For parents – whether new or old – diapering is a prominent part of parenthood. Before the child can be trained to use the toilet themselves, diapers are the only solution to avoid messy situations. So, until the child reaches 3-4 years of age, diapers are used to collect their urine and other fecal matter. Babies normally need to be changed seven to ten times daily.
Diaper changing may seem like a daunting task to new parents in the beginning. However, with careful hands and a bit of practice, it can turn into an everyday, simple task in no time. Keeping your baby clean is one of the most important responsibilities as a parent. Use this article as a guide on how you can efficiently change your baby’s diapers with care.
How are Babies Cleaned Before the Diapering Process?
Before moving on to putting your child in a diaper, the baby’s nether region must be clean. Begin by wiping the baby’s nether region, then move on to the diapering.
For this part, it is crucial to use a soft, damp washcloth. Cotton balls and gentle baby wipes work as well. Using your cleaning cloth of choice, gently wipe your baby’s genitals starting from the front towards the back. It should never be done the other way around, especially for girls. That is because that could spread bacteria and lead to infections in the urinary tract. For boys, it is best to place a new diaper over the genitals while changing because suddenly being exposed to air can cause them to urinate.
Lift the baby’s legs gently by the ankles to clean the areas underneath and clean the buttocks and the thigh area as well. After this part is done, dry the baby’s genitals with a new, dry washcloth in gentle patting motions. After that, move on to applying ointment to prevent irritation and rashes.
Diaper Types and How to Use Them
Diapers essentially come in two main types: cloth diapers and disposable diapers. Both have their pros and cons, and both are popular options for parents.
If you are a parent who prefers this old-fashioned way, try to make the padding thicker where it is more likely to get wet instead of stuffing it entirely. Stuffing it too much could spread the child’s legs far apart and that could lead to complications.
Cloth diapers are a more suitable option for parents wanting an environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution. These diapers can also be found in many forms and sizes. The more traditional ones can be found already folded or square-shaped. Square-shaped ones require pinning to stay in place.
The more modern kinds are usually shaped similar to the disposable ones with snaps or Velcro closures. Some also come with accessories like flush-friendly liners.
If you happen to stick with traditional methods of diapering with cloth, there are two ways you can fasten the diapers:
Triangular Folding Method
To make a triangular diaper from cloth, fold a square cloth diagonally to turn it into a triangle. After that, place the triangle under the baby by gently raising the baby’s legs, holding them by the ankles. Slide the diaper under the baby’s bottom, the longest sides of the triangle should be around the baby’s waist. The triangle’s opposite pointy corner should be pointing towards the baby’s feet.
Continue by bringing that same pointy corner up across the baby’s legs, then placing it on the baby’s stomach.
Lift one side (of the longest side of the triangle) and bring it towards the center so that it overlaps the previously placed corner. Bring the other side up and across as well, onto the stomach overlapping the previous two corners. Finish by securing all three corners with a big (it should easily be visible) safety pin with a safety guard.
Rectangular Folding Method
The rectangular folding method involves folding the diaper in half to create a rectangle shape. Parents often add an extra fold for extra padding. Place the rectangle under the baby in a vertical position, like them. Bring the bottom corner up and place it on the baby’s stomach (the other side, i.e., under the baby, is already pointing upwards). Bring one corner of the rectangle around the baby’s side, and the lower corner meeting it as well, and fasten them with a big safety pin. Do the same to the other side.
Another, not so popular, method is to tie an elastic waistband to the baby’s waist. Then instead of securing the sides of the baby’s waist, tuck both ends of the rectangular diaper into the waistband. Follow that by spreading the ends around the waistband equally. The reason why this method is not so well-received is that it can cause the child discomfort with the constant friction it might create. The friction, especially when wet, could cause a deep wound on the infant’s belly.
Both Methods Combined
Another way is to combine both methods. Start by placing the rectangular diaper on top of the triangular diaper. Then bring the corner of the rectangular, as well as the triangular diapers up towards the infant’s stomach. Then bring the remaining sides of the triangle over to the middle (just the way it is done with the triangular diaper method). Finally, either tie a knot in the middle or secure it with a big safety pin.
This way, the diaper is more secure, and the triangular one can be thinner this time, with only two layers.
Open the diaper up, place it under the baby by gently lifting their legs and feet. Ensure that the adhesive strips line up with the baby’s bellybutton. Lift the front of the diaper and bring it across the baby’s legs to place it onto their stomach.
Finally, fasten the adhesive strips and check that they are fastened comfortably i.e., not too tight or too loose. Also, make sure not to let the strips come into contact with the baby’s skin. Trying to remove them will be uncomfortable for the baby.
How Often Should Diapers Be Changed?
It is usually recommended to change a newborn’s diapers every 2-3 hours, sometimes more, because new-borns urinate every 1-3 hours. It is important to do so because while babies are not bothered by being wet, the moisture can still cause rashes.
Most parents change their babies’ diapers before feeding them or while feeding them. Babies tend to defecate while being fed hence it is recommended to check their diapers during feeding times.
How Can Diaper Rashes Be Prevented?
Rashes are a common occurrence in babies. If they happen to persist for more than a couple of days, it might be best to contact the baby’s doctor and let them know the whole situation.
To prevent rashes from happening in the first place, try to change your baby’s diapers as often as possible. It also helps to clean the genitals gently; harsh movements could irritate the baby’s skin more.
Applying rash ointment can also help in the healing of the rashes, especially ointments with zinc oxide. Zinc oxide creates a barrier that prevents moisture from worsening the rashes.
Another thing that helps is to avoid diapering the baby for a day and laying them on a few diaper cloths instead.
Parents using cloth diapers must wash them in detergents that are free of fragrance. They should avoid scents in general.
Can Improper Diapering Affect the Joints of Babies?
If their diapers are not put on properly, babies younger than three months can carry the risk of suffering from hip dislocation problems.
When the baby is inside the womb, its resting position is similar to that of a crab. A baby’s hip joint and socket are not entirely formed at birth. The socket and hip joint become fixed completely when the child turns two or three years old. If a baby’s knees are straightened with force, that could cause strain to the muscles attached to the thigh bones. The developing bone (located at the hip) that usually forms a cap for the socket to keep the hip joint in place can also be dislocated if the diaper padding is improper.
Due to these reasons, the diaper should be carefully checked by the parents. It should be padded enough for the baby’s legs to be able to maintain their natural posture. Cloth diapers are better at keeping the hips of new-borns wide apart compared to disposable ones. Squat seat slings can also help maintain that posture.
In case the baby’s hip joint and socket are unable to connect properly for cap formation, the child may develop Hip Dysplasia. This is a painful condition for children to be in. A properly padded cloth diaper for, at least, the first three months can prevent babies from developing hip problems.
Diapers do not only help avoid messes, but they also affect their bodily growth and development. It is the parents’ utmost responsibility to ensure that their children are comfortable and clean at all times.