Handy nappy changing tips

Boy having nappy changed

A new baby may bring about a whole set of unexpected challenges (juggling a screaming two-month-old while trying to make dinner, fold the laundry AND feed the cat, anyone?) – but nappy changing needn't be one of them. We've created an easy guide with videos thrown in, so you can be a pro nappy changer in no time

Nappy changing kit you need

The first nappy choice you need to make is whether you’re using cloth nappies or disposables.

Reusable cloth nappies are now much easier than the ones your mum will remember. Gone are the huge buckets of Nappy San that stunk your house out while they soaked. Reusables are much more slick these days and there are many delivery services now, that will bring you clean nappies and take your dirties away to sort. There are many designs, from all-in-one models where the inner and outer layers are sewn together, to ‘pocket’ styles where you put the liner inside a little pocket in the nappy. Have a look at what’s on the market before you decide.

Then there are disposables – the ones you see endless TV ads for that miraculously never actually feature a poo. Disposables are not so good for the environment but then you need to weigh that up against the washing and tumbling you might get through with reusables. You can also buy biodegradable nappies these days, which are more expensive but won’t sit in landfill for the next several centuries. Once you’ve decided on your basic bottom coverage, you can give the rest of your kit some thought.

Do I need a ‘proper’ change table?

Not one of those fancy ones painted in a neutral shade with little shelves and a matching mat on top. If you have your heart set on one, go for it, but you’ll probably find you don’t actually want to traipse upstairs to the nursery every time you need to do a quick change, and anyway, there’s a marvellous invention called the floor that does a perfectly good job and is readily available in your house. Setting up a change station in whatever spot you decide to dedicate to it is a good idea, so that everything you need is always to hand. If you do buy a proper change table you can go all fancy with your baskets of wipes and clean nappies underneath and feel like you’re in an Instagram nursery.

What should you keep by your change station?

  • A good quality change mat – nice and thick with a waterproof cover. A good change mat should last you a couple of years so it’s worth investing in a decent one, or even getting two – one for upstairs and one for downstairs.
  • Packets of wipes or, in the early days, cotton wool and a top and tail bowl (or just two bowls – just keep water used for cleaning face and bottom separate)
  • Nappy sacks or a nappy bin
  • Stack of clean nappies
  • A tub of barrier cream to ward off nappy rash
  • An old towel for any guerilla wees (or worse)
  • A toy or two for distraction purposes
  • An extremely fascinating mobile to put overhead (optional)
Baby in nappy

What do you keep in your nappy bag?

  • A small, thin, foldable change mat
  • Packet of wipes (two when one packet is getting low)
  • Nappy sacks
  • Barrier cream
  • Spare set of clothes
  • Spare nappies (however many you’ll need for that day plus one or two spares)
  • A miniature anti-bac gel in case you can’t wash your hands immediately

Here's a quick visual rundown of all that. Nappy bags at the ready…

See our nappy bag essentials

Nappy changing hacks you need to know

How to tell if a nappy needs changing

Unless you like runny poo pouring out onto your lap, don't pinch the side open ‘to have a little look’. There’s good reason why you see seasoned parents upending their babies and inhaling deeply through the bottom of their babygros. A good sniff is usually all it needs. Feeling a bit ‘warm’ in the bottom area is often a key indicator, too.

Take their socks off

It’s tempting to cut corners here but if you don’t take her socks off she will plant a foot in a poo. Risk it if you like but on your head (and her sock) be it.

Know that you can peel a baby vest downwards

When she’s done a real corker and you can tell poo has shot up her back, remember that babygrows can be removed downwards as well as over the head. Those envelope necks they have? That’s what they’re for. So don’t lift a filthy baby vest over her head, smearing her hair with poo. Save yourself a job and easy the neck hole over her shoulders and take it down over her nappy (before you burn it).

Keep cream, wipes etc out of your baby’s sight and reach

One swift move and she’ll have her hands in that pot of Sudocrem and have smeared it nicely down your top.

Warm the wipes to prevent squawking

One for the parents of precious firstborns perhaps but it does seem to work! Warm it in your hand or stick the packet, top wipe down, on the radiator for a moment. Most babies get used to a colder wipe as they grow… or perhaps we just tune out the sound of their complaints.

Keep one hand on your baby at all times

This helps prevent wriggles, falling off surfaces and her springing sudden aerial cartwheels on you.

Open the nappy sack before you start

One day you’ll get elbow-deep in a crappy nappy, then absent-mindedly lick your thumb and forefinger to help you open a nappy sack. And sob silently to yourself as you realise…

And get a few wipes out before you begin, too

If you try and take a wipe out of the packet one-handed you’ll end up with 20 coming out at once and getting those babies back in is like putting the genie back in the bottle.

Distract and misdirect

The best way to stop your baby getting upset, getting grabby or getting her hands in her nappy is distraction. Have a toy on hand at all times to distract and misdirect her thoughts. You’ll be able to give Derren Brown a run for his money with a Tinky Winky rattle and a set of car keys fairly soon.

Remember it’s good to talk

Chatting animatedly to your baby as you change her nappy can help keep her mind on things other becoming furious about having a cold bottom. The parenting manuals will tell you that nappy changes can be a vital bonding moment. We’re pretty sure the only thing being deeply bonded is baby poo to a muslin, and if nappy changing is your idea of a fun and sociable way to spend 10 minutes, we’d like to gently suggest you need to get out more. There’s nothing wrong with getting the job done and getting down on the playmat for some proper play, unencumbered by sticky tabs, cold wipes on your bottom and the very real risk of someone getting wee in their hair.

And finally

If you find a stray raisin anywhere in your nappy changing area, do not let anyone eat it.

See more pro-nappy-change hacks in our video…

Watch our nappy changing hacks