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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Diapers and diaper rash

How often to change your baby's diapers

Cloth or disposable?

You can use disposable diapers or cloth diapers.

Decide what is most important to you: environmental concerns, cost, or convenience.

If your baby is going to a day care, check with the day care provider whether cloth diapers are OK.

Usually, you should change your baby's diaper when he eats. If your baby's diaper is wet or soiled between feedings, change it as soon as possible.

Gently wash your baby's buttocks and genital area with a diaper wipe or a soft cloth and lukewarm water.

You may use a mild soap, but avoid unneeded chemicals. Wipe from the front to the back.

Wash your hands before and after changing your baby's diaper.

How to prevent and treat diaper rash

  • Change the diaper often.
  • Wash your baby's buttocks with warm water and mild soap after each bowel movement or at least two to three times each day. Dry the buttocks well.
  • Exposing your baby's bottom to the air for a few minutes several times each day will help keep the buttocks dry.
  • Treat the diaper rash:
    • You may use an ointment that contains zinc oxide or another barrier cream on your baby's buttocks after washing them. You may buy these products at your pharmacy. Follow the package directions.
    • Do not use rubber pants. Try to use newer pants that "breathe" over cloth diapers.
    • Add one-half cup of vinegar to the water in the cloth diaper pail and soak the diapers. Rinse them once before washing.
    • To wash cloth diapers, use a mild soap instead of a strong soap or detergent. Follow the package directions. Rinse the diapers two or three times.
    • If you use disposable diapers, try to change brands or switch to cloth diapers. Some disposable diapers have powders, which can cause diaper rash.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 04/01/2002
Last updated: 08/22/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts