The Best Way To Change A Diaper

The Best Way To Change A Diaper

Changing a dirty diaper can be one of the most daunting challenges that new parents have to deal with. Whether you’re faced with the prospect of changing your very first diaper or you’ve already changed hundreds, a few tips and a simple step-by-step process will make it all go smoother.

diaper table

Let Mustela’s experts show you the best (and correct) way to change a diaper so your baby stays clean, happy and comfortable. And don’t worry—the steps are pretty easy:

  • Undo the diaper.
  • Remove the dirty diaper.
  • Wipe from front to back.
  • Dispose of the dirty diaper.

That’s four of the eight steps right there! The other four aren’t that much more complicated and we promise this will be a breeze. Before we get into the step-by-step, though, here are a few pre-change tips to make every diaper change easier.

Tip #1: Have Everything At Hand


Whether you change your baby on the floor in the living room or on a changing table in the nursery, you’re going to need everything within arms reach. First and foremost, this will allow you to keep your focus on your newborn.

This is especially important if you’re changing her on a changing table, whether at home or out of the house. You should never turn your back on your baby or lose contact just to retrieve a fresh diaper or a tube of cream. It only takes a second for an accident to happen.

Having all your supplies—clean diapers, wipes, creams—close at hand can also make the process go much faster. The less time your baby is uncovered, the less chance there is of an accident happening on your nice clean floor or freshly washed changing pad cover.

Tip #2: Place Your Baby On A Washable Changing Pad

Placing your baby on a washable changing pad provides an extra layer of protection against accidents. The easiest pads to maintain are covered in plastic. The plastic coating makes clean-up a breeze: just wipe and go.

Some plastic covered pads, like those typically found on stationary changing furniture, are made of thick foam for your baby’s comfort. Other pads, like those for on the go, have thinner padding but are foldable for easy packing. Either type of pad will do.

Tip #3: Wash Your Hands

wash you hands

Before you jump into actually changing your baby’s diaper, it’s wise to wash your hands. This is an often overlooked, yet important, step for keeping your baby healthy. But sometimes, you won’t have water and soap available...or, honestly, you might just forget.

That’s okay. Just grab a diaper wipe, like Mustela’s Dermo-Soothing Wipes, and give your hands a quick rub. Only have a few wipes left for your baby? Try using Mustela’s No Rinse Cleansing Water to clean both your hands and your baby’s bottom.

Tip #4: Keep Ahold Of Your Baby At All Times

This is especially important if you place your baby on a tall piece of furniture, like a changing table. Make sure you have one hand on your baby at all times to keep her from wiggling too far away from you. If your changing table has a retention strap (like a small seat belt), buckle it over your baby’s body to keep her secure.

If you change your baby on the floor, try giving her a toy or small stuffed animal to keep her entertained while you take care of the diaper. When you place your baby on the floor, make sure there are no small objects within your baby’s reach that can hurt her. Remember, babies put everything in their mouths.

Now that you’ve got those tips in mind, you’re ready to get started! Here are the eight steps to a successful diaper change.


1) Undo The Diaper

Alright, are you ready? Take a few breaths and undo the tape holding the diaper together. Fold the front of the diaper down, and then progress through the next five steps as quickly, but safely, as possible. Here we go!

2) Grasp Your Baby By The Ankles With One Hand

The simplest way to get the diaper out from under your baby’s backside is to cross her legs at the ankles, and then grab them both—gently!—with your left hand (or your right hand if you’re a lefty).

3) Lift Her Bottom And Remove The Dirty Diaper

Lift your baby’s bottom just enough to slide the dirty diaper from under her back. Just a few inches is enough to get your baby off the diaper and to give you easy access for cleaning.

When the dirty diaper is out from under your baby, keep pulling up on her ankles and set the dirty diaper aside. Leave the diaper open for a few moments while you complete the next step. Keep those ankles up!

4) Wipe From Front To Back

At this point, diaper wipes like Mustela’s Dermo-Soothing Wipes (Delicately Fragranced) will be your best friend. With a wipe in hand, wipe your baby’s diaper area from front to back (or top to bottom, depending on how you look at it). Keep in mind that one wipe might not be enough. It’s okay to use as many as you need to get the job done.

When you first started changing diapers, you may have used handfuls at a time. That’s okay. Just keep practicing (as if you had a choice) and you’ll get better. When your baby is nearing potty-training age, you’ll be so adept at the process, you’ll be able to use one or two wipes for the whole thing.

When you’re finished with the dirty wipes, place them inside the open dirty diaper so you can later discard everything at once.

Now that your baby’s bottom is clean, it’s time to apply a diaper change cleanser, like Mustela’s Liniment, to keep your baby’s skin soft and smooth. Mustela’s Liniment provides skin-soothing nutrients and creates a moisture barrier on your baby’s skin that keeps it hydrated and healthy all day long.

Now that your baby is clean, cleansed and ready to be re-diapered, take a moment to ask the following question:

Should You Give Your Baby A Bath?

baby bath after diaper change

We consider this an optional step (which is why we haven’t numbered it), but one that can be very important at times. Sometimes your baby is so dirty that no amount of wipes will get the job done. At other times, diaper rash may be rearing its ugly head. In these instances, it can be soothing for your baby to play in the tub for a while.

Regardless of the circumstances that prompted the bath, it’s beneficial to add a few drops of oil, like Mustela’s Bath Oil, to the water to help moisturize skin. Then wash with a gentle cleanser, like Mustela’s Gentle Cleansing Gel, to fully clean your baby. If you want to add a little extra fun to your little one’s bath time, we recommend Mustela’s Multi-Sensory Bubble Bath.

When you’re done with the bath, return to your baby’s changing station and finish up with the next few steps.

5) Slide A Clean Diaper Under Your Baby

Gently take hold of your baby’s ankles again and lift slightly. Unfold a clean diaper (you’ll get used to doing it one-handed after a while) and slide it under your baby’s back. Make sure the tape tabs are in the back as you slide it under.

And if you think all that’s left is to tape the diaper closed, think again! We just put the clean diaper here at this point to protect against accidents. We’ve still got four very important steps to go.

6) Apply A Diaper Rash Cream Daily

At some point in your baby’s life, she is going to develop diaper rash. It can happen when she’s teething, her diet changes, or it gets too hot. It can even happen if she drinks too much.

Diaper rash is completely normal. So don’t worry, and apply Mustela’s Diaper Rash Cream 1-2-3 daily to both treat and prevent diaper rash and to help keep your baby comfortable and happy.

7) Close And Seal The New Diaper

apply a new diaper

Release your baby’s ankles (which should still be elevated, by the way), and fold the new diaper over her diaper area. Fold the tape fasteners closed (they should attach in the front near your baby’s hips). Make sure the diaper isn’t too tight or too loose. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit two fingers (your pointer and middle pressed together) between the diaper’s waistband and your baby’s belly.

When the new diaper is secure, place your baby on the floor for some wiggle time, or in her crib for a nap. But wait! You’re not quite done yet. There’s one crucial step left.

8) Dispose Of The Dirty Diaper

Fold the dirty diaper into a ball and secure it closed with the tape fasteners. Dispose of the diaper in the garbage. To keep the smell down, you might want to seal the dirty diapers in ziplock plastic bag or invest in a diaper genie.

And that’s it-- you’re done until the next dirty diaper! For more ways to make diaper changing easier, check out our line of diaper change products.

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