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Diaper Changing Supplies

• Diapers. Cloth diapers are preferred by some parents, because they don’t use up landfill space. Since washing cloth diapers at home can contaminate your washer and dryer with feces, a good diaper service would be nice, but most of them have gone out of business. Most parents choose ultra-absorbent disposable diapers that wick moisture away from baby’s skin. Hook and loop style tabs are better than tape, because they can easily be refastened at any time, and work well even when baby lotions and creams are spilled on them. Diapers with elasticized tabs or waistbands can provide a fit that is snug, yet comfortable. If you remove a wet ultra-absorbent diaper, and your baby’s skin looks like someone has sprinkled it with salt crystals, there’s no need for an emergency call to the pediatric urologist. Wet or very wet ultra-absorbent diapers sometimes leave crystals on baby’s skin. Of course any time your infant appears ill, you will want to contact her pediatrician or nurse practitioner. After removing the diaper, you can turn it into a neat little package by rolling it from front to back, and then securing each end of the roll by fastening each tab.

Small babies who have a high fluid intake and also sleep for long periods at home or in the car or stroller can soak the most absorbent diapers and spring a leak. Highly absorbent insert pads that create a double diaper effect can be set inside a diaper for extra absorbency. They are sold at grocery stores. Thicker, more absorbent overnight diapers are available for older babies. Swim diapers are very convenient for the pool. Just rip them off and throw them away after use.

• Diapers striped on the inside with petrolatum and zinc oxide are more expensive than many other diapers, but may be a good choice for a baby with extremely sensitive skin. While they’re worn, they deposit a thin, invisible protective layer of petrolatum and zinc oxide on baby’s skin. It’s almost as if the diapers contain tiny elves with paintbrushes, energetically painting baby’s skin with petrolatum and zinc oxide.

When you buy disposable diapers, save the receipts. If your baby grows into a larger diaper size, you can take unopened packages of the smaller diapers back to the store. Diaper coupons can be found in the Sunday newspaper, in other periodicals, and on diaper company web sites. Many parents ask friends and relatives without babies to save diaper coupons for them.

• Cotton balls (100% cotton for maximum absorbency) and warm water provide a very gentle way to thoroughly remove irritating feces from baby’s diaper area. Unlike baby washcloths, they don’t create a major laundry problem. If the changing area is not in the bathroom, you may want to use a new disposable 8 or 9 ounce cup every day and as needed for carrying warm water to and from the changing area. Parents who don’t like the occasional cotton fibers that cotton balls may leave on baby’s skin sometimes buy 4” x 4” gauze pads at the drug store or medical supply store and use them instead.

• Soft, cloth-like paper towels. When moist with warm water, they make gentle disposable washcloths for cleaning up faces, hands and diaper areas.

If you and your baby aren’t allergic to latex, smooth, well fitting, unsterile, disposable latex gloves can save valuable time. (If allergies are a problem, latex free gloves are available.) Gloves are handy for messy jobs like changing diapers, applying creams, wiping little noses and even pumping gas. If you wear a glove or two, you’ll still wash your hands after the diaper change, but you can avoid the extra twenty minutes it can take to scrub feces, cream, ointments and whatever out from under your fingernails. It’s helpful to keep some gloves in the diaper bag some in the car, and even a few in your pocket. Latex gloves are sold in every drug store.

• Baby wipes, however gentle and free of irritants they may be, are often quite irritating to young babies’ sensitive skin. As babies get older, their skin toughens up a bit, and they may develop a greater tolerance for baby wipes. Baby wipes are certainly handy to use when you’re out and about and changing diapers. They also can be used to clean up a toddler’s sticky hands. You may want to keep a small quantity of wipes on hand, and get more later if your baby has or develops tough skin.

• Disposable changing mats or plain old paper towels are nice for protecting linens on the changing table at home, and for providing a disposable landing spot for diaper changes away from home. The prefolded paper towels that come in a box or are sold in bulk at warehouse stores are easy to handle when you’re on the go. It’s good to have a mat, blanket or towel you can machine wash and dry, preferably one with a recognizable up side that goes next to baby and a down side that overlies the diaper changing surface. After use, if you fold or roll it with the clean side in and put it in a plastic bag before returning it to the diaper bag, you’ll protect the contents of the bag from bacteria and viruses it may carry. When you get home, you can discard the plastic bag and toss the mat, blanket or towel into the washer.

Immediate disposal of used diapers is made quick, easy and odor free by double wrapping the diaper in a free plastic carrying bag from the grocery store.

Here is one quick way.

1. Drop the folded diaper into the bag.
2. Twist the bag tightly closed above the diaper.
3. Grab the open top edges of the bag, and pull them downward, creating a skirt-like double layer of plastic over the diaper.
4. Hold the wrapped package you’re making so that the twisted part is located below the diaper.
5. Grab the open edges of the plastic bag again, and twist the bag closed. Tie the twist into a tight knot. You should end up with a double wrapped diaper with a twist at the “north pole” and the “south pole.”

For neat and compact storage of empty bags, just fold or roll each bag into a tiny package, and stuff it into the end of a clean, empty paper towel roll. Then you can add another and another. One paper towel roll can hold many bags.

