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Diaper changing hacks that every new mom should know!

I can’t wait to change my baby’s diaper…

…said no one ever.

(Unless it was in an ‘I just want this pregnancy to be done and baby to be here already’ kind of way.)

No, diapering is one of those ‘necessary’ type of parenting tasks that is no one’s favorite.

Maybe you’re looking forward to diapering with much trepidation.

Will you be able to handle the smell? The mess? The grossness?*

What if he has a blowout when you’re out? What if you run out of diapers at the wrong time?

From changing my first diaper and managing to get it on the wrong way around… I don’t know how that happened… 

To now approaching toilet training, here are some of the best tips, tricks and hacks to make diapering your first baby so much easier.

* it’s not THAT bad (mostly).

diaper changing tips

Diaper Changing Hacks 101: Things Everyone Should Know

There are a couple of things that are so helpful and so basic that it should be mandatory to know before you even think about approaching a baby with a diaper.

Onesies Have Shoulder Flaps for a Reason

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Those cute little envelope necklines you see on every single onesie out there?

Not just adorable decoration.

It’s actually an ingenious feature that lets you pull a soiled onesie down over the baby in case of emergency (poo-splosions and blowouts).

Yep.

If you’re staring down at a category 5 poo-nami, and seriously considering sacrificing the onesie with a pair of scissors… You don’t need to cut the onesie off or try to drag it carefully over your baby’s head without gooping up their hair.

Just grab those shoulder flaps. Pull them open and down.

Rockin’ it!

Disposable diapers have a strip on the front that changes color when wet

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Whaaat?! The day I first discovered this I was so excited!

You mean you don’t have to tentatively try peek in the side of your baby’s diaper to see if it’s messy?

Nope.

If the diaper is wet, the line on the front will change color.

Woah. It’s like magic.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your baby immediately. Those diapers react to the tiniest little bit of wee… so don’t be like me and blast through your entire box of newborn diapers when that colored line changes every hour.

Not using disposables? You might like to check out this post: The Lazy Mom’s Complete Guide to Cloth Diapering

Pull Out the Diaper Leg Ruffles On a Disposable to Stop Leakage

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I was so confused about those little ruffles as a brand new mom.

Do they go out? Or in? Huh?

But, they actually work best when out to stop leakage.

I think it’s way clearer on these toddler diapers… but on the newborn ones, it was NOT obvious.

Tips for Changing Newborn Diapers

Baby’s First Poop – Use Olive Oil or Coconut Oil to Help Clean It Off

The first poop your baby does is thankfully NOT the norm.

It’s black.

Tar-like.

Sticky.

And really hard to clean off.

It’s called meconium and it’s the poop your baby has been storing up over the last nine months. It’ll pass within the first few days after birth as baby gets more milk.

In the mean time, use olive oil or coconut oil to help get it off your baby’s bottom. Some moms like to put the oil in a peri bottle (like the ones you use to help you pee postpartum).

Fold Newborn diapers down in front for the healing umbilical stump

Your baby’s umbilical stump takes around 7-10 days to heal.

While this is happening you don’t want to get it wet or poopy inside a diaper.

So, fold down the front and leave it uncovered.

Have a Portable Diaper Change Basket At Home Rather Than One Station

If you have a small apartment or a split-level home, you might want to forgo the traditional idea of a single baby change table or station in favor of a portable basket you can take with you from room to room.

All you really need in your portable station is:

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • a fold out change mat (or a towel, or a cloth diaper flat, or a receiving blanket)
  • plastic diaper bags for disposal (use ones sold for dog poop as a quick money-saving hack)
  • butt cream (diaper rash cream) and butt spatula
  • baby powder (if you’re using it – choose non-talc!)
  • hand sanitizer
  • an appropriate basket. I rather like this one, but you could also use an old picnic basket.


Essential Equipment (add it to your baby registry): a butt spatula for butt cream

Have you ever thought about how kinda unhygienic diaper rash cream can be?

After a particularly nasty bout of diaper rash caused by a yucky tummy bug, a nurse at my doctor’s surgery gave me a brilliant tool: a plastic butt spatula for applying diaper rash cream. It makes applying the cream much easier and helps keep things sanitary and less painful for baby.

You can buy similar ones to the one I have online at Amazon right here.

Diaper Changing Hacks to Minimise the Mess

Put a clean diaper under the dirty one for a quick switch

Newborns especially can be volatile. You never know when they’re going to let loose.

For a super fast diaper change, position a clean one directly under your baby’s bottom.

Open the dirty diaper, wipe them and put them down on the clean diaper.

It takes a little practice, but you’ll be a champion at it in no time at all.

Use a waterproof cover or no cover at all on your change pad

I never bothered with a change pad cover.

Why would you?

My change pad was waterproof so I just gave it a wipe down after each change and bit more if it got messy.

If you’re worried about cleanliness, get some clorox disinfecting wipes (but don’t accidentally use them on baby.)

Diaper Change Only Toys

At a certain age, baby’s start to get distracted during diaper changes and will wriggle.

NOT what you want when trying to clean up poop mess.

This is actually the reason mobiles were invented. But, you can also use small toys that you can take along for diaper changes on the go.

Onesies Double as Immobilizers (Who Knew!?)

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Roll your baby’s onesie up and over those arms to keep their little hands out of the danger zone.

Diapering Hacks for Boys

If you have a boy, point the penis down in the diaper…

or else the wee will go up. Not good.

Peepee Teepees are a Waste of Money

Just use a cloth flat diaper, burp cloth to cover the danger zone. Or use this trick before opening the diaper:

Wipe a baby wipe over baby’s tummy and wait a few moments before opening their diaper

It’s supposed to be the cold temperature change that makes baby pee on you…

so making their tummy cold with a wet wipe should trigger them to pee before you take off their diaper.

No more showers here!

Tips and Hacks for Overnight Diaper Changes

The key to successful overnight diaper changes is to make it fast and only when necessary to avoid waking baby up too much.

Related: 20+ Baby Sleep Hacks that Changed the Game (because you probably don’t have a unicorn baby either :p )

Use Nightgowns instead of Onesies

Nightgowns are open at the bottom, allowing you to change your baby’s diaper without messing about with their clothing.

Nightgowns pretty much qualify as the simplest version of pj’s you can get for a baby and are highly recommended! This brand comes with in-built mittens (sleeves fold over) and is totally open at the bottom.

Don’t Ever Use Snap or Button Up Clothes For Overnights

Button and snap clothes are cute… but they become decidedly less cute at 2am when you’re blearily trying to re-snap them up properly and end up with a total mess.

Do yourself a favor and go with nightgowns (see above) or zippies.

No one should have to concentrate that hard in the wee hours of the morning!

Buy diapers one size up for night time use

You really can’t lose with this hack – your baby will grow into the larger size in time.

And for overnights, larger diapers hold more pee (which means you don’t have to change as often) and are less likely to leak.

Get a Nightlight for Diaper Changes

While you’ll eventually ascend to the level of black-belt-diaper-changing-wizard, at first you’re going to want to see to change the diaper.

Otherwise you might end up with it on backwards…

yeah I did that. Oops.

I think I had the light on too.

(There’s hope for us all. I haven’t done that in a looong while.)

I went through a couple of different night lights and eventually settled on a low tech and simple Ikea desk lamp that I put on my small side table in the nursery.

Some other cool options for you:

  • motion sensing night lights (check them out here) – no more stumbling about trying to find the switch, these night lights are motion activated! Great idea to help make your life easier.
  • go one step further – motion activated night light that lives under the bed! No chance of light going in baby’s eyes, it lights up the room just enough. Go check it out!
  • I used one of these for a while (beware, they’re super bright so keep it pointing down. Maybe on the underside of your change table?) I liked the simplicity of a touch on, touch off small light that could be stuck anywhere.

Tips to Help You Save Money on Diapering

Diapers are expensive – you’ll go through thousands by the time your little one is toilet trained. So, saving money wherever you can only makes sense.

