According to research, a parent can expect to change 3,728 nappies before their child turns 4 years old. If an average nappy change takes around 5 minutes, that's a whopping 310 hours or over 12 days spent dealing with dirty nappies! It's not just changing the nappies though, it's the fact that your child will often be less than happy about the need for a change. Newborn babies usually hate to be undressed and dislike cold wet wipes even more. With my babies, I found that there was a golden age between about 2and 4 months where they actually quite enjoyed changing time and loved to lie on their backs and kick nappy free. Once they were able to roll and later crawl however, changing time once again became a challenge, as they would much rather be doing something else! Then there is the 'poonami' - the technical term for a huge bowel movement which the nappy has no hope of containing. The huge and often very soft poo will spread up the back and down the legs with alarming speed, often resulting in a complete change of clothes and, if practical, a bath - for both parent and child!
While it has to be done, there are some brilliant nappy changing hacks to make the nappy changes in your life just a little bit easier. As a mum of two and a newborn photographer for over 8 years, I have done my share of nappy changes and I am pretty slick, although I say it myself! However, once in a while I still pick up a brilliant new hack from one of the parents in my studio and it's always a 'Why haven't I been doing that all these years' moment. So I've brought together my top 10 favourite nappy changing hacks to make your life a just little bit easier whatever the age of your baby.
1. Be prepared!
It pays to have all your nappy changing supplies fully stocked and within easy reach, especially in the early days with a newborn. I found having a changing basket/ box with everything I needed both upstairs and downstairs was essential as well as a change bag for outings and to keep in the car. Knowing that you have everything to hand will help to make changing quicker and easier - there is nothing worse than discovering that you don't have any nappies to hand when you have just taken off the old one!
2. Know what you're dealing with before you start
When it comes to changing nappies, it's always a plus to know what you're dealing with before you start! Is it just a wet nappy, a slightly dirty one or a full scale code brown? A quick peep through the leg opening is usually enough to let you know where you stand! Checking the situation before your start means that you can decide to do a quick change where you are, call for back up or head for the bathroom.
3. Go down not up
If you need to change your baby's clothes because the nappy has leaked or in the event of the dreaded poonami, a brilliant trick is whenever possible to take your baby's vest etc. off by pulling it downwards, not upwards over their head. This keeps all the mess towards the bottom end and avoid spreading the poo onto your baby's top half, hair (!) etc. If your baby is wearing a vest or top with an envelope neck opening, this has been designed to open up enough to allow you to pull if off downwards over the body rather than over their head. Genius or what!
Once your baby is able to roll, sit or crawl, they are less likely to enjoy lying down for a nappy change. This is when distraction is a brilliant tactic to keep them still enough for you to deal with the task in hand. A special toy that is just for changing time is a useful tactic and can keep your baby's attention just long enough for you to change them with minimal fuss. Alternatively, singing, playing silly games and chatting to your baby while you are changing them is a lovely way to both distract and bond at the same time. Siblings can do a great job at distracting your baby too!
5. Keep little hands out of the way
Little ones love to get their hands into everything, dirty nappies and nappy cream included! As your baby gets older, you are likely to find that little hands make nappy changing more of a challenge. Giving your baby something to hold is a good way of dealing with this whether it's a toy or a teether or a random object from your nappy bag. If you baby is wearing a top or a vest, another hack is to roll the vest up and fold it securely over their arms to keep little fingers safely out of the way.
6. Take a moment to allow for the inevitable accident and let fresh air circulate
There is something about a fresh nappy (or maybe the fresh air) that causes babies to wee. I have lost count of the number of times I have popped a fresh nappy under my baby ready to fasten only to be stopped in my tracks by another wee! So I decided to save myself some time and fresh nappies by waiting a few minutes for the 'little accident' to come before putting the new nappy in harms way. It's also a great opportunity to get air to your baby's bottom and to help prevent nappy rash!
7. Beware little boys!
However, if you are going to leave your baby's nappy off for a while, mums of boys beware. Unlike girls, boys have the perfect sprinkler attachment which means that the accidental changing mat wee can go in literally any direction and it is completely unpredictable! This is such a hazard that new parents can buy products specifically designed to protect you from this hazard. If you don't believe me, Google 'pee pee teepee'. I'm sure they are great, but I have always found that a wet wipe or a piece of cotton wool works just as well to redirect the jet downwards.
8. Pinkie finger for nappy cream
Most nappy cream by it's nature is water repellent and really difficult to wash off. It's also great at getting on everything, especially your baby's clean clothes. When applying nappy cream, a great hack is to use your little (pinkie) finger on your non- dominant hand. That way, you are less likely to accidentally spread the cream around before you have a chance to wash it off.
9. Doggy poo nappy bag dispenser
Do you find yourself hunting around for a nappy bag, dirty nappy in one hand, wriggling baby in the other? A doggy poo bag dispenser could be the answer! Clip the dispenser to your changing bag and you'll have easy, one-handed access to a nappy bag every time.
10. Admit defeat and bath
This isn't really a hack, more of a 'don't worry, we've all been there' acknowledgement. When it comes to dealing with nappy disasters it's perfectly fine to admit defeat. Often, when a poonami hits, rather than using endless wet wipes, the least stressful and most effective course of action is just to get in the bath and wash everything at once. I have done this on many occasions and often ended up getting in the bath with my baby too. Of course, if you're out of the house it's not possible but I always just did the best temporary clean up job that I could and headed straight for the bath when we got home.
I hope you have found these nappy changing hacks helpful. If you have any great ideas of your own to add, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!