I’m going to say it: diapers are not so bad. I’m sure that when we finally finish our third round of potty training sometime next year and I spike that last dirty diaper into the trash, we’ll have a moment of celebrating, but as someone who is easily into her thousand-something diaper change I will say that it’s not the hardest part of being a mom. You just have to know what you’re doing.
I’ve owned expensive diaper change stations that doubled as baby scales, wipes warmers that infused essential oils, four different kinds of cloth diapers that came with four different kinds of cloth diaper detergent, one of those designer steel diaper pails that last forever (ours rusted in less than eight months), and more diaper change accessories than you’d even believe. The secret, as it turns out, is that 99% of that stuff is unnecessary and about 60% of it will actually get in your way and make your life harder. So, I’m sharing 8 of my mom hacks for diaper changes:
1 /// Use plastic grocery bags instead of a diaper pail. The key to keeping smell, humidity, and general grossness under control is to individually seal each dirty diaper. There are diaper systems that will do this for you, but realistically all you need is a bunch of plastic grocery bags so you can toss the diaper/wipes in and tie it up when you’re done. Then you can toss the diaper in whatever trash can you’re near. The key is to be sure the grocery bags stay out of reach of little hands since they definitely aren’t toys. We keep ours under the sink but we’ve also employed the hidden-in-the-wipes-container method.
2 /// You don’t need a fancy changing table. Eva had a dedicated changing area complete with wipes warmer, a minky-covered changing pad, and one of those diaper change organizers. Calvin had a basket on the floor with a flat waterproof changing mat, some diapers, some wipes, some lotion, some baby powder, one toy, and some diaper rash cream. That system worked a whole lot better because we did changes on the floor and when he got to the age of rolling around we didn’t worry that he’d roll himself off into a head injury. Although Felix got a super fancy changing pad and we briefly brought the full changing table back, we’re back to a few baskets of supplies around the house and diaper changes on the floor. It’s just so much easier.
3 /// You need exactly one toy in your diaper change kit. It needs to be easily wipeable and/or washable, it needs to be small, and it needs to be totally off-limits except during diaper changes. Super special toy time with an off-limits toy keeps little hands busy during changes so you don’t have poopy fingers midway through and it lessens the chance that your subject will get distracted and try to roll away. Just be sure that the toy isn’t too exciting or you’ll face a power struggle when you take it back after diaper time is over.
4 /// You always need lotion and diaper rash cream on hand. We also keep baby powder, but it’s not as essential as the other two. The diaper rash cream is a must because you want to stop any hint of irritation in its tracks. As for the lotion, in addition to keeping baby’s skin happy, a dollop of lotion on a baby wipe is the best way to get sticky stubborn poop off without scrubbing and causing pain.
5 /// Get in the habit of undressing from the head down. If you can help it, try never to pull onesies over your baby’s head. Those weird overlapping shoulders on baby clothes aren’t only for giant heads like my kids have – they’re designed to let the whole outfit be pulled down so you don’t have to pull a soiled onesie over your kid’s face. Getting into the habit of taking everything off that way means you won’t forget and smear poop everywhere unnecessarily.
6 /// Putting diaper rash cream on is an art. Diaper rash cream is a life saver but it’s also one of those things that gets everywhere and stays on your hands forever. We’ve used wands and special tools but they’re not practical unless you always change your baby in the same spot and you have one of those magical babies that doesn’t want to grab whatever tool you’re holding so he can jam it in his mouth. The best method, I’ve found, is to take a diaper wipe, drape it over your ring and pinkie finger, put a dollop of rash cream on there, and use that to cover baby. You’ll still get a bit of diaper rash cream on your hands, but it makes it a lot easier to clean up after.
7 /// Don’t warm up your wipes. This is something of an anti-hack because I’m basically telling you NOT to do something, but after we indulged Eva in a wipes warmer, I realized that the warm wipes made it 50% more likely that she was going to pee on me during diaper changes. I think it’s that same thing that happens when you put a baby in bathwater and they immediately pee into it. Just use room temperature wipes. Everyone will be fine.
8 /// Start with hypoallergenic diapers and wipes to avoid painful irritation. All three of our kids have crazy sensitive skin, which was most noticeable when we ran through a line of diaper brands in the beginning. It turns out that our kids need scent-free disposable diapers that pull moisture away from the skin between changes and super soft baby wipes. Starting with those supplies has saved us a huge amount of trouble with the kids’ skin.
So, veteran parents, any diaper changing tips you think I missed?