Related: Reader Exclusive! Must Have Baby and New Mom Stuff You Can Get For FREE

Use Doggy Poop bags instead of Disposable Diaper Bags

Slap the word ‘baby’ on a product and you can give it a premium markup… but when it comes to little plastic baggies to packe up poopy diapers, does it really matter if your bags are designed for babies or fur-babies?

I don’t think so.

You can get an insane number of doggy poop bags for less than the price of a few hundred baby ones. Go check this one out and save yourself some money.

Sign Up for Amazon Family for 20% Off Diapers

If you’re an Amazon Prime member (if not, you should consider joining – you’ll get your money’s worth outta diaper discounts, just sayin’!) sign up for Amazon Family for some great benefits –

  • up to 20% off diapers,
  • discounts on baby food and
  • regular coupons for family ‘stuff’.

It’s well worth looking at for the savings.

Don’t change a diaper immediately, give baby time to finish

Yeah, so, this one time I did NOT do this. It was so bad.

I went through 4 diapers in about 10 minutes.

Yikes.

That was my whole stash and ALL my wipes.

Luckily a friend of mine was changing her baby at the same time so I could borrow a new diaper and some wipes. Crazy times.

Moral of the story: Wait a few minutes to make sure the baby is definitely done… or you risk needing to do another diaper change.

Stockpile Diapers In All Sizes (Except Newborn)

If you find a good deal on diapers, or a great coupon, stock up! Or, if you want to have a diaper-only shower, go ahead!

You’ll need thousands of diapers for the few years that your baby will be in them.

The only size I don’t recommend stocking up on is newborn. Your baby won’t be in those for long at all.

Return Unopened Boxes of Diapers for the Next Size

Don’t forget you can return unopened boxes of diapers to trade them for the correct size… so it’s no big deal if you overstock! Or get a massive stockpile at your baby shower.

Use Baby Face Cloths Instead of Wipes

Water wipes are super popular right now because of how gentle they are on baby’s skin… and it’s so easy to DIY.

Even if you aren’t into cloth diapering (which is awesome and not as hard as you might think), you can still take a leaf out of the washable book and go reusable with your wipes.

All you need to do is get some soft face washers or burp cloths and wet them with water when needed.

Now use them instead of wipes.

Rinse, wash, and repeat.

Diaper Changing Hacks on the Go

Backups, backups, backups.

That’s the ticket to surviving diapering on the go. You never want to be caught out. (Though really, in most cases you can probably make your way to a shop and buy what you need easily enough.)

Related: What you REALLY need to pack in your Diaper Bag.

A Portable Change Mat Is A Great Idea

Many diaper bags come with a portable change mat. Which is great because they’re really useful!

If your diaper bag didn’t come with one, not to fear, you can also buy them separately (and they’re probably better quality than the ones that come with.)

You can use a portable change mat in:

  • a public change station to keep things sanitary
  • on the grass at a picnic
  • in the back of your car
  • on a table or a bed while visiting your in laws (great for when waterproof-ness is appreciated).

Keep ziploc bags (gallon size) in your diaper bag in case of Poosplosions

You definitely don’t want any mishaps with a poop nightmare in your diaper bag.

Ziploc bags to the rescue.

Make sure you grab the gallon size so they’re big enough for an entire set of clothes (have 2, in case you need to put your own clothes in there too.)

Have a Car Diapering Kit Stashed

You might think it’s overkill, considering you take your diaper bag with you everywhere.

But a car stash is great for those moments when you might forget to bring the bag, have run out of something important or decide to live dangerously and leave the house without it (this always ended in tears for me… YMMV).

What you need in your car diaper stash:

  • diapers and wipes
  • change of clothes (for you and baby)
  • portable change mat, towel, or receiving blanket to change on
  • plastic bags for disposing of poopy diapers
  • ziploc bags for soiled clothes
  • butt cream, applicator spatula and powder (optional – unless you’re on a road trip or vacation you can probably do without until you’re next at home.)

Carry a Change of Clothes (or two) in Your Diaper Bag Like This

Carrying extra clothes takes up so much space!

Or does it?

Check out this amazing way to store baby clothes in your diaper bag while taking up minimum space!

diaper changing tips