How to change a nappy

Dad Paul Chai shares some tips to help new parents roll up their sleeves and change their fair share of nappies. 

The best way to change a nappy is quickly! Preferably before you have to take a breath. 

I admit that in the early days I invested in a box of disposable surgical gloves to change my kid’s dirty nappies. I did. I would put on the gloves each time before wrestling with the wriggling infant, then have to snap them off again when I was finished, but all it really did was make the whole process longer – so I gave up, around about the time I realised that rubber gloves cannot protect you when your child pees on you  before you have time to get the new nappy on.

Be prepared

The best you can hope for when it comes to changing nappies is a fast and efficient job. This is made all the easier by having everything ready to go. 
 
If you are at home you should have a clean, flat surface covered by a changing pad or towel to keep it clean. And you should have everything you need close to hand: a clean nappy, wipes and lotion if you are using it.
 
If your child is on an elevated surface, never take your hands off them as even the youngest little baby can unexpectedly roll off.
 
Peeling back the strips on a nappy is like unwrapping an unwanted present. If your nose works then you probably have an idea what you are in for!  
 
If the nappy is of the ‘hazmat’ variety (some call this a poo explosion) it is best to try to wipe up while it is still open and contain some of the dirty wipes in the nappy itself. This is particularly true if you are changing a nappy in public as you can keep everything tied up in a neat little bundle. Otherwise you need to travel with a plastic bag with you, kind of like when you walk your dog.

Keep your baby clean

Wiping another person’s bum is never fun but make sure you do it properly because germs can cause infections, and nappy rash is  painful for your child. 
 
There are a couple of gender variations to contend with. For girls, it’s important to wipe from ‘front to back’ to avoid the risk of urinary tract infections. For boys, keep an eye on the end of the penis, which can get red if it is irritated or beginning to get an infection.
 
Once clean, just slide the fresh nappy underneath and secure it, then repeat… for a couple of years. Don't put it off any longer, best to learn how to change a nappy now, because it's only going to get harder as they get stronger, bigger and wrigglier!

Don’t put it off

I have one other tip when it comes to this, the least exciting part of being a new parent. We tend to avoid things that we don’t like, but when it comes to nappies that can come back to bite you. A neglected nappy is prone to a ‘blow-out’ when it’s so full that it simply cannot absorb any more bodily fluids.
 
I learned this the hard way at a (sort of) romantic lunch with my wife and child at a beach-side restaurant in Noosa.
 
I knew we were reaching ‘peak nappy’, but there was nowhere easy to change our newborn and I was enjoying my lunch so I just left it. When I moved our son – whom I was holding while I ate – from one side to the other I found a large brown stain on my white shirt. 
 
One extremely messy nappy change later and there was nothing for me to do but to walk fully clothed into the Noosa surf to clean myself off. Nappy changes never really seemed so bad after that.

You might also like how to hold a baby or how to prepare a baby's bottle.

For more support, tools and information to help guide you through the first thousand days of your parenting journey, from conception to two years old, click here.

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