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Performing a Proper Diaper Check

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{Jeff Marchant 2007}
Doing a proper diaper check is not art. It's simply good habits. These steps will start you on the right path for proper diaper changing technique. Why does that matter? Because good techniques make your baby (and you) cleaner, which leads to less sickness.

Below are the steps to follow to change a diaper. If you're more of a visual learner, you can skip straight to the bottom of the page for a how-to video.

If you have a baby boy, there are a few extra precautions you should take to avoid being drenched in urine. Get those tips here.

Step One

Wash your hands before starting a diaper check.

  • The easiest way to do this is to have antibacterial wash right on the changing table. You don't have to leave her side, and you're still killing germs.
  • Purchase on with a pump to make dispensing easier.
  • Don't skip this step! She can easily pick up germs (like diarrhea) from dirty hands.

Step Two

Gently lay her on the changing table or other soft, flat surface and undress her.

Step Three

Unlatch the old diaper and without removing it, use the front to wipe away any poop clinging to her skin.

Step Four

Gently grasp her ankles together with one hand and lift up her bottom (leaving her lower back on the table). Use baby wipes or a warm cloth to wash.
  • Make sure you wipe from front to back, rather than back to front. This prevents infection.
  • Regardless if you have a boy or girl, make sure you are getting into the various genital folds and getting them clean. It's amazing where a little poo can hide!
  • Don't limit yourself on wipes - use what gets the job done.
  • If your baby has sensitive skin, make sure to use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, or even homemade wipes.

Step Five

Slide a clean diaper under the messy one, with the tape of the clean diaper under her bottom.

Step Six

Grab her ankles again and gently raise her bottom in the air.

Fold the messy diaper over and pull it out (putting the dirty wipes inside).

Step Seven

Adjust the diaper so it is centered under her bottom and the tape lines up with her waist.
  • Almost all disposables have two "fringes" near the leg.
  • Make sure one fringe is touching her skin and the other is facing up, not tucked in. This is a second protection against leaks.
  • Unless you use them this way, you may end up with a nasty surprise on your lap!

Step Eight

If her bottom looks red and irritated during the diaper check, apply any diaper rash cream or other remedy if necessary.
  • The area needs to be dry before resealing the diaper to prevent diaper rash.
  • Wait a few seconds for her to air-dry.
  • If you don't want to wait, use baby powder. Put it in your hand first before applying to prevent clouds drifting up and getting into her lungs. This is not recommended if your baby has sensitive skin or lung problems.

Step Nine

The diaper check is almost finished! Fold up the front of the diaper and attach the tape from the sides.
  • If your baby is a newborn and still has an umbilical cord, be careful to fold down the top of the diaper before latching with tape. This will prevent chaffing.
  • Pampers makes diapers that have a small "U" shape cut out of the top for this purpose. I used them with Elena and thought they were very helpful. (Folding is very difficult with tiny babies.)
  • The diaper should be attached not too tight, not too loose, but comfortable. One of your fingers should be able to fit in between the baby and the diaper.

Step Ten

Throw the messy diaper in your diaper pail and clean your hands again with antibacterial wash.

Step Eleven

Dress her in that adorable little outfit (but not before blowing raspberries on her tummy)!

Changing a Boy's Diaper

Changing a boy's diaper isn't too different than changing a girl's, but there are a few extra precautions you should take.

  • Boys may be stimulated to urinate when their penis is exposed to the air, spraying you and everything around you.

  • It is also normal for boys to have an erection just before urination. Use this as sign you need to grab a towel and duck for cover!
  • Standing perpendicular to him, cover him loosely with a diaper or cloth (to avoid getting soaked) while cleaning his tush.
  • When you're ready to put the diaper back on, genly point his penis down, so urine won't accidently seep through the top of the diaper.

Both of my girls would pee all over everything the moment the air touched their skin, so this habit isn't always just for boys! Changer beware!

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The diaper check is one of the most routine parts of being a mother.

You will complete roughly 5,000 diaper checks before toliet training. Now that you've read this article, it will be 5,000 proper diaper checks.

Here's a visual aid to help you better understands the steps outlined above.

All the photos on this page can be found at and were used
according to licensing requirements.

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