like a chore, it can be an incredibly important time for bonding and learning. While the kid is captive, parents should take time to talk, play and touch. One of the best ways to spend the time is for parents to talk to the baby about what they’re doing, creating a monologue about the sensations and the parts that are being cleaned.
There’s also plenty of time for little tickles, leg messages and practicing the dad jokes before the kid learns to roll their eyes.