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Changing your baby’s nappy for the first time can be a daunting task for any new parent, especially if you haven’t changed a nappy before. On the ward you might like to begin by watching your nurse change your baby’s nappy. You can start to be involved by closing the tabs on the nappy and comforting your baby during the nappy change by offering a finger to hold or cupping their head.
Changing a nappy can be a two person job! Having one parent change the nappy while the other one comforts or supports the baby can be a great way for you both to learn what to do.
When getting ready to change your baby, have everything you need ready before you start the job – cotton wool and warm water, a new nappy, nappy cream if needed, a nappy sack to put the dirty nappy in and a change of clothes if needed. Speak to your nurse and ask if you need to keep the nappy for weighing or inspection.
If you notice any nappy rash that you haven’t seen before, let your nurse know. They will check the rash to make sure that there is no infection. In the case of infections, an anti-fungal cream may need to be applied.
Barrier creams should be applied thickly at nappy changes if your baby has nappy rash. This cream should contain zinc oxide, such as Sudocream, or Bepanthan Nappy Ointment. It is not necessary to remove all of the barrier cream from previous applications. If the area is clean then you can just reapply another layer. Do not use talcum powder, or any cream with fragrances or additives, such as tea tree oil.
Nappy free time is important for all babies. If possible, allow your baby to have some nappy free time each day. Encourage them to kick their legs and have some fresh air to their nappy area. Check with your nurse that this is okay.
Babies born at less than 30 weeks gestation should only have cotton wool or Rediwipes with lukewarm water used to clean the nappy area. Baby wipes should not be used.
Should you change your baby before or after a feed? When is the right time? Each baby is different, and babies will often dirty themselves during or just after a feed. If your baby is often dirty after a feed, to avoid the disturbance of having to change their nappy twice it would be better to change your baby after the feed. If your baby has reflux, they may vomit if they are moved too much with a full tummy, so you might like to change them before a feed.
Boys can have great aim when you remove their nappy. Be ready to position their penis to point down to avoid spraying you, their clothes and the bed linen! Gently cleanse the area, removing any soiling but being careful not to pull back the foreskin.
When wiping your baby girl, wipe from the front to the back, towards her bottom. This is important to avoid bacterial infection. Gently clean in all the creases and bottom but avoid spreading the labia.