Diapering Baby: Expert Q&A
What are the most common diapering mistakes moms and dads make? Can the scourge of diaper rash ever be conquered? And how can you get a wiggly baby to stay still during changing time?
To get answers to these and other common diapering dilemmas, WebMD sat down with Steven J. Parker, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care (1998 edition).
What are some of the common baby diapering problems?
I don’t hear that many diapering complaints really. Most parents muddle through and get the job done, so the technical part of diapering isn’t usually a long-term issue.
But of all the associated issues, diaper rash is clearly the big medical concern that comes out of diapering. It’s far and away the biggest concern of parents, the most common, and the most inevitable.
So what can moms and dads do to prevent and treat diaper rash?
The number one treatment for diaper rash: Hanging in the breeze! The longer children go without wearing a diaper, the less severe their diaper rash is -- or the less chance they will get one.
Diaper rash is caused by diapers -- by the moisture being trapped artificially against the skin or by the diaper rubbing against and irritating the skin -- both of which are a wonderful setup for germs like yeast and other bacteria. But if there’s no diaper, or the area is always dry, there would never be diaper rash.
So the longer baby can go without a diaper, the better. If the baby’s just gone and you know there won’t be any action for a while, let her go without a diaper for a while and let her bottom air dry. In some ways, I think this is the most underrated way to prevent and cure diaper rash.
Are there any diapering mistakes parents make?
One mistake parents may make when they’re changing a diaper is to miss the dark areas -- meaning that they don’t clean the creases out completely, especially on a chubby baby. On boys, they often forget to clean under the scrotum. It’s important to make sure every square inch on the baby has been cleansed.
And after you’ve cleaned everywhere, using a good diaper cream between the now-clean skin and the diaper is really helpful. Use the cream at pretty much every diaper change. Parents often have one cream they like above all others -- and for every parent, that’s a different cream.
Another common diapering mistake new parents make is losing focus. Inevitably, the first time the babies roll off something and take a header is when they’re on a changing table. That’s the most common first fall. Usually it’s because the parents didn’t even realize that their baby could roll.
So it’s really important to always be careful. If you don’t change the baby on a bed or on the floor -- if you use a changing table -- always keep one hand on the baby. If you can’t -- say, the phone rings -- always take the baby with you.