How to Change a Baby's Diaper

baby getting diaper changed
 Ruth Jenkinson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

These instructions on how to change a diaper are just for you if you've ever asked yourself, "The tabs go in the back, right?" Please note that this information is specifically geared for parents who are using or plan to use disposable diapers.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Variable

What You Need

  • diapers
  • cotton balls, baby washcloths or wipes
  • creams or ointments for rashes
  • baby lotion, if desired
  • warm water for cleansing if wipes aren't used

Steps to Changing a Babies' Diapers

  1. Make sure you have everything you need nearby to change a diaper.
  2. Lay your baby on his back on the changing surface. If you are using a changing table, it's recommended to use the safety straps.
  3. Unfasten the diaper tabs. You can raise your child's bottom off the diaper by gently grasping his ankles and lifting. If there is a lot of bowel movement present, you may want to use the upper half of the diaper to gently sweep it towards the lower half of the diaper. If you are changing a girl, make sure you always wipe from front to back to help prevent infection.
  4. Slide the diaper away from the baby and place nearby, but out of reach of baby.
  5. If your baby is a newborn, you will want to cleanse the area thoroughly with either cotton balls and warm water or with a wet baby washcloth. Wipes, especially those containing alcohol, can cause rashes and irritation until children are about two months old.
  6. Place any used disposable cleaning supplies on top of the soiled diaper.
  7. Slide a clean diaper under your baby's bottom making sure tabs are on the portion located under your child's bottom. Most diapers today have colorful markings or characters indicating the front of the diaper.
  1. Before closing the diaper, apply any ointments or creams your doctor has recommended for rashes. Doing this step after you've placed the new diaper under your baby will help prevent you from having to clean ointments off the changing surface, which can sometimes be difficult.
  2. Close the new diaper by pulling the front up over his belly and pulling the tabs open and around to the fastening surface. If you are not using specially cut newborn diapers, be sure to fold the diaper down to avoid irritation of the umbilical stump.
  3. Dispose of ​the old diaper by wrapping tabs all the way around and securing inside a bag if desired.
  4. Wash changing surface and hands. This step is especially important if your baby is ill, to avoid recontamination.


  1. Follow your doctor's instructions when caring for a healing circumcision.
  2. Take care not to make the diaper too tight. You do want to avoid leaks, however, a too-tight diaper can cause pressure on your baby's stomach making him more likely to spit up. This is especially true after feedings.
  3. If your baby has a rash that doesn't seem to be clearing up after a few days, or if he seems to be in a lot of pain and has skin that is red and raw in appearance, contact your health care provider immediately.
  4. If you are using a changing table, always make sure that you use the safety straps. Even when using the straps, never leave a child unattended on an elevated surface.
  5. Some parents don't like using a changing table. An alternative to this is to use a changing pad on the floor (about $5 at most discount stores). These are easily concealed underneath a couch or bed, and you can keep a decorative basket nearby (but out of baby's reach) for changing supplies.
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