Changing your baby
Babies need their nappies changed fairly often, or else they will become sore. Unless your baby is sleeping peacefully, always change a wet or dirty nappy and change your baby before or after each feed.
Where to change your baby's nappy
Organise a place where you change your baby so that everything you need is there. The best place to change a nappy is on a changing mat or a towel, or on the floor, especially if you have more than one baby.
That way, if you take your eye off your baby for a moment to look after another child, your baby cannot fall and get hurt.
Try to sit down so you don’t hurt your back. If you are using a changing table, keep an eye on your baby at all times.
How to change a nappy
You need to clean your baby carefully each time you change a nappy to help prevent soreness and nappy rash.
When changing your baby’s nappy, you should;
- wash your hands before and after changing your baby
- take off the nappy and wipe away any mess from your baby using cotton wool
- wash your baby’s bottom and genitals with cotton wool and warm water and dry thoroughly – for girls, wipe away from the vagina, and for boys gently clean the foreskin of the penis
- if their bottom is red, use a cream such as zinc and castor oil which can form a waterproof coating to protect the skin – use this sparingly as cream can prevent the nappy from absorbing urine
- if you are using a cloth nappy, place it in a waterproof cover and put a nappy liner inside – lay your baby on the nappy, fasten it and check that it fits snuggly around the waist and legs
- if you are using a disposable nappy, put the side with the sticky tape under your baby’s bottom and fasten the tapes at the front – be careful not to get cream on the tabs or they will not stick
It is important to dispose of any used nappies hygienically to protect your baby’s health.
If the nappy is dirty, flush the contents down the toilet. Roll up the nappy and re-tape it securely and put it in a plastic bag. Don’t put anything but nappies in this bag. Fasten it and put it in your bin every day.
If the nappy is dirty, flush the contents down the toilet. Biodegradable, flushable nappy liners are available to make it easy.
Have a bucket with a lid ready to store the dirty nappies. You can soak them in nappy cleanser or just store them here until you have a load ready for washing.
Wash nappies as soon as possible. Follow the care instructions on your nappies, but a 60ºC wash is usually okay.
If you did not soak the nappies before, add an antibacterial nappy cleanser to your normal washing detergent, following the instructions on the packet. Don’t use enzyme washing powders or fabric conditioner, as these may irritate your baby’s skin and make the nappy less absorbent.
Make sure you use the right amount of detergent and rinse thoroughly. Always keep nappy sacks, other plastic bags and wrapping away from babies and buy in a roll if possible.
Most babies get a sore bottom or have nappy rash at some time, but some have extra-sensitive skin. Nappy rashes are caused by contact between sensitive skin and soiled nappies.
If you notice redness or spots, clean your baby very carefully and change their nappies more often. Better still, give your baby time without a nappy and let the air get to their skin. Keep a spare nappy handy to mop up any accidents. You will soon see the rash start to get better.
If your baby does have a rash, ask your midwife or health visitor about it. They may advise you to use a protective cream. If the rash seems to be painful and will not go away, see your health visitor or GP.
Immediately after birth and for the first few days, your baby is likely to pass a sticky, greenish-black substance. This is called meconium and is the waste that has collected in your baby’s bowels while they were in your womb.
As your baby begins to digest milk, their stools will change. They will become more yellow or orange and can be quite a bright colour. Breastfed babies have quite runny stools. Formula fed babies are firmer and smell more.
Babies vary a lot in how often they pass stools. Some have a bowel movement at or around each feed, some can go several days without a movement. Either can be normal, but most breastfed babies produce at least one stool a day for the first six weeks.
When to get help
Most small babies strain and go red in the face, or even cry, when passing a stool. This is normal and doesn’t mean they are constipated as long as the stools are soft. If you are worried that your baby may be constipated, mention this to your midwife or health visitor.
What you find in your baby’s nappies will probably vary from day to day and there is usually no need to worry. Ask your doctor, midwife or health visitor if you notice any big changes, such as stools;
- becoming very frequent and watery
- having a very strong smell
- changing colour to become green, white or creamy or if you notice any blood