If you’re doing disposables, this is a great entry-level article for you, with a list of products we actually used as well as techniques. If you’re doing cloth (or just considering it), you can read that article her which I wrote recently. This article was written in 2013 and has been updated.  If you’re thinking about cloth diapering (which we love), I have a Cloth Diapering 101 article you must read!

Before I was a mother, I had never changed a diaper.  Seriously.  And luckily, my infant care class taught me how to change diapers on a plastic baby doll.  But when you have a squirming, screaming baby at 2am, threatening to shower you with everything they’ve got left, classes and baby dolls aren’t a whole lot of help.  Welcome to trial and error… at its finest.  (Or messiest, whatever).

Here are my recommendations for products and processes to keep you and Baby clean and happy.

I have affiliate links in this article – these are products I love and use in my home.

The Stuff

If you’re expecting, I’m sure that you have been told that you ABSOLUTELY NEED about a thousand gadgets and things for your baby, including for diaper changing.  Lemme tell you, you don’t!  We bashfully returned a whole bunch of stuff which went unused after little one was born.  Now, nine months later, here’s what we’re still using…

our changing table, stocked up and ready

our changing table, stocked up and ready

Ok, ok, so a diaper changing table isn’t COMPLETELY necessary… but it really does help to not have to lay Baby down on your dresser, the bed, *ahem* the floor… What I did find unnecessary was a piece of furniture which only works as a changing table, so we got one that has built-in storage, and serves multiple purposes.  We plan to remove the changing pad and put a fish tank or something up there when our son grows out of diapers.  We have an awesome changing table by Summer Infant which matches the rest of our furniture.  We use the shelf for diapers, bibs, etc and the drawers for his outfits.  Our system has worked out really well!

I know some people might think that it’s unnecessary and extravagant, but I don’t care.  I wanted a wipe warmer.  I hate the idea of grabbing a cold wet wipe in the wee hours of the morning – imagine how that would feel on your half-asleep behind!  We have been very happy with our Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer.  It was an easy grab for someone off of our registry, and three years later it still works just fine.

Diapering 101: Disposables - RealSimpleMama

Creams and Powders

We honestly have never used any of this.  There have been recent health concerns about babies breathing in baby powder, so we got rid of any that had been gifted to us.  We like products by Aquaphor (Baby Healing Ointment), but we just use good ole coconut oil for dry skin, chafing, or diaper rash.

coconut oil and Aquaphor

coconut oil and Aquaphor

If you do want to add something to your baby’s bum, make sure that it’s baby-safe, and I recommend going as natural as possible.  Things with a ton of scent in them, for example, can be irritating to baby’s skin. So be sensitive and aware of the possible culprits if you notice your baby breaking out.  And of course, the best way to prevent diaper rash in the first place is to keep Baby nice and dry!  That means punctual diaper changes! (Antibiotics will often cause a flare-up in diaper rashes, as they essentially kill all the bacteria in your baby’s system – which includes the good bacteria as well as the bad.  The only time our son had a rash, this was the cause).

Wipes and Diapers

We did feel that it was worth it to invest in a wipe warmer (see above) – it sits right next to the changing table and has a little light.  (Note: for warmers and wipe holders, you want to buy the wipes that are folded interlockingly, so that you continuously have them being fed out for you to pull).  Totally up to you if you think it’s worth it – remember that will involve you having a power outlet nearby, etc.  But I do like it!

We initially tried diapers and wipes from The Honest Company (founded by Jessica Alba… yes, the actress!) and really liked them.  They don’t smell like chemicals, they come in cute patterns, and they had great absorbency.  The wipes were mediocre, but then the formula was changed and the new ones were much better – and the customer service was awesome!  However, it was near $100/month for this brand, and eventually we decided it wasn’t worth it.

Now we use Target brand – if you have the Target Red Card, you get free shipping, and we spend about half as much as we did with Honest.  I feel kind of bad that the Target ones supposedly aren’t as environmentally friendly, but double the price is hard when both parents are teachers!  (If I could afford it, I would definitely go back though).

Look for any brand which has the color-changing stripe: this strip down the crotch of the diaper is yellow when dry, blue when wet. No more sniffing baby butts to see if it’s time for a change!

note the color-changing strip

note the color-changing strip

In regards to wipes, we look for two things: interlocking, and fragrance free. Interlocking means like a nice box of tissues, that consecutive wipes will be pulled out as you go. I get absolutely irate when I need to clean up a messy blowout and the wipes don’t continue out of the package! Agh! And as far as fragrance, I don’t feel that it helps the smell of bodily fluids, nor do I like the idea of additional chemicals just to make my baby’s bum smell like cucumber. So we skip all that and go for the simplest, most natural ones we can find.

And who could forget a diaper pail?  This is great if you don’t have time to take out the trash every day.  It also really helps with odors. We were gifted the Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Pail (ooh la la) and use generic refills.  The infinity bag inside will individually wrap each diaper so you don’t smell anything; we have to empty ours out 1-2x a week, and have never had any issues.  We also got baking soda dispensers to stick on the inside of the lid, and with the foot pedal you never have to touch anything with your hands!

I’ve since done a comparison review on my two diaper pails: the Elite and the Dekor. You can see that here.

The Technique

Changing diapers will be something you will master – after all, they say that newborns go through 10-14 a day.  (Don’t do the math, it’s depressing).  You should definitely develop a consistent system, which will help you be the most efficient.  Here’s mine!

Belt ‘Em Down!

Use the safety belt which comes on the changing pad – as your baby gets older, they’ll squirm and flip and do acrobatics.  You don’t want them ending up on the floor!

Keep the baby distracted

Sometimes just singing and acting stupid will help, and sometimes you need the help of a toy or two.  I keep one right at the changing table.

Open Up the Diaper First

Before you undo anything or take anything off of baby’s bum, have the new diaper ready to go.  A lot of people lay the clean diaper under the old one that’s about to get taken off – I personally don’t do this, but to each their own.

diaper open (back - front)

diaper open (back – front)

Especially if I’m somewhere other than at home, I pull out the wipes I’ll need before taking the old diaper off.  Again, have your baby butt-naked for as little time as possible!

When you’re ready, undo each velcro side of the diaper – you can stick it back onto itself, or just leave it undone.  Open it up and face your fate…

Which Way to Wipe?

For boys, it doesn’t really matter – just make sure you get in all the crevices and completely clean everything.

For girls, you HAVE to wipe front to back.  (You don’t want poop to get in her vagina, as this can cause lots of issues).  Put the wipes in the dirty diaper and be prepared to roll them all up together.

If you’re applying diaper cream, pat the baby dry with a washcloth or tissue – diaper creams create a protective barrier, and if you seal moisture in you’re just making the issue worse!

Go Go Go!

Get the dirty wipes and diaper out of your way, and secure the new diaper.  Make sure both of your velcro flaps are securely done, the diaper is centered left-to-right, and both of baby’s cheeks are in the diaper.  The folds which go lengthwise along the outside of the diaper should be facing away from baby, too.

Finish dressing your baby back up with snaps, zippers, pants, etc.  Viola – you’re done!

A side note

Especially with young babies, I would be sure to track the number of wet and poopy diapers every day.  The goal once your baby is over a week old, is at least 6 wet diapers every 24 hours.  Poopy diapers vary – especially in breastfed babies like my son, he could go days without a poop and nothing is wrong!  We use an app to track diapers – that way if our baby is sick, we have a record to show his pediatrician.  (You can also track all sorts of icky details about poop: color, frequency, etc). Go crazy.

Tell us how you diaper! Any funny stories to tell? (Cmon, we all have at least one…)