If you have a baby in the house, you'll be changing diapers as many as 10 times a day! That adds up to as many as 70 diapers a week, 280 or more diapers a month, and close to 3,360 diapers during the first year. With an investment that big, it pays to become a diaper size expert as early as you can.
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Here are some tips to turn you into a diaper fit pro:
Choose the Right Size
The chart below is a great guide to helping you choose a diaper size based on your child's weight and stage, but you'll also need to check for telltale signs of a poor fit once your baby is wearing them. Persistent leaks, red marks on baby's skin, or gaps are signs of an improper fit. If your baby is nearing the top of the weight range, it may be time to consider moving up a size.
- Newborn diapers: Up to 10 lbs
- Size 1: Up to 14 lbs
- Size 2: 12 - 18 lbs
- Size 3: 16 - 28 lbs
- Size 4: 22 - 37 lbs
- Size 5: Over 27 lbs
- Size 6: Over 35 lbs
Try It on for Size
Whether you've never changed a diaper before or you're an old hand, don't worry -- you'll get plenty of practice with your new baby. WebMD offers information, including a video with step-by-step instructions, or you can follow these steps:
- Open up a new clean diaper and place the back half (the half with tabs on either side) under your baby. The top of the back half should come up to your baby's waist. (If your baby's dirty diaper is a big mess, you might want to lay a cloth, towel, or disposable pad under your baby instead of the clean diaper while you clean up your baby.)
- Unfasten the tabs on the dirty diaper. To prevent them from sticking to your baby, fold them over.
- Pull down the front half of the dirty diaper. If your baby is a boy, you might want to cover his penis with a clean cloth or another diaper so he doesn't pee on either of you.
- If there's poop in the diaper, use the front half of the garment to wipe the bulk of it off your baby's bottom.
- Fold the dirty diaper in half under your baby, clean side up. (This provides a layer of protection between the clean diaper and your baby's unclean bottom.) To do this, you'll need to lift your baby's bottom off the table by grasping both ankles with one hand and gently lifting upward.
- Clean your baby's front with a damp baby wipe, cloth, or gauze. If your baby's a girl, wipe from front to back (toward her bottom). This helps keep bacteria from causing an infection.
- If your baby pooped, grab another wipe and clean her bottom. You can either lift her legs or roll her gently to one side then the other. Be sure to clean in the creases of your baby's thighs and buttocks, too.
- Let your baby's skin air dry for a few moments or pat it dry with a clean cloth. To help treat or prevent diaper rash, you may want to apply diaper cream.
- Remove the dirty one and set it aside. If you followed step one, the clean one should be underneath your baby, ready to go.
- Pull the front half of the clean diaper up to your baby's tummy. For a boy, be sure to point the penis down so he's less likely to pee over the top of the diaper.
- If your baby is a newborn, avoid covering the umbilical cord stump until it's dried and fallen off. You can buy special disposable diapers with a notch cut out for the stump or fold down the front half of a regular diaper.
- Make sure that the part of the diaper between your baby's legs is spread as wide as seems comfortable. Too much bunching in that area can cause chafing and discomfort.
Adjust the Fit
Once you're sure about size, make sure the diaper fits in a way that will help prevent leaks. If it looks crooked or is riding up on your baby, it's probably time for an adjustment. After each change, you'll want to make sure you're covering all the right spots, including the backside and hips. No coverage on these areas can lead to leaks or an uncomfortable baby. Check that the fit is straight and symmetrical, front and back and side-to-side. Make sure the waistband is right at the waist, not too high in front or too low in back or vice versa. Diapers with re-sealable tabs will allow you to make any adjustments for a snug, flexible fit.
Dealing with Diaper Rash
Even with the most attentive diaper-changing schedule, diaper rash can happen - and despite the name, the rash isn't actually caused by the diaper. Irritant diaper dermatitis (the medical term for diaper rash) is caused by babies' skin being in contact with urine and stool. The acidity, frequency and consistency of the stool, as well as the pH of the urine, all play a role in the development of red, often painful areas on the skin.
- If your baby is prone to diaper rash, use hypo-allergenic fragrance-free baby wipes
- Let your baby "air dry" before putting a diaper back on
- Use cornstarch to help keep your baby's bottom drier.
- Try a zinc oxide-based diaper cream. This helps prevent the irritants from coming in contact with your baby's delicate skin
If your baby still develops a rash, talk to your pediatrician. Some foods and medications can lead to diaper rash, so you'll want to inform the doctor of anything that might be contributing to irritation.
When to Change Sizes
When a "blowout" happens, your first thought may be to blame the diaper. But it might just be that the diaper is the wrong size for your baby. Size is one of the most common causes for a leak or blowout.
Examine a diaper in the current diaper size to see how it fits your baby. If you notice red marks around your baby's upper legs and tummy from the elastic in the diaper, the diaper is likely too small. Additionally, if you notice that the diaper looks or feels too snug on your baby, it is likely too small. You may also begin to notice leaky messes if your baby's current diaper size is too small.
Try the next size up in diapers to see if it absorbs better and fits your baby more comfortably. If leaks stop and it looks like a better fit, your baby was most likely ready to move up. If you notice excessive gapping at the legs and waist, the diaper may be too large for your baby. Let your baby gain another pound or two and then try again.
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