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How to change a diaper: Your simple step-by-step guide

Let us guide you through how to change a diaper like a pro

From the proper way to cradle the neck to making sure they lay baby on a safe surface, new parents have a lot of information to keep straight. They also have to learn all about the glamorous process of diaper changes and how to change a newborn's diaper. If you went to those baby prep classes — even if you didn't — and still don't feel like you're ready for those first diaper changes, backup is here.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Clean, flat surface

  • Fresh diaper (cloth or disposable)

  • Wipes

  • Rash ointment of choice

  • Change of clothes (in case of blowout)

  • Patience and understanding

We know firsthand how precious that little baby is to you. We also know how we weren't ready for those first few changes. Practicing on a doll doesn't prepare you for anything. That's why we have this handy "how to change a diaper" guide for you to reference until you have that old pro confidence.

A parent getting ready to change their baby
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Prep before the change

There's nothing worse than going to change a newborn — or any baby — and not having a completely prepped workstation. If you think you'll be able to stop mid-change and then go grab the wipes; you're in for a horrible surprise.

Make sure you have the basics within reach and that you can use everything with one hand if need be.

Step 1: Open up the wipes with one ready to grab.

Step 2: Have the diaper opened up so all you have to do is slip it under baby when you take the dirty one off.

Step 3: Have the ointment by you and cap opened so all you have to do is squeeze.

A happy baby laying down on the floor in a diaper
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The process of the change

We know that changing a teeny tiny newborn might make anyone feel anxious. But as long as you take your time, you'll be fine. There really isn't a whole lot of wriggle room in the process. Just focus on not rushing to make sure the whole change gets completed.

Step 1: Always make sure baby is on a flat surface.

Step 2: Take off whatever clothing is needed to change the diaper.

Step 3: Undo the diaper and take a quick peek to see what the situation looks like.

Step 4: One hand holds baby's legs (they tend to squirm) and the other hand does the needed work of wiping.

Step 5: Take away the dirty diaper and put the fresh diaper under baby's bottom.

Step 6: Apply rash cream as needed.

Step 7: Secure the new diaper (not too tightly) and redress baby.

Step 8: Wrap the dirty diaper/wipes up for disposal.

A mom making a cloth diaper change on a baby

Finish the change

The process of changing a baby isn't finished once that diaper is snug on their bottom. You have to make sure that no matter who changes that bundle of joy that everything is cleaned up for the next time.

If there's another adult in the house that will change baby next or even if it will be yourself, changing time will go more smoothly if you don't have to rush and run around trying to find the wipes.

Step 1: Set baby in a safe place first.

Step 2: Throw the dirty diaper away and wash your hands.

Step 3: Put the wipes back where they go and put away any liners/changing mats (clean if needed). Get the changing station set up for the next use.

Step 4: Wash your hands again if you need to. With all the diaper changing and hand washing, you want to invest in some great hand lotion and a container of Vaseline in case your hands get less than baby-smooth.

A mother changing a baby on a bed
Alina Troeva / Shutterstock

Extra pro tips to always remember

There are a few things to remember to make changing a baby easier on everyone.

  • Avoid all baby products with fragrance and alcohol.
  • For baby girls, the way to wipe is front to back.
  • The longer a baby sits in a dirty diaper, the more likely they are to get a rash.
  • Never leave a baby mid-change — they will make a new mess before your next blink.
  • Always double-check the diaper bag has all items if you leave the house with baby.
  • Make it as enjoyable as possible — sing, tickle, do voices, or make funny noises for baby.
A parent changing a baby
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How often should you change a diaper?

This is completely up to how often your baby goes to the bathroom. Normally though, newborns need to be changed about every 2 hours or after every time they eat. Whether baby is breastfed or fed formula; it doesn't matter. After they eat, a dirty diaper is soon to follow.

Once mini-me has been changed and everything is put away, give yourself a high-five. You did it! And if everything didn't go exactly the way you wanted it to (maybe your bundle of joy got a little something on you), don't worry; you're going to have countless chances to get your technique down.

The more diapers you change, the more you'll perfect your personal routine. You'll have a favorite spot you like to change baby and even a favorite kind of diaper. Even the parent pros make a mistake every now and then. Be easy on yourself and enjoy the bonding time that diaper changes should be. It's just you and your precious peanut learning the ways of changing a diaper together — with a little help from our guide.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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