Nappy changing, while not everyone’s favourite chore, can actually be a positive experience for you and your baby. If it makes you feel nervous or stressed, your baby will also be more likely to pick up on these feelings. The most important thing to remember is that you have got this. There are some simple things you can do too to feel more at ease with the ups and downs of nappy changing, even when it’s a challenging change.
- Be prepared! Have a fresh nappy open and ready to slide on, a nappy sack and a couple of wipes out of the packet and ready to use, before you start undressing your baby and taking the wet or soiled nappy off. Using a chemical free wipe such as WaterWipes means you don’t have to worry about irritating your baby’s sensitive skin.
- If you’ve never changed a nappy – or you’ve specifically never changed a boy or girl’s nappy, don’t be afraid to ask a midwife to show you in hospital and to watch you do it a few times until you feel confident. There’s no reason you’d know how unless you’ve had experience with a real baby, so use the time you have in hospital to get as much help as you need. You may also have willing relatives who can help show you. Don’t feel that you have to get to grips with it on your own. Practise makes perfect and support helps you get there quicker and more confidently
- Talk to your baby and make eye contact as you change their nappy. Studies have shown that even a newborn baby can find emotional comfort in their mother’s voice, so for mums this can be a real help in calming your baby when they really need to be changed. Keep talking in a soothing, reassuring voice as you change them, as this will help to create a calm and positive atmosphere. Even if the baby doesn’t stop crying, they will still be hearing your voice and be reassured by it. Try and remember that your baby is crying to communicate with you, not because they are upset with you.
- Continue until you are done – if your baby is upset, continual stopping and starting to pick them up and calm them down won’t help. It will only prolong the process and they may them start to cry each time you try and start again. Aim to get through the change as fast as you can, whilst soothing your baby with your voice. As soon as the dry nappy is on, you can pick your baby up for big cuddles to calm them down completely.
- Use distraction – as your newborn baby gets older and starts to notice the world around them, often around 10-12 weeks, give them something to hold and play with, such as a favourite toy or teether, as you change their nappy. This again creates a very positive, playful experience and helps the baby to associate nappy changing with fun and bonding. As they start moving, you can also sing songs to keep their attention as you attempt a world record nappy changing time.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – some baby vests or sleep suits will be destined for the bin after a nappy explosion – and that’s absolutely to be expected. Buying multipacks of simple basics is always a great idea, as you won’t be so inclined to worry if something can’t be saved after a poo-explosion.
- Call for reinforcements – If you have any willing helpers around, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let’s be honest, some nappy changes can be complete disasters and your baby’s poo can get everywhere! It’s at times like these when calling on your partner or anyone else in the house to help can make all the difference. If you’re on your own, prioritise getting baby clean, dry and safe in a fresh nappy before worrying anything else at all.
Boys vs girls
Research suggests that when asked, many parents said they felt anxious about nappy changing their newborn. More parents say that changing girls is easier than boys (40%) and yet common advice given is often generic and not gender specific.
Here are Lisa’s simple steps for changing a nappy for boys and girls:
During a nappy changing with boys, cold air is almost certain to cause them to wee mid nappy change in the early days and weeks. This can be a shock for parents who aren’t expecting it, as little boys tend to wee up in the air, covering themselves and whoever is changing the nappy. This can then result in a whole outfit change too! Don’t worry, there are ways to minimise this risk though…
- When you open his nappy, place a flannel, a couple of WaterWipes or a kitchen towel over his willy. He will still likely wee as the cold air hits his nappy area, but you’ll make sure he doesn’t spray himself or you.
- Ensure you lift his willy and testicles up and clean all around and under – poo can get in all sorts of places and it’s very easy to miss some, which will cause nappy rash and a sore bottom.
- Once he’s all clean, pat him dry with a flannel or the new nappy.
- Before you close his nappy, ensure his willy is pointing down. This will mean leakages are much less likely. You also need to put the nappy on so it’s very snug with no gaps over his hips and pull the little tabs out all around his legs.
- Poo can end up in all folds of the skin in a baby girl’s nappy area, so it’s very important to ensure you clean her well. If poo is left behind then it can cause infections, so don’t be anxious about spending time making sure you get it all. WaterWipes are great for soiled nappies – specifically developed for babies’ sensitive skin, they are made with 99.9% purified water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, so you can be confident that you won’t irritate even sensitive parts of your baby girl.
- Always wipe from front to back when changing girls to prevent any risk of bacteria transferring from your baby’s bottom to her vagina or urethra. For dirty nappies, it may be easier to use fresh wipes for each area.
- Pat dry her bottom at the front and back to ensure its not still damp when you put her new nappy back on. This will make her much less likely to end up with nappy rash or a red bottom.
- Ensure the nappy is done up so its snug and pull the tabs out around her legs. Finish with a cuddle.
Lisa Clegg, Parenting Expert and Author of The Blissful Baby Expert and The Blissful Toddler Expert