Changing your baby's diaper

Changing your baby’s diaper can be a tricky part of newborn care. But with practice, you can be a pro.

How do you prepare for diapering?

Collect your supplies:

  • A sturdy flat surface, like a changing table
  • A clean diaper
  • Baby wipes or a soft washcloth
  • Diaper rash ointment

How do you change your baby’s diaper?

Here’s how to change your baby’s diaper:

  1. Place your baby on a changing table and unfasten her diaper.
  2. Hold your baby’s ankles with one hand. Lift her legs and bottom and remove her dirty diaper with your other hand.
  3. If there’s a big mess, use the front, clean part of the diaper to wipe her bottom from front to back.
  4. Use diaper wipes or plain water on a soft cloth to gently clean your baby’s genitals and bottom. Take extra care with creases and folds in your baby’s skin. For baby girls, always wipe from front to back to avoid infection.
  5. Pat dry. Apply diaper rash ointment if your baby has a diaper rash. Don’t use talcum powder because it can irritate your baby’s lungs.
  6. Slide a clean diaper under your baby. If you’re using a disposable diaper, be sure the sticky tabs to fasten the diaper are behind the baby.
  7. Fasten the diaper on both sides of your baby. For a disposable diaper, press the sticky tabs to the front of the diaper.
  8. Tuck the new diaper under your baby’s umbilical cord until it heals. Make sure the diaper doesn’t bunch up between her legs.
  9. To prevent accidents, make sure there aren’t any diaper openings around her hips.

How do you diaper your baby boy after a circumcision?

The diapering steps above are good for all babies. But if your baby boy is circumcised:

  • For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.

How can you care for your baby's umbilical cord stump?

Your baby's umbilical cord stump will drop off in about 10 days. Until then, here's what to do:

  • Keep the stump clean and dry. Tuck your baby's diaper below the cord so that the cord is exposed to the air.
  • Be sure the area around the cord is clean and dry. If it gets dirty, clean the area with a baby wipe. Or dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently clean around the cord.
  • Call your baby's provider if you see pus or redness or if the baby cries when you touch the area. These could be signs of infection.

To learn how to give your baby a sponge bath until his belly button heals, read Giving your baby a bath.


Last reviewed: June, 2012

Changing your baby’s diaper can be a tricky part of newborn care. But with practice, you can be a pro.

How do you prepare for diapering?

Collect your supplies:

  • A sturdy flat surface, like a changing table
  • A clean diaper
  • Baby wipes or a soft washcloth
  • Diaper rash ointment

How do you change your baby’s diaper?

Here’s how to change your baby’s diaper:

  1. Place your baby on a changing table and unfasten her diaper.
  2. Hold your baby’s ankles with one hand. Lift her legs and bottom and remove her dirty diaper with your other hand.
  3. If there’s a big mess, use the front, clean part of the diaper to wipe her bottom from front to back.
  4. Use diaper wipes or plain water on a soft cloth to gently clean your baby’s genitals and bottom. Take extra care with creases and folds in your baby’s skin. For baby girls, always wipe from front to back to avoid infection.
  5. Pat dry. Apply diaper rash ointment if your baby has a diaper rash. Don’t use talcum powder because it can irritate your baby’s lungs.
  6. Slide a clean diaper under your baby. If you’re using a disposable diaper, be sure the sticky tabs to fasten the diaper are behind the baby.
  7. Fasten the diaper on both sides of your baby. For a disposable diaper, press the sticky tabs to the front of the diaper.
  8. Tuck the new diaper under your baby’s umbilical cord until it heals. Make sure the diaper doesn’t bunch up between her legs.
  9. To prevent accidents, make sure there aren’t any diaper openings around her hips.

How do you diaper your baby boy after a circumcision?

The diapering steps above are good for all babies. But if your baby boy is circumcised:

  • For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.

How can you care for your baby's umbilical cord stump?

Your baby's umbilical cord stump will drop off in about 10 days. Until then, here's what to do:

  • Keep the stump clean and dry. Tuck your baby's diaper below the cord so that the cord is exposed to the air.
  • Be sure the area around the cord is clean and dry. If it gets dirty, clean the area with a baby wipe. Or dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently clean around the cord.
  • Call your baby's provider if you see pus or redness or if the baby cries when you touch the area. These could be signs of infection.

To learn how to give your baby a sponge bath until his belly button heals, read Giving your baby a bath.


Last reviewed: June, 2012