How to change a nappy

 It is important to take your turn in changing your baby’s nappy. It’s not as difficult as you may think.

Where to change a nappy

It’s a good idea to have a regular changing place where you can store all the essentials.

The safest place to change your baby is on the floor. This will help to keep your baby safe from a serious fall.

If you’re out and about and this is not possible, never leave your baby unattended or turn your back whilst you change their nappy. Babies are little wrigglers, and you never know when they’ll take you by surprise!

Organise the changing place

You will need:

•  A changing mat or towel

•  Fresh nappies

•  Wet wipes, or cotton wool and a bowl of warm water

•  Fresh baby clothes

•  Nappy rash cream

•  Something to put the used nappy in (e.g. a nappy sack, or a nappy bucket)  

Your newborn baby’s nappies

In the early days, the contents of your baby’s nappies will change. It may surprise you, but understanding these differences can help you know if your baby is feeding well. To find out more, visit the NCT webpage where you can also download an information sheet.


Changing: Here we go

Are your hands clean? Although you are going to change a messy nappy, it’s still important that your hands are clean as babies have delicate skin.

  • Undo the bottom half of your baby’s clothing and put to one side.
  • Undo the dirty nappy. Hold it in place for a moment, as babies often have a wee when the cold air first strikes their bottom!
  • Gently holding your baby’s ankles, lift their bottom and use the old nappy to wipe away the worst of any poo and wee.
  • Put the old nappy to one side.
  • Wipe the whole of the area that the nappy covered, using either wet wipes or warm water and cotton wool.
  • For girls – always wipe from front to back, to help prevent infection.
  • For boys – never pull back his foreskin. It takes months for it to separate from the rest of his penis.
  • Gently lift your baby’s bottom off the mat, to check underneath.
  • Pat (don’t rub) dry with cotton wool. If baby is sore, gently put cream on the areas covered by the nappy.
  • If you can, leave the nappy off for a little while. This will give your baby time to kick-about and let their skin breathe.
  • Gently lift your baby’s bottom off the mat again, by holding their ankles, and slide a clean nappy underneath.
  • Fasten the nappy, but not too tightly. If you are using a cloth nappy (reusable), you will also need to put waterproof pants on top.
  • Dress your baby and give them a big kiss and hug (after checking that your hands are clean!).
  • Place the dirty nappy in a nappy sack, tie it up and put it straight in the bin. Remember: nappy sacks are plastic bags, so never leave them within reach of your baby.
  • If you’re using cloth nappies, flush the poo down the loo and place the dirty nappy in a bucket of nappy detergent, to soak.
  • Wash your hands and you’re both good to go!

Further tips and a bathing demo video can be found at the NHS Choices website



Washing your baby

You do not need to bathe your baby daily, but you should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day.

Choose a time when your baby is awake, content and relaxed. Prepare everything beforehand, and make sure that the room is warm.

You will need:

•  A bowl of warm water

•  A towel

•  Cotton wool

•  A fresh nappy

•  Clean clothes

•  Changing mat

Hold your baby on your knee or lay them on a changing mat. Take off all their clothes, apart from their vest and nappy, and wrap them in a towel. Dip the cotton wool in the water (make sure that it doesn’t get too wet) and wipe gently around your baby’s eyes, from the nose outwards, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye. This is so you don’t transfer any stickiness or infection from one eye to another.

Use a fresh piece of cotton wool to clean around your baby’s ears, but not inside them. Never use cotton buds to clean inside baby’s ears.

Wash the rest of your baby’s face, neck and hands in the same way, and dry them gently with the towel.

Placing baby on a changing mat, if they are not already there, take off the nappy and wash your baby’s bottom and genital area with fresh cotton wool and warm water. Dry very carefully, including between the skin folds, and put on a clean nappy. It will help your baby to relax if you keep talking while you wash them. The more they hear your voice, the more they’ll get used to listening to you and start to understand what you’re saying.

Further tips and a bathing demo video can be found at the NHS Choices website



Babies only need a bath two or three times a week but, if your baby really enjoys a bath, you can bathe them every day. Make sure you do it in a warm room.

Do not bathe your baby straight after a feed, or when they’re hungry or tired.

Prepare everything you need beforehand:

•  A baby bath or washing-up bowl, filled with warm water

•  Two towels

•  Cotton wool

•  A clean nappy

•  Clean clothes

Baby bath liquid is not necessary in the first month. Babies have thin, delicate skin and washing with just plain water is best.

Put the cold water in the bath first, and top up with hot.

The water should be warm, not hot. Always check it with your wrist or elbow first, and mix it well, so there are no hot patches.

Hold your baby on your knee and clean their face, using the cotton wool.

Next, wash their hair, using just water or a liquid soap or shampoo that’s designed for babies. Rinse carefully, supporting them over the bowl.

Once you’ve dried their hair gently with the towel, you can take off their nappy, wiping away any mess.

Lower your baby gently into the bowl or bath, using one hand to hold their upper arm and support their head and shoulders.

Keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Use the other hand to gently swish the water over your baby, without splashing.

NEVER leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a second. Babies can drown silently in as little as 5cm of water. 

Remember: baby bath seats are not safety devices. Babies can wriggle free and topple over in bath seats – they should only ever be used with constant adult supervision.