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Slideshow: Stopping Diaper Disasters

Best Way to Diaper

Messy diapers happen. How you diaper your baby can make a big difference in managing the mess. Think containment! Here are the top 3 moves to make:

  • Pull the front of the diaper even with the back, and center it between your baby's legs.
  • Make sure the diaper fits snugly around the legs. Don't let the fringe around the leg openings of disposable diapers get tucked inside the elastic.
  • Tape or pin the sides evenly and snugly around the hips.

Diaper Rash

All babies get a red bottom some time, often from wearing a wet diaper too long. To help prevent it, change diapers as soon as they're wet or soiled. Apply a thick layer of diaper rash ointment, and don't put diapers on tightly. To treat rash, rinse the area with warm water. Use a squirt bottle if the rash is really bad. Pat, don't rub, dry. Put on a loose diaper or let baby go diaper-free, maybe during naps.

Is Baby's Food to Blame?

Sometimes diaper rash isn't the diaper's fault. When babies start to eat solid foods, they're more prone to rashes. It can also happen if they have diarrhea, an infection, or if baby or mom is taking antibiotics. Call your pediatrician if your baby's diaper rash doesn't get better after 2-3 days or if the rash has blisters or pus-filled sores.

Cloth vs. Disposable

There are pros and cons to each type of diaper, ranging from cost and convenience to health concerns. The choice is a personal one. Some babies react to materials in specific disposable diapers, and that could trigger a rash. But cloth diapers may not be as effective as disposables at keeping skin dry. Remember, leaving a baby in a wet diaper can lead to diaper rash, so change dirty diapers right away, whether they're cloth or disposable.

Through the Night

The good news is, your baby is sleeping longer. The other news is, their diaper needs to last all that time. Try these tips:

  • Add a "diaper doubler" to your child's diaper. It's a thick cloth or disposable pad that adds extra absorbency at night.
  • Try diapers made for overnight use.
  • Consider changing your baby before you go to bed, even if she is asleep. Change her if you feed her at night and she has a dirty diaper.

Fit It Right

How well your baby's diapers fit can make a big difference. If you're noticing leaks or diaper rash, try going up or down a diaper size. If a diaper is too small and tight, it can rub and chafe and cause diaper rash. If it's too big or too small, you could have accidents from overflow or seepage. Try different brands, too. One may fit your baby's bottom better.

Quick-Change Artist

When you head to the changing table, you want to move fast and still be soothing to your baby. If your tot gets curious about what you're up to, you can distract him with singing or a toy. Then learn to change diapers really fast!

Curb Smells

To help keep your nursery smelling fresh, empty the diaper pail once a day, or take disposable diapers out to the trash immediately. If you're using cloth diapers, dump any waste into the toilet before putting diapers into the pail. Tip: Spray soiled diapers with water and baking soda to make them less smelly.

Washing Wisdom

When laundering baby clothes that have been caught in diaper accidents, or cloth diapers, rinse away any soil before putting them in the washer. Use a mild, unscented detergent that is recommended for babies and wash separately from other laundry. Use hot water and rinse twice. Don't use fabric softener or scented dryer sheets. They could irritate baby's sensitive skin.

Just for Boys

When changing a baby boy, it's a good idea to place a clean diaper over his penis. Fresh air can cause baby boys to pee, and you don't want your floors, walls, or you to be in the way! To help prevent leaks at the waistline, tuck your son's penis pointing down before closing the diaper.

TOC Diapering a Newborn

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on July 12, 2013

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