winging a diaper change
August 29, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Can you wing changing a diaper?

How difficult is it to change a diaper for the first time? Possibly babysitting a 1.5 year old tomorrow--is it possible to watch some youtube videos/read some tips, etc. and be able to without much trouble change a diaper? Am otherwise good with babies/children, just somehow never got around to the actual diaper changing bit. Thoughts/tips/advice?
posted by dysh to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, definitely.
posted by Grither at 9:29 AM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Standard modern diapers are pretty idiot-proof. Remove old one, wipe baby down if necessary, Open new one, put baby in, close with sticky tabs. If they use cloth diapers or something funky, it might be trickier, but probably not too much.
posted by brainmouse at 9:29 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I can learn how to tie a tie with YouTube videos, you can learn how to change a diaper.
posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, prepare to be peed on.
posted by Grither at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Disclaimer: I'm not a parent and have never diapered a child. But - don't diaper packages have instructions on the side? That could at least provide guidance, I imagine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is not rocket science, especially now that diapers have tape instead of pins.

If the baby is a boy, no matter what, keep a diaper over his penis, otherwise you may get a face full of pee.

Also, a 1.5 year old is a hard target to diaper. They wiggle, kvetch and in general make it a hassle.

I recommend having the parent demonstrate with you before he/she takes off.

Is there a diapering song to sing? Perhaps you can use one. "Crazy Train" is good. Just sing while wiping, powdering and diapering.

Once you do it, you're golden.

Just pray that the little one doesn't have a blow out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Changing a diaper is simple. Messy, but simple.
posted by Flood at 9:31 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are lots of videos out there but I find the most difficult part of diaper changing an unfamiliar child is figuring out where all the stuff is. You want to have a changing surface, fresh diaper, and wipes handy. Make sure you have the wipes to hand before you start!

Also with a 1.5 year old it is desirable to have a certain degree of cooperation from the kid, so your "good with babies" skills will come in handy.
posted by mskyle at 9:31 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

The logistics of changing a diaper are not difficult. You'll be fine putting the diaper on, but you might be shocked at what you need to do when taking it off.

Er. Everybody poops. YOULL BE FINE. good luck.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2012

Ruthless Bunny: "Just pray that the little one doesn't have a blow out."

Oh right, also prepare to be pooped on.

you should see the video some parent friends of mine have on their iPhone. Poop was EVERYWHERE.
posted by Grither at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2012

Absolutely! Sometimes the hardest part of changing the kid is getting the new diaper opened correctly in the first place. Just make sure you have everything you need within -your- arm's reach before you begin.
posted by hgswell at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not rocket surgery, as they say. I think the most important this is that you don't leave the kid on the changing table such that s/he could roll off when you turn around to get the baby powder or something. So, either (a) set it up in such a way that you always have at least one hand on the kid, (b) some changing tables have a little seat belt you can buckle, or (c) put a towel down and change him/her on the floor.

For any other issues, really the worst case is just that you have to change the diaper again a few minutes later because you bungled it (i.e. no long-term damage).

Just ask the parents for their advice before they leave. The child may have preferences/needs that it would be good to know about, and 1.5 y/o is old enough that the kid could be used to having it done a certain way.
posted by pompelmo at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give the kid some kind of toy or board book to hold onto while you work on them. It helps for wriggles. Important: if the baby is a girl, wipe front to back.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's totally easy to wing changing a diaper. The mechanics are extremely straight forward. People with IQs massively lower than we can assume yours is have mastered this in one go. You'll be fine.

Remove old diaper. Wipe child with wipe, front to back. In a massive poop explosion incident, rinse child in kitchen sink. Cream kid with whatever, if anything, is provided. Put new diaper on, paying attention to front and back diaper orientation. Fold old diaper, securing into diaper packet with used tabs. Dispose as instructed.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tips include

Approach from the side
Provide a toy to distract (does not have to be actual toy; use a hair comb or whatever safe-looking thing is lying about)
Powder is not really necessary anymore due to concerns about inhalation
Hold both ankles with one hand
Be quick
posted by hmo at 9:35 AM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

One thing I haven't seen mentioned: if the baby is a boy, make sure the penis is pointing down into the diaper -- otherwise when he pees, it may go up and over the front of the diaper.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Disposable diapers are easy, in general function. There's a front and back, with the sticky tabs coming around from the back to wrap in front. Make sure you pull up the back of the diaper high enough, as to cover all of the little bottom. Once on, it should sit be an even height in the front and back. Gently tug the front and back again, then re-clothe the baby.

