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Newborn Baby

diapering baby

Taking Care of Your Newborn

Diapering Your Baby

How to change your baby's diaper

  1. Gather the following before laying your baby down:
  • a diaper

    Watch two short videos on how to change a diaper.How do I change my baby's diaper?
    Source: Trillium Health Care

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  • a small washcloth
  • warm water
  • petroleum jelly
  • diaper cream (zinc oxide)
  • baby/diaper wipes
  1. Unfold the tabs on the new diaper. Place the new diaper under your baby's bottom with the tabs sticking out the side just above your baby's waist. (This way, if your baby pees or poos while you're changing him, you'll catch it in the new diaper.)

  2. Remove the old diaper and place it out of your baby's reach.

  3. Wet the washcloth in the warm water and wipe your baby's bottom, starting at the front then moving towards the back. Rinse the washcloth under warm running water at a sink and repeat as needed.

  4. Let your baby's bottom air dry for a few minutes. (If you don't have time to air dry, take a small towel and gently pat your baby's bottom dry.)

  5. Lift the top portion of the new diaper through your baby's legs and secure the tabs on each side. (If you're diapering a baby boy, remember to point his penis down so you don't get sprayed!)

  6. If your newborn's umbilical cord is still attached, fold the front of the diaper over once before securing the tabs. This wil keep the cord stump exposed to the air.

  7. Place your baby in a safe location while you wash your hands.

Avoid diaper rash by changing your baby's diaper every three to four hours or when it's wet or soiled (has a bowel movement (poo) in it). If you're using cloth diapers you might need to change diapers more often.

Don't use baby powder or talc on your baby's bottom: it can cause breathing problems or lung damage if he breathes it in.

Urine and bowel movements (pees and poos)

How often should my baby be peeing/pooing?

Follow our helpful guide to see how many wet (pee) and soiled (poo) diapers your baby should be having within the first few days and weeks of life.

(If your baby's diaper is wet (pee) and soiled (poo) when you remove it, count that diaper as one wet diaper and one soiled diaper.)

What should my newborn's poos look like?

Signs of Dehydration

See your doctor right away if your baby:

  • Is over 5 days old and has less than 6 wet diapers in 24 hours.
  • Has dark yellow urine (pee).
  • Is still passing meconium - dark bowel movements (poop) - on day 3 or later.
  • Has a dry mouth, lips, or tongue.
  • Has a weight loss of more than 10% in the first few days.
  • Has a fever.
Your baby's first poo will be black and tarry (called Meconium)
transitional stool
Transitional Stool (poo) (after meconium is passed)

Your baby's poos will change in colour and texture often, depending on his age and what he's eating.

Diaper rash: when to call the doctor

Call your doctor if your baby's diaper rash:

  • Doesn't clear up after 3 days.
  • Has spread to a larger area, up the abdomen, or down the legs
  • Has pus (a yellow discharge).
  • Is accompanied by a fever.

Diaper rash

Diaper rash is a red skin irritation on your baby's bottom caused by wet and soiled diapers.

A rash that lasts longer than a few days might be caused by a type of yeast called candida (Candida albicans).

Candida happens naturally in our intestines without making us sick; however, if candida overgrows it can cause a rash.

A candida rash is usually very red with small red spots close to larger, more defined patches.

Have your baby checked by your family doctor if you think his diaper rash is caused by candida.

Preventing diaper rash

  • Change your baby's diaper at least every three to four hours. If you're using cloth diapers, change the diapers more often.

  • Let the skin on your baby's bottom air dry completely after cleaning or gently pat his skin dry with a cloth. Don't rub your baby's skin with a cloth, as this can irritate his skin.

  • Put the diaper on loosely to avoid your baby's skin from rubbing against the diaper.

  • If your baby's diapers are too tight, use a larger-sized diaper.

  • To avoid skin irritation, use only alcohol-free and unscented diaper wipes.

  • Wash cloth diapers in only dye-free and fragrance-free detergents.

Treating diaper rash

If your baby has a diaper rash:

  • Wash his bottom with only warm water and mild soap. If the diaper is only wet, use only warm water. Don't use baby/diaper wipes, as they can further irritate your baby's skin.

  • Give him a warm bath to help ease his discomfort.

  • Let his bottom air dry completely after a diaper change.

  • Give him "naked time" by letting him go diaper-free at various times during the day. This exposes your baby's bottom to the air, which can speed healing. Be sure to place a towel or blanket underneath your baby to avoid any accidents.

  • Try a zinc oxide cream to help soothe his skin and provide a barrier against moisture. Apply the cream when your baby's skin is completely dry. Wipe off the cream at each diaper change and then reapply.

  • Don't use baby powder or talc on your baby's bottom: it can cause breathing problems or lung damage if he breathes it in.

  • Contact your doctor if the rash doesn't clear up in two to three days.

More diapering information

Nemours' KidsHealth


At the Hospital | Preparing For Baby | The First Few Days | What Your Newborn Will Look Like
Taking Care of Your Newborn | Taking Care of You and Your Partner

Revised: Friday October 25 2019

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