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How to change a disposable nappy

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Baby video


See the NHS video "How do I change a dirty nappy?" for more information

 

Your step-by-step guide to changing a nappy

You'll need

  • A change mat
  • Nappy sacks or nappy disposal bin
  • Baby wipes or cotton wool and water
  • Nappy cream - eg Sudocrem, E45 Nappy Cream
  • Nappies
  • Antibacterial cleaner spray
  1. Make sure you have everything within reach before you start the nappy change so you don't need to nip out and get something - you should never leave your baby unattended, especially between 3 and 6 months when they learn to roll over. Gently lay your baby down on the change mat, supporting his head if necessary.
  2. Either undress your baby or, if you're not changing his clothes as well as his nappy, undo your baby's clothes on the lower half and tuck them well out of the way.
  3. Pull back the two tabs that fasten the nappy at the front and wait moment. The sensation of fresh air on your baby may make them wee and if you've got a boy, he may wee on himself, the changing mat or you!
  4. Hold both of your baby's ankles in one hand and lift his legs and bottom up gently so you can take the old nappy away with the other hand. Lower his legs to the mat and either roll up the nappy, securing it with the tabs and put in a nappy sack, or pop it in the nappy disposal bin.
  5. It's clean up time! Use baby wipes, or water and cotton wool, to give him a thorough but gentle clean, including his genitals (but don't pull back the foreskin). For girls, always wipe from front to back to minimise the risk of a bladder infection. Put the dirty wipes or cotton wool in the nappy sack with the dirty nappy or the disposal bin.
  6. If he's happy and you're not in a hurry, let him kick about to give his legs some exercise and get some fresh air on his bottom.
  7. Put a smear of nappy cream on his bottom if he needs it, then take a clean nappy in one hand, hold both of his ankles in the other hand and lift his legs and bottom up gently so you can put the unfolded clean nappy underneath his bottom.
  8. Pull the front of the nappy up to his tummy and press the nappy tabs down on the front to fasten so the nappy fits securely enough to stop leaks but isn't uncomfortably tight. Run your fingers round each leg cuff to make sure the elastic isn't snagged or pulled back as this can cause leaks too.
  9. Refasten his clothes or put clean ones on and he's good to go.
  10. Give the change mat a spritz of antibacterial spray and a good wipe down after each nappy change then wash your hands thoroughly.

Tips

  • If you don't have the space in your bedroom or nursery, you don't need to splash out on a changing unit - a cot top changer or change mat on the floor do the job just as well. 
  • Keep a roll of kitchen towel handy at change time - great for mopping up any spills and cleaning up after. 
  • Some babies - especially newborns - don't like the feel of the change mat on bare skin, so place an old towel over it to make it a bit more comfortable. 
  • Keep a nightlight or torch near the change mat for nappy changes at night so you can see what you're doing but don't wake the baby up too much with bright light. 
  • Most nappies have different designs on the front than the back - but every sleep-deprived parent has tried to put one on back to front at least once!
  • Some nappies, including Tesco Newborn, now have a wetness indicator to let you know when your baby's nappy needs changing and a clever umbilical cut-away design for newborns. 
  • If your baby is older and won't stop kicking, rolling over or crawling off at change time, a pull-up nappy may come in handy as a last resort even though they're not potty training.
Some babies - especially newborns - don't like the feel of the change mat on bare skin, so place an old towel over it to make it a bit more comfortable.