How to change a nappy, help prevent nappy rash and stop the spread of germs
To help prevent nappy rash (or diaper rash) and stop the spread of germs during nappy changing, good hygiene is essential. But which nappies should you use? And what are the health risks to look out for? Take a look at our baby changing basics below.
Which is the best nappy for my baby and what other materials do I need?
There are two kinds of nappies: disposable and reusable. A recent study found that neither type is better or worse for the environment, so which should you choose?
Disposable nappies are highly absorbent, so keep your baby’s skin dry which helps to prevent nappy rash. They’re also extremely convenient – once they’re soiled, you just roll them up, place in a nappy sack and throw them away.
Reusable nappies are less absorbent but can be more cost-effective – they can be re-used over and over again. To avoid nappy rash, simply change them more regularly.
Changing mats are a comfortable and hygienic place to change your baby’s nappy. Choose one that is washable.
Baby changing tips:
- Unfasten the soiled nappy, hold baby’s legs up by the ankles and remove the nappy, placing it out of baby’s reach
- Use cotton balls, or baby wipes to wipe your baby clean from front to back (wiping back to front can spread bacteria).
- For boys, it’s best to place a dry nappy over the penis during changing as exposure to air can cause boys to urinate. When clean, place the penis downwards before fastening the nappy to prevent leaks at the waistline
- Fold the waistline of the nappy under the umbilical cord
- Clean and disinfect the changing mat and surfaces after every use
- Always wash your hands well after changing your baby’s nappy to help prevent the spread of germs
- Seal used disposable nappies in a plastic bag or nappy sack and take straight to an outdoor rubbish bin
- Wash reusable nappies separately to other clothing. Remove any solid material from the nappy using a tissue and discard to the toilet. Then wash the nappy on a prewash cycle followed by a hot wash (greater than 60°C).
Nappy changing is a big part of being a new mum. If your baby’s nappy is continuously wet or changed infrequently it can result in nappy rash.
To treat nappy rash at home:
- Change the nappy frequently and use a bigger size to help prevent chafing
- Wash your baby’s bottom with water after every change; avoid using soap
- Gently pat your baby dry with a soft towel – don’t rub
- Apply a nappy rash cream or ointment recommended by your Health Care Professional
- Let your baby go without a nappy for a while to get some air to their bottom
Once healed, consider regularly using ointment as a moisture barrier against nappy rash. Use sparingly so as not to clog the nappy.