As early as the first two days of life, newborns pass stool 2 to 7 times each day. Newborns wet 2 to 6 diapers for the first 2 days and 6 to 10 each day thereafter. Changing diapers is both an important and enjoyable part of caring for your newborn. A diaper change is the perfect time to talk, play, and get to know your new baby.
Keeping your baby’s bottom clean and dry will help prevent or cure diaper rash. Change your baby’s diaper every 2 to 3 hours and as soon as possible when his diaper is poopy. You do not need to wake up a sleeping baby to change a diaper. Babies can be fussy when you change them. Also, exposing their skin to the air and then a cool, wet cloth may cause them to wet again. Diaper changing can go more smoothly by having everything you need within reach before you begin. You’ll need a clean diaper (plus pins if you use cloth diapers), a small basin of lukewarm water and a wash cloth, diaper ointment or petroleum jelly. Soft paper towels are nice for cleaning poopy areas. Also, have an extra set of clean clothes handy in case the diaper has leaked. Never leave your baby alone on a changing table not even for a second.
Remove the diaper, and then clean the diaper area well with plain water on a soft washcloth; special wipes or soap are not needed. Commercial baby wipes are OK, but some babies are sensitive to them and the wipes can cause skin rashes. You can use soft paper towels to clean off poop before cleaning with a wash cloth. Be sure to clean the anus well of all poop. To prevent urinary tract infections in girls, wipe the genital area from front to back. For baby boys, lift the scrotum and clean the skin under it. Be sure to get the anal area clean to prevent irritation from poop. Blot the skin in the diaper area dry. Avoid using loose powder; breathing powder into his lungs can cause breathing problems.
To prevent diaper rash, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the diaper area. If the diaper area becomes red, change his diaper more often, and expose the diaper area to the air. If you notice the area around anus is red, you may not be getting the area clean when you change poopy diapers. Always wash your hands after changing his diaper.
If your baby has a diaper rash, clean his skin with a mild soap like Dove and warm water. Apply a thin coat of zinc oxide ointment like Desitin over the skin covered by the diaper each time you change his diaper. This skin is very tender so rub the area very gently. To prevent the cause of the rash, try changing diapers more often, using another brand of detergent, or not using plastic pants. If you are using disposable diapers, switch to cloth diapers or change brands for a while.
When you change a cloth diaper, shake or scrape loose poop into the toilet. Then rinse the diaper in the sink. Soak poopy diapers in disinfectant along with wet diapers in a diaper pail. If possible, keep poopy diapers in one pail and pee-pee diapers in another.
When changing a disposable diaper, shake or scrape the loose poop into the toilet. Then wrap the disposable diaper with the soiled area to the inside, fasten it with one of its sticky tabs, and throw it away. Do not flush the diaper down the toilet. Be careful not to put disposable diapers in the diaper pail with cloth diapers—they can end up in the washing machine.
To help the umbilical cord stump dry out and fall off, keep the stump uncovered by folding the diaper below the umbilical cord stump. Folding down the diaper keeps urine from getting on the stump and exposing it to air helps dry it out. Also, if your son has been circumcised it’s important to keep his penis clean while it’s healing. Change his diaper often so that his penis does not get irritated from urine or stool. If stool gets on his penis, clean the penis gently with mild soap and water when you change his diaper. Fasten his diaper loosely to keep it from rubbing or pressing on his penis. (See special care for your newborn)
Some breastfeeding mothers worry if their newborn is getting enough milk, since they cannot measure the milk. Counting diapers is a good way to reassure yourself that your baby is getting enough milk. Your baby should wet his diaper every 3 to 4 hours and have 6–10 wet diapers a day. If your baby does not wet his diaper for more than 12 hours, call your pediatrician right away. Disposable diapers are so absorbent, it may be hard to tell if the diaper is wet. If you are not sure it is wet, take the lining apart and feel the inside.
Call your pediatrician:
• if your baby’s urine changes color or is bloody, especially if accompanied by abdominal pain
• if it looks as if it hurts your baby to urinate, or your baby is straining
• if a diaper rash will not heal, becomes crusty, or spreads outside the diaper area
• if the diaper rash has pimples or blisters
Caring For Your Newborn
Table of Contents
Caring Begins at Birth
Your Newborn’s Hospital Check-up
Ten Fingers and Ten Toes
Special Care for Your Newborn
When Your Newborn Cries
Changing Your Newborn’s Diaper
Feeding Your Newborn – breast or bottle feeding
Feeding Your Newborn – spit ups, weight gain, BMs
Bathing Your Newborn
Dressing Your Newborn
Shhh!! We’re Sleeping
Keeping Your Baby Safe
Your Newborn’s Admirers
Taking Your Newborn Out
If Your Newborn Gets a Cold
If You Have Questions
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Take Care of Yourself, Too