• Barrier creams and ointments can help prevent and treat diaper rash. Ultra-absorbent diapers effectively wick most urine away from your baby’s skin, but they can’t protect his skin from feces. If your baby has sensitive skin, you may want to protect his little bottom from feces by applying a thick layer of a barrier cream or ointment. Diapers wet with urine still need to be changed frequently to prevent skin irritation. Prolonged exposure to urine can be particularly irritating to the area around the urinary meatus at the tip of the penis, whether a baby boy is circumcised or uncircumcised. If any diaper rash is no better in 48 hours, blisters or pus are present or you’re very concerned, speak directly with your pediatrician during daytime hours, or make an appointment for a same or next day office visit. When you make the appointment, explain that treating the rash at home has not worked.

• Before applying these products, the skin should be cleaned with fresh, clean, warm water and patted dry. Cotton balls provide a clean, gentle way of cleaning the skin with water and patting it dry. • A good time for cord care is right before a diaper change, and right after you wash your hands. If your pediatrician recommends that you clean the stump of the umbilical cord with alcohol, cotton balls can make the job quick, easy and effective. Here’s one way to do it. Wash and dry your hands. Wearing unsterile gloves, use a cotton ball like a stopper at the top of the open bottle of alcohol and invert the bottle. Then remove the cotton ball and re-cap the bottle. Next, hold the cotton ball over a wastebasket and squeeze out the excess alcohol. Then hold the stump in a vertical position with one hand, and thoroughly clean the stump and the skin at its base with the alcohol-moistened cotton ball.

• Applying thick creams and ointments is fastest and easiest if you use a gloved finger or two. These products do not need to be removed at each diaper change, and rubbing and scrubbing can be irritating. Apply more barrier cream or ointment to the diaper area as needed. The thicker the layer of cream or ointment, the more effective the barrier will be.

• Products in tubes are protected by the tube and stay cleaner than those in jars or tubs.

• Keep tubes neat and easy to handle by rolling the end and securing the roll with a binder clip from the office supply store.

• When used as directed, Diaper rash ointment or cream can help prevent and treat the most common type of diaper rash, irritant diaper dermatitis, which can be caused by wetness and/or urine and/or feces. Common ingredients include varying percentages of zinc oxide and/or Vitamins A and D or an oil rich in vitamins A and D. Some products stay on skin better than others. The ones that stay on well are more difficult to remove from skin and clothing. Scents range from odor-free to baby powder to fishy. Some products contain talc, linked to ovarian cancer in some studies.

• If your pediatrician recommends applying petroleum jelly to your baby boy’s healing circumcision site, it’s a good idea to use it as a barrier cream, too, until the circumcision site has healed, so that other creams and ointments don’t accidentally get rubbed onto the circumcision site.

• Creams and ointments containing steroids can cause or exacerbate problems, and should be used in the diaper area only if recommended by baby’s physician or nurse practitioner. Use precisely as directed. If you have questions about the directions, speak with your pediatrician, nurse practitioner or pharmacist.

• Veterinary ointments are not recommended for the diaper area. They are intended for use on livestock and pets. A little internet research or a question to your pharmacist will let you know whether the Food and Drug Administration has approved a product for use on human beings, and if not approved, why it was not approved.

• Sometimes babies get another kind of diaper rash, candidal diaper dermatitis, also known as a yeast infection. This is common in babies who are taking antibiotics or who have thrush (a yeast infection of the mouth). Typically the affected area is beefy red, and you may see little red or scabbed dots of rash, called satellite lesions, around the perimeter of the rash. Candidal diaper dermatitis can be treated with over the counter antifungal creams or ointments.

• Disposing of used diapers can keep you busy. Two ”diaper systems” are quite popular. Isn’t it interesting that our parents and grandparents used diaper pails, and now parents use “diaper systems?” Both types of containers remain relatively odor-free if emptied about once a day. Fortunately, the stool of exclusively breastfed babies has a very minimal odor; so many parents can “breathe easy” until other things are added to baby’s diet. That gives you time to perfect your breath holding and mouth breathing skills.

You may wish to consider the cost of refill cartridges or bags, time and hassle required for changing the cartridge or bag, and odor transfer to air, hands and arms during the emptying process. Misplacing the instructions can make one feel “diaper system challenged.” Fortunately, product web sites either have instructions you can print out, or customer service departments you can contact.

• Changing tables. The bigger the changing surface is, the longer your child will fit onto it. Safety features designed to prevent falls, like elevated sides and waist belts securely attached to a stable, tip-proof base can be helpful. The best safety feature is always one of your hands holding the baby securely at all times. It’s amazing how many things parents learn to do one-handed!

Changing tables that will hold a baby or toddler with his head on the left side of you and his feet on the right work best for right-handed parents. Turning the baby in the opposite direction works well for left handed parents. Changing tables that hold a baby with his head away from you and his feet toward you tend to be too short and too narrow, and don’t allow you to get close enough to comfortably or easily perform tasks like administering eye or ear drops, administering medication by dropper, or taking a rectal temperature. A baby on such a table who also has explosive diarrhea can be very hazardous to your clothing and shoes!

The materials on this web site are for general information and educational purposes only. Information on this web site is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your pediatrician and nurse practitioner, which is always the best source for sound information specific to your infant, child and family. Always consult a physician or nurse practitioner promptly about specific medical conditions affecting your health or the health of family members.

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