Your complete guide to baby changing

For new mothers out there, the thought of nappy changing can seem a bit scary and daunting. However, it is an easy enough task, and with practice, you’ll soon become an expert! Being prepared is the key…

What nappies should you use?

First, decide on what nappies you are going to use. This is a personal choice where there are no right or wrong answers. To help you decide, here is a guide to different types of nappies.

  • Disposable nappies are fantastic for convenience, absorb moisture quickly to prevent leaks, and ‘lock it in’ to keep baby dry. They are easy to use, quick to fasten, stay closed during use and fit various shapes and sizes. They are available in newborn to jumbo toddler sizes and pull-up varieties for toilet training time. On the downside, most are not eco-friendly, contributing to landfill that takes centuries to decompose. Eco-friendly varieties are available but at a higher price tag.
  • Reusable modern cloth nappies (MCNs) are increasing in popularity with over 200 brands available. They feature a water-resistant cover, leak-proof elasticised leg holes and absorbent padding and liner.
  • Older style terry-towelling square nappies are also available. They can take a little getting used to with folding and fitting, but are a much more economical option than MCNs and modern fasteners eliminate the need for safety pins.

When deciding on a nappy, consider your household budget, convenience, performance, options for when you are out and about, environmental impact, your lifestyle and your baby’s needs. Don’t be afraid to try a few different types before you find one that you prefer.

What other products do you need?

When it comes to changing your baby’s nappy, you need to ensure you have a safe place to do so, such as a change table, bed or changing mat. You also need a clean nappy to replace the soiled one, plus wet wipes to clean baby’s bottom and nappy area, and nappy sacks for the soiled nappies. Most are biodegradable and fragranced to neutralise odours. These are the essentials, but you might also want to buy:

  • Powder to absorb excess wetness and help to keep baby’s skin dry and soft. For example, Johnson’s Baby Powder – Pure Cornstarch with Aloe and Vitamin E.
  • Nappy rash cream. Constant moisture, friction, the acidity of a bowel movement and urine, can all irritate baby’s delicate skin. For example, Sudocrem Healing Cream or Curash Medicated nappy rash cream both contain soothing Zinc Oxide.
  • Barrier cream to lock in moisture and prevent nappy rash. For example, Ego QV Baby barrier cream, Lucas Paw Paw ointment or Coconut oil are good choices.
  • A face washer can be handy to have to cover baby in the event of an accident whilst changing. It will absorb moisture and prevent any spraying from little boys.
  • Hand sanitiser is good so that you can clean your hands afterwards without leaving baby unattended.

How to change your baby

When it comes to changing, make sure you have everything you need on hand before you begin. This way, you will not leave baby unattended at any time. Now you have all the basics ready… here is a step-by-step guide to changing your baby.

  1. Lay baby down on the change table, mat or bed.
  2. Remove baby’s clothes.
  3. Untape the soiled nappy but do not remove just yet.
  4. Clean the nappy area with a wet wipe. For little girls, wipe front to back to prevent the spread of any bacteria which may cause infection. Thoroughly clean between skin folds.
  5. Gently lift baby’s legs up and slide out the soiled nappy from underneath. Replace with a clean nappy.
  6. Apply any lotions, powder, nappy rash cream or barrier creams as directed by your healthcare professional.
  7. Pull the front of the nappy through baby’s legs. Use one hand to gently hold the nappy against baby’s stomach. Use the other hand to secure the nappy tape at baby’s side. Repeat with the other hand.
  8. Check that the nappy is not too tight or too lose by sliding two fingers in the top front of the nappy.
  9. Re-dress baby.
  10. Wash your hands and you are good to go!

How often should you change your baby?

Babies urinate approximately 20 times per day for the first few months. It is not necessary to change after every urination, but try to aim for a change every 2-3 hours. Check with your fingers every couple of hours for wetness, but be mindful not to wake a baby to change a wet nappy, instead change as soon as possible after baby wakes.

On average, newborns need up to 12 changes a day. It is a good idea to change either before or after each feed and as soon as possible after a poo.


  • Never leave baby unattended at any time on a change table or a bed. They may roll off within seconds.
  • As baby grows, it is a good idea to give them something to hold. This distracts baby and minimises any interference with the changing process.
  • Make changing time a fun routine… most babies respond well to routine and it is also a chance to reinforce bonding.
  • Give baby some nappy-free time to allow air to circulate around baby’s bottom.

About the author

Louise Allen is a naturopath and employee of Pharmacy 4 Less.

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