Diaper changing 101 -- What you need to know

by Melissa Jaramillo Changing diapers 101Who would think this little square of absorbable paper or cloth would cause such confusion? How do you get started? What do you need to know about diapering? Is there a skill set you must master? Follow these simple steps and we can more than likely guarantee you'll get the scoop on poop and how to handle diaper changing 101.

How to diaper your baby

How many times should I change my baby's diaper?

Babies should get changed as soon as they’re gone to the bathroom. It's more comfortable for them and helps prevent diaper rash. You'll be changing your newborn more often in those early weeks -- at least five to eight wet diapers and minimally two poops a day.

Is my baby peeing and pooping enough every day?

How much your baby is peeing and pooping is the best indicator that he or she is eating enough and staying healthy. Here's what you need to know: • Newborns should wet five to six disposable diapers or six to eight cloth diapers with a clear or light yellow-colored urine. They should also have two to four loose, grainy, mustard-colored stools each day. If your baby is breastfeeding, the poop will be a bit looser in consistency. • At four weeks your baby might drop down to one poop a day (or even skip a day) as their digestive systems mature. • Instead of looking at the frequency, look at the consistency of bowel movements: - Frequent stools that look extra watery and green could mean diarrhea. - Firm, small pebble-sized stools could indicate constipation • Look for other signs besides the number of wet diapers. Your baby could be lacking nutrients and/or dehydrated if you notice: - Dark or bright yellow urine; - Strong smelling (sometimes fishy) urine; - Urate crystals that turn the diaper a pink or red color; - Signs of dehydration, like dry lips, unusual lethargy, sunken eyes, and cold hands and feet.

Do I wake my baby up in the middle of the night?

It isn't always necessary to do this. But you'll want to keep the following in mind: • If you smell a "stinky," try not to disturb his or her peaceful slumber. • Leakage happens -- it’s a good idea to have some sheet savers and mattress protectors. • Try to change your baby’s diaper as close as possible to bedtime. • If you’re using cloth diapers, many companies sell “soakers,” which are extra strips of cloth to use at night. • Disposable diaper-users can purchase the overnight products which are more absorbent. • Every baby's different and some might need to be changed throughout the night to avoid painful diaper rash.

When should I consider potty training?

Every child is physically and emotionally ready at different ages and stages. The generally accepted rule in the U.S. has been to look for certain "readiness" cues, usually between 18 months and 3 years. The thought behind this, is that potty training too early can cause anxiety, low self-esteem and a prolonged training process because the baby might regress.

What are the actual steps?

Step 1: Lay your baby down on a flat, firm surface. Unfasten the dirty diaper and hold your baby's legs up by grasping both ankles with one hand. Remove the diaper and thoroughly cleanse your baby in and around all creases. Step 2: Apply any creams or powders you're going to use. Step 3: Slide a clean diaper under your baby so that the fasteners are in the back. Pull the diaper up between baby's legs, making sure it's on straight, so it will wrap evenly around baby's hips. Then open the tabs, place them over the front of the diaper, and press them down firmly in place. The same procedure can be used for cloth diapers, except you'll use velcro diaper covers or pins. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.