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Diaper Changing Tips

According to the U.S. Department of Education, newborns use about 10 diapers every day, so if you want to keep your little one from the discomfort of diaper rash, you can count on changing a lot of diapers!

However unpleasant it sounds at first, you'll quickly realize that diaper-changing time is the perfect opportunity for you to interact and bond with your baby. Singing songs and playing peek-a-boo are great ways to make changing time a more pleasant and interactive experience. "It is wise to talk mindlessly in a high, happy pitch about anything," jokes Rich Cline, father of two, whose second daughter, Gina, was born in January. "This allows her to believe she is in a happy place when, in fact, you are both in deep [doo-doo]."

But don't let daddy fool you - changing a diaper isn't as bad as it sounds. And once you get the hang of it, you'll realize the right way to do it comes pretty naturally.

First, wash your hands with soap and water, and be sure you have everything you need nearby: a fresh diaper, a baby washcloth or wipes, and any doctor-recommended creams or ointments in case of a rash. Don't leave your baby unattended, even for a moment, as babies move around a lot and can get hurt or fall. If you are using a changing table, remember to use the safety straps. You may also lay your baby on a changing pad on the floor, as long as the surface she is resting on is clean. Pillowcases and towels make great substitutes in a pinch.

To remove the soiled diaper, unfasten the diaper tabs, or pins if she is wearing cloth, and raise her bottom from the diaper by gently grasping her ankles and lifting. Be sure to move the dirty diaper out of your baby's reach.

Next, cleanse the entire area covered by the diaper. If you are changing a newborn, use cotton balls or a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, as wipes can cause rashes or irritation in babies less than two months old. Be sure to wipe from front to back to prevent infection. When you are finished, pat the skin dry with a soft towel.

But beware of baby's unexpected surprises! "One must always be ready for the delayed drop or spray-a humbling experience that you cannot take personally," Cline says, smiling. "Consider it a compliment as a chef does a burp."

Once your baby is fresh and clean, slide the new diaper under her bottom. Most disposable diapers indicate which side goes in the front. Before closing the diaper, apply creams or ointments as needed for rashes. To secure the diaper, pull the front up over your baby's belly, open each tab and match them to their fastening surfaces on the front portion of the diaper. If you are using pins, keep your hand between the pin and your baby's skin. Also, be careful not to wrap the diaper too tightly, as it can put more pressure on your baby's stomach and cause her to spit up more often.

Finally, dispose of the soiled diaper and any cleaning materials used during the changing. Remember to wash your hands, as well as the changing surface, when you are finished.

"Diaper changing is all about commitment," Cline says. So whether you use a changing table or a towel, wipes or a baby washcloth, cloth or disposable diapers, you and your baby will both be glad you did!

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