Suggestions: before you take off the first diaper, make sure the outfit is pulled up and away from the bottom half of the little person, in case of peeing during changing. Then open and stretch the new diaper, setting it away from the grabby little person. Also pull out a wipe, or at least get one ready. If they're stinky and you're expecting poop, you might want to pull out two or three wipes for quick cleaning. Open the container of lotion. THEN take the soiled diaper off of the baby.

If (s)he is poopy, wipe the poop off the baby as best as you can with the soiled diaper, then set it aside. Clean up the baby, then quickly get the new diaper under the baby. You can apply lotion once the diaper is in place, and if it looks like pee is about to flow, close the diaper. Leaving a baby uncovered is inviting pee, but sometimes the baby will pee before you can get anything to cover the peeper. Babies are tricky.

Ask the parent(s) what toys are good to distract during diaper changing. Our little guy loves a pair of glasses that have sunglasses that flip open. Other toys get tossed aside after a moment, only giving you a brief bit of reprieve from grabby hands.

Good luck!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

1.5 years old is old enough to know what going on even if they're not talking yet. So provide running commentary, starting with 'hmm, I think we need to change this, where are the diapers and the wipes?' It's probably not old enough for offers of edible bribery for good behaviour to be effective, though.
posted by Lebannen at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2012

As for when to change the diaper: you can ask the parents how often they change the little person. Diapers could be good for a few hours of intermittent peeing, or if you have an especially leaky baby, less time. As for poop, you might notice the little person straining for no apparent reason, or you might notice a sudden stink and a wiggly baby. But if distracted, babies can go with poopy pants for a while. It's not suggested, but if (s)he is having fun, (s)he might ignore the poop to keep playing.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:51 AM on August 29, 2012

A 1.5 year old?

There will be a lot of squirminess.

I recommend, if the diaper is not poopy, standing the baby up and changing. I have had two babies. They were/are less squirmy when standing for a diaper change than lying down.

If it is poopy, wipe down while the kid is lying down -- hold both feet in one hand to help with squirminess, lift bum, wipe --- then stand the kid to put the diaper on because once you let go of those feet, they will roll over and try to get away.
posted by zizzle at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2012

New dad here. No one had to show me the actual mechanics of the diaper, it was all totally obvious. Some not-so-obvious things to remember-

- Beware getting peed on, especially with boys. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

- Wipe thoroughly. Again, if it's a boy, there are extra crevices to check under and around the lil' nutsac.

- Don't ignore whatever butt-paste or ointment is around. Apply liberally.

rabbitrabbit: "One thing I haven't seen mentioned: if the baby is a boy, make sure the penis is pointing down into the diaper -- otherwise when he pees, it may go up and over the front of the diaper."

posted by mkultra at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2012

Assuming a plain old disposable diaper, it is literally idiot proof. Admittedly, you'd get a lot better if you had to do it all the time (ALL THE TIME) but you can do it successfully, if gracelessly, simply by thinking your way through it and using the tips above. I'll summarize, and add a few that I don't see.
  1. Open new diaper and get the tabs ready for deployment.
  2. Place kid on changing table or floor with their business end pointing to your dominant hand, and their head towards your other hand.
  3. remove or loosen whatever clothing is in the way.
  4. Undo old diaper closures and lift baby's legs holding both ankles in non-dominant hand.
      If poopy:
    • Close diaper underneath baby's bottom, so their bottom is resting on the front of the old diaper, closed beneath them.
    • Wipe, wipe, wipe wipe. Look for crevices, there are many. You are still holding baby's ankles in your other hand.
    • If not poopy:
    • Set aside diaper and act quickly. Poop can't be far away.
  5. Put new diaper under baby, tabs coming from the back. The bottom should rest at the fold of the diaper, sort of. there's a place where the kid fits well, and you'll find it. Once you're there you can let go fo the ankles. If there are gussets, make sure they are sort of stretched out and the ruffly part is not bunched inwards.
  6. If boy, aim penis down-ish.
  7. Close tabs, snug but not tight.
  8. That's it.
If this kid is 18 months old, they've had their diaper changed more than 1000 times, and they know how it works, and will know precisely at which part of the dance they are, and will either help or hinder you. Hope you get lucky and they want to help.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having changed a number of diapers, my only additional tip, particularly for a kid that age, is to find a toy that lights up or makes noise. This will distract much more readily than a non-blinky toy. Do not deploy immediately; wait to see if it's needed. If the kid is extra squirmy and deciding to make life difficult for you, deploy toy. My secret weapon was a hot wheels police car with cherries that lit up.
posted by LN at 10:01 AM on August 29, 2012

