Bottoms Up!

Keep your baby'’s bum healthy with a few simple measures.

It’s probably the single most repetitive chore you’ll perform for your baby. And although it might seem pretty simple — off with the old, wipe, and on with the new — and experienced mothers can do it in the blink of an eye, changing diapers improperly or using the wrong type of diaper can lead to an uncomfortable rash for baby. Here’s a primer on the basics of good diapering, including the different types available.

Diaper choices

Before your baby is born, you’ll want to stock up for those first few bleary-eyed weeks. Newborns usually need six to 10 diaper changes a day. With 30 days in a month, multiplied by 12 months a year ... you get the picture.

First you’ll need to sort through diapering options, factoring in cost, convenience and your baby’s needs. For ardent environmentalists, cloth diapers remain the most popular, 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. According to Debbie Mahdessian, a Los Angeles mother of two who is deep in the cloth-diaper trenches, new mothers tend to shy away from cloth diapers because they think it is more work. “Not so,” she says. “A diaper service does everything for you — diapers are delivered once or twice a week, and you can rent wraps. Then you just have to throw the diaper in a pail, which I keep outside.”

For information and cloth diaper supplies, the catalog Biobottoms (800-766-1254) is a great resource.

The convenience of disposables is the major draw for on-the-go parents. The diapers’ chemical filling gels when wet, which increases absorbency and helps keep your baby’s skin dry.

Both cloth and disposable diapers have their merits. Whichever choice you make, it’s important to get your diapering technique down.

Changing techniques

Remember that healthy skin is dry skin; wet skin quickly becomes fragile and vulnerable to rash. (See “Ready, Set, Go” at left) Maurice Chianese, M.D, a pediatrician in Lake Success, N.Y., suggests using clear, warm water instead of wipes, which can be harsh on baby’s skin, and patting dry instead of rubbing. Applying a thick layer of an over-the-counter ointment, such as Balmex or A&D ointment, will also help.

The bottom line to keeping diaper rash at bay: “Change that diaper!” says Chianese. “It’s a matter of getting the baby in a dry diaper routinely — change the diaper every two hours.”

Diapering is a necessary chore, and one that inevitably makes your baby more comfortable. When you feel as if you’re drowning in diapers, just remember that you’re not alone: Most parents will perform a whopping 2,200 diaper changes in the first year of baby’s life.