How to make baby changing safe and clean?

Photo credit: Unsplash

Diaper changes can be an ugly business. Even when your baby or child is at her most cooperative, it can get awfully messy very fast. Just imagine a squirming baby, arching her back and screaming at you. You get the idea. Our main two hazards here are high surface if you are using one and germs. How can you make baby changing safe and clean? Scroll down for some tips.

1 Choose a place

If you decide to change your baby on a changing table or any high surface, don’t leave your baby alone, not even for a second. Babies can suddenly move and flip over the edges of a high surface.

Our friends had to rush their baby boy to the hospital after he fell from the changing table on the hard floor. This accident happened in a flip of a second when the boy’s dad turned to grab socks from the drawer. Luckily for the boy, he only ended up with a small bruise on his back.

For added security, do the following:

  • Choose preferably a changing table with a safety strap. Beware that strapped-in babies should also remain within arm’s reach. If your changing table doesn’t have a strap, your second-best option is you. Keep your eyes on him at all times and most importantly, don’t leave him.
  • Brace the table to the wall and choose one that is concave, so that the middle is slightly lower than the sides.
  • Keep a soft rug next to the changing table or bed to provide cushioning in case of a fall.

If you decide to change him on the bed or the floor, use a changing mat. You don’t want to be spreading germs everywhere.

I used a bathing/changing table from day one. I am easily prone to back pain and wanted to avoid that. The changing table I bought was second-hand and did not come with a safety strap. Nonetheless, it worked perfectly for us. We were especially able to clean up easily after the spray of urine in the first few days. If you have or expecting a boy, you will know what I am talking about. As added security, we kept one hand on him at all times. When my son started rolling over, we stopped using the changing table and we moved to the floor mat. When he was about eleven months, it got impossible to make him lie down to change him. This is when we started using nappy pants and changing him standing.

2 Be prepared

Keep your diapering supplies stocked and within your reach

Before you yank off your baby’s diaper, take a quick look to make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want to be in the middle of a diaper change to realize you are out of wipes.

Not all baby wipes are created equal. Some have more chemicals than others and can irritate sensitive skins. When my son was born, we used cotton wool and water to clean him. That didn’t last long; only two weeks, I think. It was so much effort. So, we switched to water wipes. They worked wonderfully for us. We still use them till today. I put a link for the water wipes below.

Keep distractions ready

For the first few months, you will not be needing that. But once your baby is older and squirming, changing him can become a real struggle. What’s the best way to describe the scene? Yes, a battlefield. If you are wrestling with your baby and rushing to finish, you are more likely to be spreading germs. Solution? Keep a couple of toys up on hand that you can use to divert her attention. Just a couple of extra seconds may be enough. Once you finish and if the toy got in the middle of the battlefield, make sure to wash it off or disinfect it afterward.

The changing table we bought had enough storage space. We used that space to store the diapering supplies. We also had a diaper pail right next to the changing table for disposing of dirty diapers. This way, everything was within reach. When we moved to the floor mat, I put all the diapering supplies in a basket which we kept close.

3 Wipe carefully

Wipe carefully from front to back to avoid introducing bacteria into the urinary tract and having your baby developing infections. This is very important, especially if you have a girl. That doesn’t mean that boys cannot get Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) too.

A friend of mine had to rush her baby girl to the hospital as she was struggling with a high fever for several days. It was at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic and there was a big fear that the little one might be infected with the virus. Luckily, it turned out to be a UTI which was easily treated with the right antibiotics and the girl got better within a few days.

4 Wash your hands right away

When you finish changing your baby, put him in a safe place, his crib for example, and wash your hands. This is no different than washing your hands after going to the washroom.

You might get distracted after changing a baby and forget this step. Please don’t. You would be putting yourself and your entire family at risk of getting sick. And nobody has time for that.

Hand-foot-mouth disease for example is one of those illnesses transmitted by contaminated hands. This disease is most common in children in childcare facilities because of frequent diaper changes and potty training, and because little children often put their hands in their mouths. Hand-foot-mouth disease and other infections can be prevented by practicing good hand hygiene.

So, make it a habit of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds in hot water with soap. If soap and water are not available, then the next best thing is using an alcohol-based sanitizer with an alcohol concentration between 60 and 95 percent. Beware that hand sanitizers don’t work as well if your hands are heavily soiled or greasy.

5 Wash your baby’s hands

While changing your baby, his hands or feet might land in the poop. Nasty, I know! Unfortunately, it does happen, especially if you have a squirming baby. So before putting his clothes back on, double check to make sure he is clean.

Whether or not you’ve actually seen your baby touch anything nasty during the diaper change, it’s still a good idea to wash her hands once you’re done. I know it’s easier said than done, but at least you can try.

6 Clean and disinfect the changing area

Regularly wipe down the changing table with soap and water or a disinfectant. Clean the diaper pail as well, inside, and out. Be especially careful if you have more than one kid using diapers. A dirty changing area is an easy way for your two kids to swap germs.

What other steps did you take to make baby changing safe and clean? Share your tips in the comments below.

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