My son is 21 months old. The best piece of advice I can give you is that the baby may howl indignantly while you are trying to change the diaper, like you are perpetuating a great injustice against God and Man. It is perfectly fine to pin the wriggly little kiddo down while you get the diaper fastened, even if the kid shrieks like you're sticking him with needles. IOW, don't assume that just because the kid is yelling that you're doing something wrong. Every diaper change around these parts is accompanied by hollering, sometimes from both of us.
posted by KathrynT at 10:15 AM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

If not mentioned previously, there is a chance that this kid will suddenly twist himself and jump sideways. This is a problem if you are on a counter or tabletop, and have turned your back, as the kid will end up on the floor. Either keep one hand on the kid, or do the diaper change on the floor.

The next time you see one of those diaper change stations in a public restroom, notice that it has a "seat belt". This is why.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:21 AM on August 29, 2012

Easiest to do on the floor with a kid that age.

Make sure you get the tabs closed tight enough. Novices never get the tabs sealed tight enough. You want to be able to get a finger tucked in, but any looser than that, and you're going to have fall out.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:43 AM on August 29, 2012

The front of the diaper usually has a picture printed on it (presumably thus located so the wearer is able to enjoy it). The back is the part with the sticky tabs. You don't need to fasten it so tight that the tabs are touching in the front, unless the baby is very slim, I guess. Check for poops every half hour or so.

Based on strange situations I discovered after babysitters had gone home.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2012

Actually, there's a good chance that the kiddo will help you out somewhat. My kids at that age kinda "knew the drill" already so they're used to being on the changing table, lifting up legs, etc. So there could be very little squirminess unless you're "doing it wrong" (i.e., different than what they're used to).

I hold the ankles with my dominant hand. I haven't really analyzed it but I suspect it's because it's stronger and I can chase ankles better with it.

I've personally had few problems with peeing/pooping while they're being changed; that's been an issue (heh) for our kids only when quite young. About the biggest problem I have at that age is them sometimes wanting to get a hand down there to help, or flailing a leg into the messy diaper. But those are avoided by 1) placing the messy diaper far away, and 2) being fast with the wiping.

Oh--and you're likely to get the diaper fitting wrong if you're not careful (happens to me sometimes, and I'm on kid # 4). You want to make sure the front and back are roughly the same height, and that there are no gaps around the legs, and that the top is snug, and that you don't get it on crooked. Basically, imagine what'll happen if it leaks and situate the diaper accordingly to prevent that. If you're rushed and get it crooked it's no fun later.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:01 AM on August 29, 2012

It's easy to wing, but echoing the suggestions for using distractions during diaper changing time - it may be a necessity. At that age, be prepared that the child might run away with a poopy or soggy butt, and you may be required to chase after them. I don't usually suggest going right for gold, but if you have an iphone or smart phone, have youtube or an interesting app on that could occupy them for a couple of minutes and that should do the trick.

Be prepared for possible meltdown when you need to take it away though!
posted by raztaj at 11:06 AM on August 29, 2012

Yes, do this on the floor. Have a towel for them to lay on, and have diapers and all supplies there and ready - pull out a couple of wipes in advance, even.

Now, key point here: Before you even OPEN the diaper, check for the contents. If it's poopy, when you're pulling the diaper off you want to catch the kiddo by the ankles with one hand, and lift up so that the butt isn't touching down on anything. (And try to do a swiping/wiping move at the same time, to get as much of the poop off with the diaper.)

