How to choose diapers

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 daycare, check with the daycare provider whether cloth diapers are OK.

How often to change your baby

Usually, you should change your baby's diaper when they eat. 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.
  • Treat the diaper rash:
    • Use an ointment that contains zinc oxide or another barrier cream on your child's buttocks after washing them. You may buy these products at your pharmacy. Follow the package instructions.
    • Do not use rubber pants. Try to use newer pants that "breathe" over cloth diapers such as diaper covers.
    • 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 or baby detergent instead of a strong soap or other laundry detergent. Follow the package instructions. 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.

Exposing your baby's bottom to the air for a few minutes several times each day will help keep their buttocks dry.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022