a complete guide to nappies:
small changes

There's no way around it: you're about to get very familiar with nappy changing. Young babies need changing ten to 12 times a day, while for older ones the schedule eases off to (just!) six or eight times a day. On the plus side, you'll get so good at it you could probably do it with your eyes closed – handy for those night-time accidents!

But if you've never changed a nappy before, it might all feel a bit daunting. So we've compiled this guide to help you decide which nappies to use and how to make sure your changes go smoother than a Formula 1 pit crew.

all you need to know about babies nappies

what nappy should I buy?

Reusable nappies are the washable option that's great for the environment and chemical-free – so they're extra-gentle on little bottoms. They've moved on from the terrycloth-and-safety-pin designs of yore, with modern fabrics, funky designs and clever fastenings that make changes easier and prevent leaks. Use them with biodegradable nappy liners, which help to keep your baby dry and stop the nappy getting too dirty.

Reusable nappies can be a big one-off expense when you first stock up, but they usually work out cheaper in the long run and many local councils offer incentives such as cashback, free samples or vouchers. The downside is that there's no getting away from all that laundry!

Disposable nappies are simple to use and leave no washing behind – bliss! They're sold everywhere, so you can stock up in emergencies, even in the middle of the night. There's a price to pay: buying all those nappies for multiple daily changes can be a big expense.

Why not try both to see which works best for you and your little one? Many people find a mix of reusables and disposables works well in the long run.


what you'll need

  • a clean nappy
  • wet wipes – use cotton wool and warm water for a newborn’s first few weeks
  • nappy rash cream
  • a toy or mobile for baby to play with, keeping their attention away from your busy hands
  • clean clothes: even if the nappy change is a smooth success, you never know when your baby might need a fresh outfit!

keep it all handy

Preparation is key: make sure everything is within arm's reach before you start. As experienced baby-changers will tell you, keeping a cloth close by can also be a blessing in case your little one decides to pee as soon as you take the nappy off.


getting down to business

Once you've taken the nappy off, use the wipes or cotton wool to clean the whole area that the nappy covers.[2] Check right up your little ones back – you'll be amazed how far poo can go! Keep smiling and chatting to your baby as you change them.

Gently pat your baby dry and apply cream if they need it.[3] Finally, fasten the new nappy snugly but not too tight: you'll know you've got it right if you can gently slide a finger under the waistband.


tips for boys

Make sure you clean gently all around the testicles and penis. There's no need to pull the foreskin back, however.[1]

tips for girls

Carefully wipe her from front to back to make sure that you don't spread germs from her bottom to her vagina.


clean yourself up

It's a good job you love your little darling so much, because at some point they're going to poo and wee on you: it's happened to us all! Wash your hands straight afterwards and clean up any accidents. Luckily a newborn's poo isn't too smelly and by the time they're on solid food, you'll be a nappy-changing veteran!


[1]. How to Change Your Baby's Nappy, NHS, August 2018.

[2]. How to Change Your Baby's Nappy, Emma's Diary, [Accessed May 2019]

[3]. How to change a disposable nappy, Baby Centre, April 2017