How to change your newborn’s first nappy

Anxious about changing your newborn’s nappy for the first time? We get it. Here’s the fool-proof guide you’ve been hoping for.

4 min read

How to change your newborn’s first nappy

Anxious about changing your newborn’s nappy for the first time? We get it. Here’s the fool-proof guide you’ve been hoping for.

4 min read

What do you need to change a nappy?

Firstly, make sure you have all you need to hand next to the area you have chosen to change your baby’s nappy. This may be a changing unit with a mat on top, or a changing mat on the bed, or the floor. Gather these items before starting:

  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Nappy cream
  • Nappy caddy/organiser
  • Nappy bin or biodegradable nappy sacks
  • The changing mat
  • A change of clothes

NEVER leave your baby unattended

Nappy changing on the go?

Pack an identical kit in your changing bag and make sure you refill it each time you get home. Add some biodegradable nappy sacks.

How to change your newborn’s nappy step by step.

First time parent? Don’t worry if you’re all fingers and thumbs at first. After a few times, you’ll be an expert.

  1. Gently lie your baby on their back on the changing mat. Undo and then remove the clothing on their lower half and move out of the way.
  2. Undo the tapes at the front of the nappy and open it up; if it’s just wet, raise your baby’s legs and bottom and slide it out.
  3. If the nappy is dirty, use the nappy to clean off most of the area. You might need to use a wipe at this stage to clean some of the poo, then slide the dirty nappy away.
  4. Using a gentle baby wipe, clean all the nappy area. Wipe from front to back.
  5. Apply nappy cream if required and massage in.
  6. Clean around the umbilical cord and dry (the cord will drop off by itself a couple of weeks after birth)
  7. Gently raising your baby’s legs and lower body by the ankles, slide a fresh nappy under their bottom. Let the legs down.
  8. Bring the front of the nappy up to lay it on their belly, pick up the 'wings' of each side of the nappy and stick the stretchy tape on them onto the front of the nappy.
  9. Fold down the waistband of the nappy at the front so that it is not rubbing on the umbilical cord. Some newborn nappies have a cut-away here.
  10. Lastly, to prevent any little accidents, run a finger around the inside of the leg 'cuffs' to pull them out. All done!

How do I change a baby boy’s nappy?

It’s a little tricky when changing boys, as they can wee in all directions! When you remove a nappy, have a wipe or clean flannel handy and quickly place it over your little boy’s penis to catch unexpected wee.

How do I change a baby girl’s nappy?

It’s a little easier to change girls, as they aren’t capable of such spectacular weeing but do remember that it’s important to wipe from front to back to avoid urinary tract infections (UTIs).

How often should I change my baby’s nappy?

Nappies should be changed every time your baby poos. Modern nappies are designed to be absorbent, so they can hold two to three wees but do change it if it feels heavy and swollen. Not changing your baby’s nappy frequently can lead to nappy rash.

Should I use nappy cream at every change?

If your baby’s skin is clean and healthy, you don’t need a nappy cream, though a barrier cream can help prevent nappy rash. If your baby has nappy rash, use a cream until it clears up. Allow your baby some nappy-free time to allow air to get to the skin.

How can I treat nappy rash?

At the first signs of raw, red, or chapped skin, use a good quality nappy rash cream; your Health Visitor can advise which cream to use. Allow nappy free time, as above.

Should you change a dirty nappy immediately?

While you can leave a nappy on that has a small amount of urine in it, you should change your baby’s nappy when they poo. It can irritate the skin, leaving it sore. It can also lead to UTIs if left unchanged.

Is nappy changing gross?

Many parents worry that they’ll find changing their baby’s nappy disgusting but it’s not that bad! Small babies don’t have terribly smelly poo, especially if breastfed. Just be aware that a few days after the birth, they may pass a nasty black or greenish poo. This is meconium, a substance that has filled your baby’s intestines in the womb.

How can I tell if the nappy fits my baby?

Nappies are designed to fit babies by weight, so check the packet. It should be snug (not tight) around the waist, with no gaps around the legs. The nappy should not leave any red marks.

What position should my baby be in for a nappy change?

This is a matter of personal preference, with some parents preferring to change their baby lying sideways, others with the head away from you. Gently pick up your baby’s legs and bottom by holding both their feet in one of your hands, using the other to clean and change.

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