How to change a nappy
Nappy changes - as easy as one, two… wee. All over the place, sometimes. Things are about to get a bit messy, but don’t worry, you’ll get there. Start training with our nappy-changing guide.
At a glance
Before you start, gather everything you need
Dirty nappies are usually the cause of nappy rash
Clean with cotton wool and cooled boiled water, or fragrance- and alcohol-free baby wipes
A thoroughly dry bottom is a thoroughly happy bottom
Nappy changing - it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. A little preparation and practice will get you into a good routine.
Things you need to change a nappy
Have everything to hand before you start.
- Changing mat
- Clean towel
- New nappy
- Nappy sack
- Bowl of warm water
- Cotton wool or fragrance- and alcohol-free baby wipes
Disposable or renewable? The nappy jury is still out on this one because what you might save on landfill you might lose on extra washing and water. Chemical-free, sustainable nappy brands seem the best ones to look out for.
How to change a nappy
- Hygiene first, wash your hands.
- Cover the changing mat with a towel and lie your baby it.
- OK. Let’s do this. Undo and remove the nappy. If the nappy is full, use any clean edge to remove most of the mess. If the nappy is just wet, keep it underneath while you clean baby.
- Clean baby’s bottom thoroughly with clean cotton wool, dry or dipped in warm water. You could also use fragrance- and alcohol-free baby wipes.
- For a baby girl, wipe from front to back. For boys, wipe from back to front. Then dry their bottom thoroughly with the towel. Don’t forget those creases.
- Lift baby’s legs up in one hand and slip the new nappy (tags at the back) under their bottom using the other hand. Bring the front of the nappy up to their waist and fasten the tags.
- Hygiene last, wash your hands.
- If you can, make space for a changing station. A place where you can leave all of your nappy changing supplies so they’re close at hand.
- When travelling, make sure you take enough supplies. A baby could need 6-12 nappies per day. Otherwise it’s… ‘We’re going to need a bigger bag!’ It’s a good idea to have one packed so you can just grab it and go when you need to.
- Wondering where to start with that changing bag? Get a few pointers from our guide on how to plan days out with babies.
- When it comes to nappies and the environment, it can be confusing. What you reduce on landfill with reusable nappies you might increase on washing impact, unless your washing is powered by renewables - there’s also the excess water to think of. If you’re leaning towards disposables perhaps going for chemical-free, sustainable nappy brands will be a worthwhile compromise.
Let’s talk about the colour of baby poo.
The first few nappy changes might contain a surprise: black or dark green poo with a strange, sticky texture. This is called meconium. During the nine months of pregnancy baby ingested a variety of waste matter such as mucus, bile, cells, amniotic fluid, lanugo and their own hair. These somewhat odd-looking parcels you unwrap from your baby are actually completely normal. In fact, it’s a good sign that baby’s digestive system is doing its job.
After a few days of milk, the poo will turn yellowish. If you’re breastfeeding it can be watery, and mustard-like. If you’re formula feeding, there’s a chance it may be a bit darker, firmer… and, sorry, smellier.
For more poo-related facts, from a spectrum of stool colours to a range of nappy numbers, go to our own page of all things baby poo.
How to avoid infection and nappy rash
- Remember to wash your hands after every nappy change.
- Change any wet and dirty nappies as soon as you can, to prevent nappy rash. How often you’ll be doing this will depend on your baby. When they’ve got to go, they’ve got to go.
- Baby nappy rash is a common irritation of the skin. Prevention is the best treatment. So try to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry. Applying barrier cream regularly usually helps.
- Nappy rash usually clears up after about three days, but if the rash is not improving or causing your baby discomfort, contact your GP or health visitor for advice.