I say this straight from my heart, I had no idea what I was doing when my first baby was born. Literally the week before he came along, my husband and I frantically googled ‘how to change a nappy,’ and not even as a lark. Neither of us had ever changed one, and had no idea where to even start. At the bottom end, probably. But honestly, who could be sure?
I say this to make you feel a little better about having reached the point of asking yourself the following questions. Because I asked them too. And I’m guessing so did most of the mothers you know. (And those that say they didn’t either work in childcare, or are in denial.)
How do I change a nappy?
First things first, you absolutely do start at the bottom end (phew!) And you start with the right fit. Whether you choose disposable nappies or cloth/reusable nappies, fit is everything. Too small, and your baby’s vital regions won’t be covered sufficiently. Too loose, and you end up with leaks (and, and you can trust me on this one, baby poop is not an easy stain to remove.) Most disposable nappies come with a size indicator, which helps you choose a fit based on your baby’s weight. Mostly it’s a good call to start with ‘newborn’ sizing, and if you’re unsure of your child’s exact poundage, you can often tell by the sticky straps used to put on the nappy that it’s time to move on up. Basically, If there’s a gaping chasm between the left and right straps used to seal the package when it comes time to fasten the nappy, your little one is probably a little more grown-up than the last time you went shopping. (Don’t worry, you’ll notice when said straps move further and further to the sides of the nappy! And this will all make perfect sense when you have an actual nappy in your hands, I promise.) Red marks left behind when the nappy is removed is another sign that it’s time for a change, though as a rule of thumb if this is starting to overwhelm, just remember: if it doesn’t cover the bum, it’s time for a nappy run.
Once you have your sizes down pat, it’s a good idea to set up a little change station, with everything to hand. Mine included: Several nappies, wipes, nappy rash cream, nappy bags, and hand sanitiser. Before changing a nappy, make sure everything you need is ready to go. This is something I’ve always done, and it’s saved me many a time from being peed on. My husband, however, repeated the same mistake 100 times too many of stripping our son down before getting his supplies set up, and ended up needing a change of his own as a result (little boys like to wee the second a nappy is removed – a good way to avoid being wet, aside from preparation, is to undo the nappy and lift it for a few seconds, then place it back down for a few seconds more, to give them time to relieve themselves if it’s going to happen. Nine times out of ten with this trick, you will hear their bladder emptying in the nappy, rather than on your face. Hurrah!) You do not want to be my husband in this scenario. The amount of extra showers that man had to take in those first few weeks is beyond belief. Have your nappy opened up and ready to be placed on baby, have wipes pulled up out of the packet so you’re not scrambling to get a grip on one, have your rash cream open, and your sanitiser pump at the ready. Deep breath in, GO GO GO!
How to GO GO GO, according to a handy tutorial from Pampers:
(Please don’t feel you have to use Pampers to be a ‘good mum’. We actually found Aldi Mamia nappies to be the best for fit and anti-leakage, followed by ASDA Little Angels and Co-op’s own. Boots own brand literally came unstuck and fell off of their own accord more than once, so we tend to avoid those ones… Pampers are brilliant, but rather expensive compared to supermarket brands!)
A note on cloth nappies from a cloth bum mum:
“When it comes to size, there’s newborn and then birth to potty – with birth to potty covering around 10lb up. Dependent on the brand, some of them are sized more accurately. You put them on like a regular nappy, using either poppers or Velcro, and the only real difference is that they don’t go as high up the back. There are options for every price point and people have really personal preferences about the style they use, so I’d suggest doing your research and choosing the fit/brand that works for you. Clean Cloth Nappies has the most science-based cleaning method, which can be found here”
How do I dress baby for bed?
This topic was the one that most often had us hitting a wall when talking to friends with children. Because when the answer is most often ‘oh you just know,’ and you’re there thinking ‘yes but what if I don’t know?’ and then the baby arrives and you find yourself looking at it and thinking ‘oh wow, I really don’t know!’ you truly do find that some actual advice could have really come in handy. And that your friends are actually enemies hell-bent on your fiery destruction (joking, they most likely have just forgotten what newborn life is like – it’s kind of a blurry haze once you’re through to the other side, and it really does become second nature after a little while.)
The first thing you need to know about bedtime, even before knowing how to dress baby, is that certain sleep environments and sleep positions are considered to be much safer than others. The Lullaby Trust is a leading charity focussed on sleep safety, and have a series of presentations worth watching in regards to the subject, here.
Some basics to remember include: an empty cot is advised – no teddies, no bumpers, no suffocation risks whatsoever. Very tiny baby’s do not know to remove something obstructing their airways, and aren’t capable of doing so even if they did. Pillows are unnecessary for the same reason, and any blankets used should be cellular. Baby sleeping bags are fantastic, as they move with baby, and minimise any risk of riding up over their face (For more information about choosing baby sleep products, you can find a short summary, here.) Babies should ideally sleep in the same room as their parents until 6 months, and should be placed on their back to go to sleep, according to latest research. You can find more on that, here.
Now, back to the original question. How do I dress baby for bed? Luckily for you, I am the owner of many a Grobag, which comes with it’s own little room thermometer and dressing guide, giving me the knowledge required to share the following with you. I present to you this handy illustrated chart, that saved me from many a neurotic moment before I started to trust my own instincts (and a few overtired moments since):
Use this guide alongside your own knowledge of your baby as it grows, and you won’t go far wrong. The only exception being when baby is running a fever. On those nights it’s best to keep them as cool as possible, and sometimes even just a nappy will do – for those wondering, the advice to sweat out a fever has been discredited, and most certainly does not apply to babies. Don’t worry, cold baby’s cry, so you’ll most likely know if they’re starting to cool. And let’s be real here, you’re probably not going to sleep a wink if your baby is under the weather anyway, so you’ll be able to monitor the situation closely through bright red eyes as your partner snores next to you. The b*****d.
Hopefully this has eased your mind a little. Next topic: what are my feeding options? And what is nipple confusion?
I bet you can hardly wait. 😉
All information correct – to the best of my knowledge – at time of publishing. Information gathered through a combination of personal experience, discussions with other mothers, internet research, reading parenting books, and speaking to medical professionals during my pregnancy. Please remember that I am not a medical expert myself, I am just a mum trying to help other mums get a grasp on their new role