How To: Change a Diaper Efficiently

by Elaine on November 29, 2006 · 10 comments

in Family,HowTo,Parenting,Popular

I have changed thousands of diapers between my two children and all the babies I worked with as a NICU nurse. I have a neat and efficient diaper changing system. I have taught my husband, and he believes other people would benefit from learning my technique as well.

STEP 1: Choose your changing area

  • Should be a flat stable surface such as a changing table, a couch, a bed, or even the floor
  • Line the changing area with a lap pad, baby blanket, disposable changing pad, etc. for a clean changing surface

STEP 2: Prep all the supplies: diaper, wipes, creams, etc.

  • Open up the clean diaper
  • Remove 1-2 wipes, keep the rest nearby just in case
  • Pre-load the diaper with A&D ointment, Desitin, etc. if necessary. Add 1/2-1 inch strip to the center of the open diaper
  • If you are changing your baby’s clothes as well, have all the new clothes within reach

STEP 3: Prep your baby

  • Give your baby something to look at or play with (can be a toy, a picture, a mirror, or even your face!)
  • Lay your baby on his back on the changing surface
  • Remove all clothing covering the diaper area
  • Unfasten the Velcro or stickers holding the diaper closed
  • Fold the straps onto themselves so they don’t get stuck to anything

STEP 4: Change the diaper Be quick here, you don’t want to get a golden shower!

  • Slowly pull the top of the diaper open towards your baby’s feet
  • Hold up your baby’s butt slightly by lifting up his ankles with one hand
  • Check for poop. If poop is present, gently remove the bulk of it by wiping your baby’s butt with the part of the diaper that was covering his belly. By doing this, you will reduce the number of wipes used to clean him up.
  • Tuck the used diaper in half under your baby. All of the poop and pee should be contained inside the dirty diaper at this point.
  • Your baby should now be lying on his back with the used diaper underneath him. Why keep the dirty diaper under baby during cleaning? To catch any additional “deposits” your baby might make during cleaning!
  • Clean your baby thoroughly with baby wipes. Drop the used wipe on top of the used diaper, and repeat until clean
    • For girls, wipe from front to back, using a clean part of the wipe or a new wipe with each stroke
    • For boys with foreskin, gently pull back the foreskin and clean gently
    • For boys with a fresh circumcision site, apply petroleum jelly after cleaning
    • For newborns with cord still attached, squeeze a few drops of alcohol onto the cord stump
  • Remove the used diaper and wipes from under your baby’s bottom, set aside (out of your baby’s reach)
  • Replace quickly with the new diaper, keeping the fasteners toward your baby’s back
  • If diaper cream was pre-applied, rub it onto your baby’s skin with the diaper
  • Pull the front of the diaper over your baby’s belly and hold it snug
  • Gently open the fasteners from the back and secure them over the front of the diaper
  • Re-adjust the fasteners as needed

STEP 5: Replace your baby’s clothes

  • Don’t forget to refasten all those snaps and buttons.

STEP 6: Dispose of dirty diaper

  • Discard the dirty diaper and wipes in a diaper pail, garbage can, etc. Enclose in a plastic baggie to contain the smell, if desired.

STEP 7: Wash your hands

  • If soap is not available, use an antibacterial gel such as Purell.
Remember to never leave your baby unattended,
especially when on a changing table.

I hope this article helps you decrease the amount of time it takes for you to change a diaper. It is all about preparation and expecting the unexpected.

What is your diaper changing technique? Please feel free to share yours in the comments section below.


1 Eugene December 22, 2006 at 8:27 pm

That’s good advice. Isn’t there a way to hold the baby’s legs and shield yourself from the pee with one hand?

2 Elaine December 25, 2006 at 10:34 pm

Hi Eugene,

Glad you liked the article. You can try to shield your face with the hand you’re holding baby’s legs with: hold baby’s ankles in between your fingers, then when you lift the legs, use your palm to block the line of fire. This also blocks your field of view, so it only works if you don’t need to do a lot of cleaning.

In a month or two, you’ll be able to test out all this advice for yourself! Best wishes to you and Sarah! I’m looking forward to meeting my niece when she arrives!


3 soph January 30, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Thanks for the tips! I was having some problems deciding how to get rid of the unflushable baby wipes. :) Just a couple of things: youre not supposed to pull back a newborns foreskin. You just gradually gently pull it only if it goes and wipe what you can see. You dont want a load of new parent trying to pull back a babys foreskin! Also the use of alcohol on the cord stump is under some debate – as the alcohol actually kills new cells, and apprently soapy water or even plain water do the job just as well.

4 Elaine January 31, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Soph, you brought up several good points, thanks. 1) Foreskin should be gently pulled back to clean during diaper changes and baths. Forcing it all the way or pulling roughly can cause pain and bleeding in a sensitive area. 2) Some doctors and hospitals are no longer recommending alcohol for the cord.

5 mystery woman March 2, 2007 at 3:51 pm

this really helped me out but, one thing I would
like to say is when you undo the tabs and fold them
down a more better way not to get sprayed when u open the diaper and pull it down to your baby’s legs is to put a cloth on the penis of your baby and close the legs so it will hold it then start with the rest of the diaper change

6 Kerri-Anne April 25, 2008 at 2:36 pm

“For boys with foreskin, gently pull back the foreskin and clean gently”

A little better advice would be to treat the uncircumcised penis as a finger. Just wipe the outside as you would wash your finger. Even gently retraction can cause trama.

I have two intact boys and never had a problem!

7 Elaine April 30, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Kerri-Anne, thank you for pointing that out. I did address it in a reply to Soph previously.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists some more info here:

8 komodo dragon June 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm

from an experienced mom’s point of view … nice tips!

9 Genesis Bible June 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm

I’ll bet .. over a thousand of diapers ! you are indeed an expert!

10 enith August 22, 2008 at 12:28 am

Nice tips but you should change the ‘gently pull back the foreskin’ thing in the actual entry. You should clean it like a finger, only the owner of the penis should pull back or retract his penis.

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