Keep your baby's bum healthy with a few simple measures.
Diapering your baby may seem like a no-brainer: Off with the old, toss it, and on with the new. But considering that newborns typically need six to 10 diaper changes a day—more, if you’re using cloth diapers—the decision about what type of diapers to use is an important one. Cost, convenience and your baby’s needs are issues to consider when making the decision.
Choosing cloth> Cloth diapers remain the most popular for ardent environmentalists, although separate studies by A.C. Nielsen and Bruno and Ridgway Research and Associates Inc. show that less than 10 percent of U.S. households are making this choice. But there are other reasons besides the environment to choose cloth. Theresa Rodriguez Farrisi, a mother of six and the author of Diaper Changes: The Complete Diapering Book and Resource (Homekeepers Publishing, 1998), chose cloth because she believes it is more comfortable for the baby. She says that cloth is also easier than many people think, due to products such as pinless diaper covers that hold the diaper securely in place. Regardless, Farrisi notes, parents should make the choice based on what works best for their lifestyle. For more on cloth diapers, support and supplies, Baby Works and Natural Baby Catalog are great resources.
Choosing disposables>The convenience of disposables is the obvious attraction for time-pressed parents. Another benefit: There are now disposable diapers for virtually every need, including swimming, a slim fit and overnight use. Most have a chemical filling that turns into beads of gel when wet, which increases absorbency and helps keep the baby’s skin dry. There are also chemical-free disposables on the market.
The basics>Cloth and disposable each have their merits. Whichever you choose, it’s important to get your diapering technique down. Also, remember that dry skin is healthy skin, as wet skin quickly becomes fragile and vulnerable. Maurice Chianese, M.D., a pediatrician in Lake Success, N.Y., suggests that parents use clear water instead of wipes, which can be harsh on a newborn’s skin, and to pat the baby’s bottom dry instead of rubbing. (You can start using wipes at about 6 weeks if you prefer.) The key to avoiding diaper rash? “Change that diaper!” Chianese says. He recommends every two hours or whenever the baby has a bowel movement. Applying a thick layer of an over-the-counter ointment, such as Balmex or Vaseline, also can help. And if you feel as if you’re drowning in diapers, it may help to remember that you’re not alone: The average parent will diaper her baby a whopping 2,200 times in the child’s first year of life.
How to diaper a baby>Follow these steps and you’ll soon be a pro.
- Keep supplies close at hand—diapers, cotton balls or washcloths, warm water in a pump thermos, ointment, a change of clothes and a toy to entertain baby.
- Place the baby on the changing table, put your hand on her and don’t let go until you’re finished. Talk to her throughout to keep her calm.
- Lift the baby’s ankles and wipe. (For boys: Cover the penis with a cloth. For girls: Wipe from front to back.) Slide the soiled diaper out and replace with a new one before you release the legs.
- Apply ointment if needed, fasten the diaper loosely—circulating air helps prevent diaper rash—and you’re done.