I will never forget coming home from the hospital with a new baby in my arms. I felt as happy as I’d ever been, but also more vulnerable than I’d ever felt before. There was so much responsibility on my shoulders now. A tiny person was depending on me. Oddly enough, one of my greatest worries was about changing Bean’s diaper. I knew how to change one, but when it’s your own (and first!) baby, diapering suddenly seemed much more complicated. When should I change him? How did I check him to see if he was wet or dry? And what the heck was I supposed to do about his weird belly button???? SO MANY QUESTIONS, PEOPLE!
When we got home from the hospital with Bean, I think I changed him about every half an hour. Any time we did anything, I changed his diaper. Feeding? Change the baby. Going down for a nap? Change the baby. Waking up from a nap? Change the baby. Leaving the house? Change the baby. Coming home? Change the baby. I felt like I lived at the changing table.
Finally, it was my doctor who gave me the best advice.
1. Use a good quality diaper. (We used and still use Huggies. Naturally. Very affordable, absorbent, and cushion-y.)
2. Skip the baby powder. It’s not necessary and it gets chunky and gross in a hot diaper.
3. Change the baby about 20 minutes after each meal, which is about the time they will want to go down for a nap. Then change them when they wake up. Check your baby in between these diaper changes and change them as needed, but if you’re changing them after each meal, then you’re going to be changing them about every 2-3 hours, which should be pretty good. When my babies got a little bigger (about four months old) and were sleeping in longer stretches at night, I never woke them up for a diaper change. If they were up for a feeding, I’d change them about 15-20 minutes after the feeding (as our doctor suggested), but I wouldn’t wake them up just to change their diaper unless there was something funky going on that needed immediate attention. It’s hard to ignore something funky.
For the umbilical cord stump, the nurse at the hospital showed us how to fold the top of the diaper down so that the diaper hit below that belly button and didn’t interfere with the stump. Plus, if you have skinny minnie babies, folding down that diaper top can help it fit them a little more snugly. Don’t be afraid to really tighten that diaper up, either.
I think one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever been given was about diapering, actually. One of my parent’s friends said, “Don’t be afraid to use the diaper wipes. Use lots of them. They don’t cost much, and they’ll save you from a huge mess.” Such simple advice that makes you go, “duh!” Use lots of diaper wipes at first. Be sure to really clean your baby’s bottom really well. I would always remind myself that no one else was going to be taking care of that tooshy but me, so if I didn’t do a good job, who was going to fix it???? Use lots of them, and don’t worry about it. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you can change a diaper with one or two wipes, but in the beginning, cut yourself some slack and use whatever you need. Out of all the things you’ll buy for your baby, diaper wipes are the cheapest! So wipe away!
Newborn babies are equal parts incredible and incredibly terrifying. Practical things like diapering always had me nervous. But I’ve learned that you just have to jump in and do it! If you make a mistake, don’t worry. You won’t make it again. Happy diapering!