Grab your wipes, do what you need to do; let go of the ankles once you've got the hindparts clean and make sure everything's copacetic up front. Once you've got the monkey clean, just pull the front of the diaper up and close up the tabs.

If it's a boy, they can very often spontaneously pee when cold air hits the penis. So keep a spare diaper or a washcloth or something there and cover them IMMEDIATELY when you take the diaper off.

The kid I change on a regular basis right now loves a good round of Old McDonald to distract him, especially if I get a little crazy on the animal sounds.
posted by lemniskate at 11:47 AM on August 29, 2012

If it's a girl, remember to wipe front to back to avoid UTIs.
posted by at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2012

One addition: Have the fresh diaper open, ready, and spread out underneath the still-diapered child before you begin. If you suspect major mess, you may want to layer two like that. Not that you put both new diapers on, you just have a spare handy in case the first one gets compromised.

Also, be aware of where you are aiming them when you're lifting ankles and such. I've never been peed on, but I have seen an arc of poop hit the wall, and I'd hate to have it hit something less cleanable. This was with a much younger child though.
posted by expialidocious at 12:52 PM on August 29, 2012

I went for 34 years without changing a humans diaper. Didn't even do it in the first 4 months.
Then my wife went back to work at the 4 month old mark, and I was now stay at home daddyman, and changed his britches with no hitches.
If you can put a band aid on, its not much harder than that.
posted by ducktape at 12:54 PM on August 29, 2012

As a very occasional diaper changer, I'd say you want to get briefed on:
-which is the front side of the diapers they're using - there's often a picture on the front for orientation.
-which size diaper they're using now, if there are multiple sizes in the cupboard
-do they use any ointment etc, and where/how they want it applied
-about how often does baby need to be changed (to set your "definitely time to check" mental clock)
-where are clean outfits that fit, in case you need to change baby's clothes from an extra messy experience (sometimes there will be outfits that the baby has outgrown, but which are still sitting in a drawer, you want to avoid those)
-where do the used diaper and soiled wipes go?

And just familiarize yourself with the diaper before changing -
-can you see how to open the tabs? (I was confused by this the first time, was expecting adhesive but instead it was kind of velcro-ish)
-Observe how high diaper is on baby's belly. I tended to put the diaper on too loosely/low the first couple times, which risks leakage. Err on the side of high and snugly fastened.

Also as mentioned above, when done changing, check around the legholes, below the butt, to be sure there's no uncomfortable semi-wedgie.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:01 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a lot here about the mechanics (which is good) but I was going to say what Lebannen said, have a chat with the kid while you're doing it - maybe talk about a toy you've put within their reach or just sing a song to them. If child gets antsy stop for a moment and do a bit of interaction with the toy and then give the toy to the child.

Also when you're finished give the kid a cuddle to celebrate how well you've both done !
posted by southof40 at 2:53 PM on August 29, 2012

Poop gets a lot more solid when babies start onto solid food, so projectile poop isn't really much of a worry, unless the little one is sick and has diarrhea. But little ones ... danger of all sorts. In one instance, we were finding spots of poop a day and two after the initial explosion.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on August 29, 2012

Always, always open the fresh diaper and slide it under the used one before you get started. It will save you if the kid starts going again while you are changing them. It also allows you to wipe them, then quickly slide out the old diaper and cover them up in about 2 seconds.
posted by tacodave at 4:26 PM on August 29, 2012

Please don't trust a safety belt on the changing table or on one in a public place. A baby is surprisingly strong and surprisingly squirmy. If they are on an elevated surface, keep one hand on them at all times and try to have everything you need to hand so you don't even have to take your eyes off them. If at all possible, change on them on the floor as others have suggested.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:53 PM on August 29, 2012

I've had babysitters put diapers on backwards. One assembled the cloth diaper cover inside out. In both situations, everything that needed to be contained was still contained. You'll be fine.
posted by linettasky at 9:05 PM on August 29, 2012

Response by poster: Hey all, thanks for all the awesome answers. The babysitting day is over and everything went fine. I won't mark best answer because all of them were very helpful. Thanks again!
posted by dysh at 6:11 PM on August 30, 2012

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