The Essential Guide to Changing a Nappy

The Essential Guide to Changing your Newborn Baby's Nappy

I’ve been reviewing lots of nappy changing bits and bobs recently and it’s got me thinking about my experience dealing with nappy changes compared with the instructions I received from books and classes before Baby was born. Needless to say the real deal is much different from the expectation so I decided that I would write a realistic guide to changing your shiny new baby’s slightly less shiny rear end.

Disclaimer: This guide is based on changing a girls nappy, if you are changing a boy I suggest the addition of a rain hood or poncho as an extra precaution.

You will need

  • Nappies
  • Baby wipes
  • Nappy cream
  • Ear plugs
  • Protective apron


When you receive your newborn baby you may be a little apprehensive about nappy changing, and understandably so. If you have attended the NHS parenting course you have probably been lectured about newborn poop looking like marmite for the first few poops and then changing to a mixture somewhere between mustard and rice pudding. If you haven’t been to the NHS class then I apologize for that mental image. Either way, the first few times you change your tiny human’s nappy will be somewhat nerve wracking.

The Essential Guide to Changing your Newborn Baby's Nappy

Let’s set the scene. You have finally been allowed to go home after proving to half a dozen nurses that you can wee and poop (just about), you’re exhausted, you have stitches in places you don’t even want to think about and you are now responsible for your very own human who suddenly looks up at you with an expression of perfect concentration that you will come to know well. Time to perform your first solo nappy change.

Preparation is key with nappy changes. Whether you have a changing table or just a mat placed somewhere convenient, I suggest that you set it up with wet wipes on one side, a clean nappy open and ready on the other and a spare outfit or three within easy reach (just in case). Once your changing area is ready you can put on your protective apron and ear plugs ready to begin.

The Essential Guide to Changing your Newborn Baby's Nappy

Delicately remove your baby’s bottom half from her outfit, she will inform you that she doesn’t like being undressed via the medium of screaming as if you are murdering her. This may be a little disconcerting at first but rest assured that it is perfectly normal and she will grow out of it in a few months time. Until then the ear plugs will help to protect your ear drums from the excessive volume.

Next, gently remove the nappy tags and check the content. Under no circumstances should you breath in while checking a nappy, if possible hold your breath until you have identified whether you have a code brown (or more likely, yellow ochre). It is quite likely that despite the poo face, the nappy will be empty. This is quite common and is no cause for concern. The important thing is never to assume that a baby’s bottom isn’t loaded regardless of whether there is poop in the nappy or not.

Lift you baby’s legs slightly with one hand while cleaning the bottom area and pulling out the soiled nappy with the other. The law of sod dictates that this is the point that your baby will choose to poop. Whatever you do, do not freeze! Your baby’s bottom is capable of shooting a semi-liquid stream of poop further than a super soaker, so you will need to act fast to place a nappy in the way of the poop stream and to minimize the damage. Once the poop stream has stopped you will need to clean your changing area, remove your baby’s outfit entirely, clean your baby’s bottom again, give yourself a quick baby wipe bath and make a mental note to shampoo the carpet.

The Essential Guide to Changing your Newborn Baby's Nappy

At this point, after your baby’s poo explosion, you may think that you are safe to relax and change and cloth your tiny baby. Do not be lulled into this false sense of security. Despite your baby appearing to have pooped her own body weight she may still be loaded. Quickly place a clean nappy under her bottom and prepare to slather your choice of nappy cream. Your baby may choose at this pint to “mess” with you by squirting out a small poop. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to become flustered, babies can smell fear! If this happens, simply start again, removing the soiled nappy, cleaning your baby and stalling a clean nappy. I once continued in this manner in a B&Q toilet for around half an hour which was extremely distressing for everyone involved. As a result I would suggest that you never leave the house with less than 10 nappies, 20 if you have room!

Eventually the never-ending cycle of poop will end and you will manage to cream your baby’s posterior. Unfortunately your baby will usually save up an unimaginably large wee for just such an occasion. It is a little known fact that female babies are quite capable of projectile weeing, however they only do this when there is a suitable target within reach, as such, never remove your protective apron while your baby is unclad.

As your clean nappy is once again dirty, remove it and add it to the knee high pile growing beside you. You will now need to begin the nappy changing process once again while remaining vigilant for further wees. Female babies have the additional skill of the stealth wee, this is where you do no see the wee, you have no idea how or when it happened, but somehow your baby is sodden once again. As a result of this you may need to complete a further three or four nappy replacements but do not lose hart, you are nearly there.

Once you finally have a nappy snugly fitted to your baby, ensure that you run your finger along the inside of each leg hole to ensure the the seal is in place, before opening the wine. Failure to do this may result in your wine being interrupted by a nappy leak emergency.

The Essential Guide to Changing your Newborn Baby's Nappy

Your final task is to re-cloth your baby. My preference for newborns is to place them in sleep suits with poppers running down the front and both legs however you may choose to dress your baby in a cute outfit, in which may the odds be ever in your favour. If you are dressing your newborn in a sleep suit, lay the clean garment out flay and place your baby on top. It is likely that at this point, despite wailing for you to dress her, she will be less than cooperative with regards to her arms and legs. Against her protest carefully feed your baby’s arms through her sleep suit, taking special care not to lose any fingers in the process. Once her arms are in, fasten the top popper of the sleep suit to prevent her from escaping like Houdini from a straight jacket. It should now be a relatively easy task to insert her legs and pop her up.

You have made it! Your baby is now clean, clothed and may or may not have stopped screaming for all she’s worth. You may now remove your protective apron and ear plugs and pick up your glass of wine. It is not recommended that you operate a baby under the influence so it is suggested that you only have a small glass regardless of how frazzled you feel. You should now have long enough to disinfect your changing area, spot clean the carpet, wash away any dried poop that got past the apron, and feed and cuddle your baby before you need to start again.

After bringing my newborn baby home and realising that the realities of nappy changing are nothing like the expectation I decided to write this (not so serious) guide to nappy changing and the trials that the books don't prepare you for!


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  1. Hey Tessa,

    I was laughing a lot while reading!! Haven’t had a good old laugh for a long time!!Thanks to you. I enjoyed reading this nappy changing guide. I have loads of ear plugs ready at all times 😉

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