Changing a nappy for the first time may feel be a bit scary, but you’ll soon get the hang of things and be changing them like a ‘pro’ – several times a day!

Nappies come in two basic forms – reusable and disposable. Have a think about the type of nappy you want to use. You may want to consider factors such as the cost and how environmentally friendly or convenient they are. It’s also a good idea to try a few different types to see if you like using them.


Types of nappies

There are quite a few different types of reusable nappies available now, including:

Disposable nappies come in a range of age and pack sizes, and are usually made of a plastic (waterproof) outer layer with a soft, super-absorbent inner lining. There are also biodegradable versions, made of materials such as paper pulp or bamboo, that decompose more quickly than the ordinary disposable nappies.

Cloth squares – made from a variety of soft absorbent materials (such as cotton, hemp or bamboo), are fastened with pins or clips and need a leak-proof cover.

Pocket nappies – have a ‘pocket’ sewn into a leak-proof outer cover where a removeable absorbent ‘insert’ is placed.

All-in-ones – have the absorbent layer sewn into the leak-proof cover and are fasted with clips, studs or Velcro.


Changing nappies – Getting ready

Make sure you have everything you need ready to hand before you start changing the nappy. The sorts of things you will need include:

  • A clean nappy (a pre-folded cloth nappy with the clips/pins or a disposable nappy)
  • Cotton wool balls and warm water, baby lotion or wipes to clean baby’s bottom
  • Barrier cream (in case your baby has nappy rash)
  • A change of clothes (in case their nappy has leaked)
  • Something to put the dirty nappy in (e.g., a plastic bag or bucket)


Changing nappies – Step-by-Step

  1. Start by remembering to wash your hands and have everything you need to hand
  2. You can use a change table (but keep an eye on your baby at all times so they don’t fall) or spread a cloth or mat out on the floor
  3. Loosen or take your baby’s clothing off, so you can easily change the nappy
  4. Undo the dirty nappy and fold back (covering the dirty area up) and then clean and dry your baby’s bottom (if they are a boy clean around the testicles and penis, you don’t have to pull back the foreskin; clean girls from front to back). Apply barrier cream if needed
  5. Securely fasten the new nappy in place and redress your baby
  6. The dirty nappy then needs to be hygienically disposed of – disposable nappies can be wrapped up securely in a plastic bag and put in the bin, while reusable nappies can be stored in a nappy bin ready for washing (or collection by a laundry service)
  7. Remember to wash your hands again when finished.


Nappy changing FAQs


Generally, nappies are changed about every 3 to 4 hours (about 6 to 8 times a day) or when they are dirty.


There is usually no need, unless the nappy is wet or dirty. The less activity at night the better as it may interfere with your baby going back to sleep.


Completely clean and dry the skin during nappy changes, and try applying a barrier cream (containing zinc oxide) – but avoid using talcum powder or creams with fragrances.

Talk to your early childhood nurse or doctor if you are unsure about a rash or have any other concerns about changing nappies.

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