Baby Basics for New Dads, Part 1
Six things every father should know
Cloth or disposable? Safety pins or Velcro tabs? Kermit or Barney? The dizzying array of diaper choices can make filling out your tax return seem easy. Fortunately for new dads, the newborn options are relatively limited. If looking for disposables, look for an “N” (newborn) and opt for unscented, alcohol-free diapers and wipes; scents or perfumes may irritate your baby’s skin. Some newborn diapers even have a waist notch for the umbilical cord. Or simply fold the top of a newborn diaper away from the site until it is healed.
Whatever your choice, there are some common safety musts:
- Assemble everything you need ahead of time including diapers, moistened and dry tissues and unscented baby wipes, diaper safety pins (if using cloth diapers that don´t have Velcro strips), and a change of clothes.
- Never leave your baby unattended on an elevated surface (including a changing table or bed). Babies, even some newborns, can wiggle and roll. The floor is safest and can make the first few changes easier.
- Keep one hand on the baby at all times.
- Lock all pets out of the room if the baby is on the floor.
- Carefully remove safety pins from the soiled diaper. Stick the pins in a bar of soap (a safe storage option with the soap film making it easy for pins to slide through the cloth.) If pins make you nervous, consider diaper covers with Velcro strips.
- Fold the front flap of the soiled diaper under the baby’s buttocks, clean side against the skin.
- Cover a boy’s penis with a small washcloth to avoid being sprayed.
- Slowly lift your baby’s legs (not too high) and remove soiled diaper.
- Gently spread the baby’s legs (like a frog), to clean genitals and buttocks with moistened, unscented tissues. Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria. Do not forget to clean the folds of skin of the vagina or the underside of a penis and scrotum. Double check your baby’s back, behind the knees, and feet for leaked fecal matter.
- Use the dry tissue to blot (never rub) any residual moisture from the creases of the legs and genitals, as moisture can cause rashes and irritation.
- Place open diaper under the buttocks, lengthwise. If your baby’s umbilical cord has not totally healed, place the diaper higher in back than in front. Gently point a boy’s penis down to keep urine from escaping over the top of the diaper.
- Fold the front of the diaper into thirds by bringing the left and right sides over the padded, middle portion.
- Pinch the fabric together and bring it through baby’s legs.
- Fold the front of the diaper under baby’s belly button. This keeps the diaper away from the umbilical cord and doubles the front layers from three to six. (Place this portion of the diaper in the front for boys and under the buttocks for girls).
- Hold the front of the diaper in place with one hand. Fold one corner of the diaper around the top of the baby’s leg with the other.
- Place your hand between diaper and skin to avoid pricking the baby.
- Slide pin through all layers of the outer fold, but only the top layer of the inner fold. Pins should point away from the navel. Repeat on the other side.
- Check that material is not bunched or pinching by running a finger under the waist and around your baby’s legs. The diaper should feel snug, but not tight.
- Remove the dirty diaper and clean the baby as in steps two through seven above.
- Bring diaper through the baby’s legs and fasten Velcro side strips to front of diaper.
- Fold top of diaper below umbilical cord.
- Check for a snug but not too tight fit around your baby’s waist and legs.
Use a wipe to clean your baby’s hands after every diaper change (cloth or disposable). Wash your own hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
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