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5 Diaper Changing Questions Every Parent Asks

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Board Certified Pediatrician
January 3, 2019 . 2 min read

1. Do I have to use a diaper changing station every time I change my infant’s diaper?

No. While a dedicated diaper changing area in your home is nice and limits the potential spread of germs, the reality is that most parents will be changing diapers while on the go, at friend’s homes, in restaurants or the like. What is important is that you have all needed equipment with you: a large pad to spread out, diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer for parents. Ideally, you would also have something to wipe down the changing pad if you’ve had to lay it on the floor or on a changing station in a public bathroom.

2. Are there any off-limits places to change a diaper?

Yes. Do not change a diaper on any surface associated with food. That includes tables, kitchen counters, and picnic blankets. Even small amounts of bacteria can be transferred from the diaper, the diaper pad, the baby, or your hands, and bacteria can put others at risk for food borne illnesses. Never take a baby out of a car seat in a moving car to change a diaper. Never leave a baby unattended or out of arm’s reach on any surface off the ground while changing a diaper. When flying, ask the flight attendant where they prefer you to change the diaper. Do the other passengers a favor and do not change the baby in a seat.

3. Must you wash hands after each diaper change?

Yes! Even with diapers that are only filled with urine, or wet diapers, we need to wash our hands afterward. Warm water and soap are ideal, but hand sanitizer works in a pinch. Once babies become squirmy toddlers, it’s also a good idea to wash their hands after diaper changes too. Use warm, soapy water, or an alcohol-free hand sanitizer on their little hands. Clean any toys that you used to keep them distracted during the diaper change.

4. Where do I dispose of a dirty diaper?

It’s a great idea to keep a separate diaper disposal area when you are at home. When out of the house, keep a set of plastic bags that you can use to wrap up any used diaper, then ask where the nearest appropriate place is to put the diaper. For example, many pediatric offices have a specific trash bin, located out of the exam room, for dirty diapers. This keeps smell and germs isolated.

5. Do I need to clean my diaper bag?

Yes. It’s a good idea to periodically clean your diaper bag. For most people, diaper bags carry diapers but also snacks, toys, clothes, and other essentials. Cleaning it and the diaper pad that you use keeps germs from touching other surfaces that might wind up in or around your child’s mouth.

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