The supermom’s guide to nappy changing

Nappy changing is one of the more unpleasant parts of parenting, but a daily task that needs to be done until it’s potty training time. Leonie Mynhardt offers some advice about which nappies to choose and how to make changing time easier for you and baby.

Parents will be changing their babies’ nappies from day one until it’s time to potty train their toddlers at around the age of two or three years old. If you calculate an average of six to seven nappy changes per day, times 24 to 36 months… that’s a lot of nappy changes!

What type of nappy is best?
The first thing to decide is what type of nappies you are planning to use. The two main types of nappies are disposable and cloth.

Disposable nappies
Disposable nappies cannot be reused, so in the long run they are costly on your budget and on the environment. With the vast number of brands and styles available, it is important to find the best nappy for your baby. Disposable nappies that are too big for your baby can cause leaks; while ones that are too small will be uncomfortable to wear. A nappy must fit like a second skin. If the nappy’s material is not soft and absorbent enough, it can cause skin irritations. The fastening strips must also be of good quality and be able to keep the nappy secure – it must be resistant to little fingers pulling on it.
Disposable nappies are convenient and save a lot of time and effort as you have clean nappies readily available during changing time.

Cloth nappies
Cloth nappies are more expensive per nappy than disposables and require a large initial cost to accumulate enough nappies for convenient washing cycles. However, once you have a good supply you will only have to buy new nappies to replace the worn out ones.
Most cloth nappies are made up of cotton, which is excellent for delicate baby skin. However, because the absorption of cloth nappies might not be the same as that of disposable nappies, you may need to do more nappy changes during the day to keep your baby dry. Cloth nappies also require a pair of waterproof pants to be worn over the nappy to prevent leaks (if this is not already part of your cloth nappy). To keep cloth nappies clean and dry will mean doing a lot more daily washing, which is expensive and
time-consuming.

More than just nappies
There are also several other items that you will need for nappy changing:

  • A changing mat, table or towel
  • Disposable baby wipes or a facecloth
  • Barrier cream
  • Cotton wool and surgical spirits (for cord cleaning)
  • Plastic bags to dispose of used nappies or store soiled cloth nappies
  • A change of clothes for your baby
  • A toy

 

Changing at home and away
To make nappy changing easy, it is best to keep all the items you’ll need close at hand as you cannot leave a baby unattended on a changing table. Have a shelf or drawer by the changing table that is out of reach of the baby, but close enough to easily retrieve what you need from it. Make provision for a nappy bin for disposing of used disposable nappies or soaking soiled cloth nappies. Have a toy or mobile close by to keep baby occupied while you are busy with a nappy change.
Whenever you are not at home – where everything you need for nappy changing is at an arm’s length – it is best to have a nappy bag. Things to keep in the nappy bag include clean nappies, disposable baby wipes, cotton wool and surgical spirits (for cord cleaning), plastic bags for storing soiled cloth nappies or disposing soiled disposable nappies, barrier cream, a clean changing mat or towel, and a change of clothes.

Changing nappies in public places
The basic changing facilities in public places (if available), usually consist of a changing table and a bin for disposing soiled nappies and wipes. Before placing your baby on this unfamiliar changing table ensure that it is stable and properly fitted against the wall and that it is clean. It is a good idea to put your own changing mat or towel on top of the changing table. Remember to keep one hand on your baby at all times – before, during and after his change. Put your baby back in his pram before disposing of soiled nappies and wipes and cleaning the facility before leaving. Remember to pack all items back in your nappy bag.
If no changing facility is available, the backseat of your car or any clean, dry, safe surface can be used for changing a nappy. Just ensure that it is as private as possible and suitable for a nappy change!

Make changing time fun and fuss free
Nappy changing time can be a special time where you have the opportunity to bond with your baby. Use this time to talk to your baby or give him a short massage before putting his clothes back on. If he fusses hang a mobile over the changing facility to distract him, but keep it out of reach. You can give older babies a toy to keep
them occupied.
If the environment you use for nappy changes is warm and friendly with a special toy to play with, your baby will fuss less and look forward to nappy changing time. However, if your baby is fussing, it is a good idea to calm him down first before putting him down for a nappy change. Night time nappy changes should occur with dimmed lights and not too much movement and sounds as this will wake baby up too much and he might struggle to settle down afterwards. Some babies do not enjoy having a nappy change in the morning immediately after waking up, so this task can be postponed until baby is fully awake.

Slow and soothing
Your baby is very tuned in to your behaviour and mood, so try not to rush the task of nappy changing. Rather keep the mood calm and friendly as this will result in your baby experiencing nappy changes generally pleasant. Older babies and toddlers can learn while you are busy with a nappy change, so make a game of naming and touching all his body parts, e.g. toes, legs, tummy, fingers, arms, nose, etc. Very soon he will be able to identify these parts by himself. Play participatory games while you are changing his nappy – lift your legs, turn on your side, put your feet through the hole of your pants, etc. – as his co-operation will make changing time easier and he will be learning and enjoying this time spent with mom.
Remember to be well prepared for nappy changing by stocking up on enough nappies and other items needed to make nappy changing as efficient for you and as fun for baby as possible.

 

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