Is there anything scarier to a new parent than an angry, red diaper rash? Okay, maybe projectile vomiting or massive diaper blowouts. As a new parent, you want to do everything possible to keep your baby happy, healthy and safe. One way to do that is to learn how to properly wipe their bottom. This is especially important when it comes to baby girls. Learning how to wipe your baby girl properly is one way to help prevent that awful, angry rash and to help prevent potential infections. Don't worry, you can do it. Here's everything you need to know about how to wipe a baby girl.
Get Everything Handy
Yes, this step applies to both baby boys and baby girls. The first thing you should do is get everything handy. Changing diapers as a new parent, especially the really nasty, oozy ones, is hard work! It sometimes seems like you need to have an extra pair of hands to do it successfully. Getting everything you need close at hand will make the job so much easier. You don't want to end up splayed out like a diaper-changing contortionist, trying desperately to reach another wipe or the clean diaper you forgot to grab. So keep this list in your head and grab each of these items, every time.
- A fresh diaper. Open it up and have it ready to go.
- Wipes. Not just one or two. You never know!
- The changing pad, if you aren’t using a clean, wipeable surface.
- A fresh change of clothes for the baby if you are away from home. This can save you from carrying your baby out of a public restroom in only a diaper because her clothes got soiled.
Choose a Safe Place to Change the Baby
You might think it would go without saying, but unfortunately, accidents happen frequently when diapering babies. Even very small babies can move around unexpectedly and thrust themselves off of elevated surfaces and onto the floor. This can result in serious injuries or even death. Take a moment for safety each and every time your change your baby.
Before you can wipe your baby girl, you must place her safely on the surface where her diaper change will take place. At home, one of the safest places to change your baby is on the floor. A changing table or other surface works well, too. Just make sure if your baby is on an elevated surface they are securely held in place. Keep a hand on your baby, because she can roll quickly, and don’t ever leave her unattended.
Open the Diaper
Before you open up your baby's dirty diaper to see what’s going on, make sure you have a fresh diaper opened and ready to slide in place. Raise your baby’s legs, holding her feet together. Hold her feet toward her head with a firm but gentle grip so she is not able to squirm or plop her heels back down into a mess. Now open the dirty diaper. If your baby girl is just wet, this change will be a breeze. If she is poopy, things will get a little more complicated.
Wiping Your Wet Baby
Changing a wet diaper requires little wiping. First, remove the old diaper by swishing it out and to the side while sliding your fresh, unfolded diaper under the baby’s bottom. Wipe your baby girl from front to back gently. You can use a moist tissue or washcloth instead of a baby wipe. You just want to remove urine residue that might irritate your baby’s skin. You don’t want to cause further irritation with aggressive wiping. Close the fresh diaper and replace your baby’s pants or other clothes with a dry set if needed.
Wiping Your Poopy Baby
The dreaded poopy diaper doesn’t have to be so scary. You will definitely need more wipes, though. Again, you will begin by opening the old diaper, but depending on the level of poop, you probably won’t want to swish the old diaper away immediately. First, wipe from front to back removing as much poop as you can in a single wipe. Use a second clean wipe to remove all poop from the baby’s buttocks and their back, if things went that far. Slide the old diaper and the dirty wipes out of the way once you've removed the bulk of the poop from your baby.
After you’ve cleaned off the bulk of the mess, it is time to wipe your baby girl more thoroughly. You will use another clean wipe to remove fecal matter from around her genitalia, always wiping from front to back. You never want to wipe a baby girl from back to front, because that can force fecal bacteria into the vagina or urethra. Wipe from front to back to help avoid infections.
Be thorough, but not rough. Clean poop from any crevices and folds. You may need to gently separate folds in order to make sure your baby is thoroughly cleaned. Once you are finished, apply diaper cream if needed. Then put on the fresh diaper.
Dealing with Major Blowouts
Sometimes wiping a baby girl is bound to result in irritation. Even the gentlest wipes can be tough on a baby’s delicate skin. If your baby girl has a major blowout diaper, especially one with diarrhea which can burn her skin, baby wipes may not be the best way to clean her up. Consider skipping the wipes and going straight for a rinse under warm water. Follow with a full bath, or by cleansing the baby’s diaper region with a gentle baby wash.
Watch Out for Signs of Infection
One thing that often takes parents by surprise is the fact that baby girls can get yeast infections. Sometimes redness and irritation is more than simple diaper rash. Infants under 12 months of age are at highest risk. Look out for signs of a vaginal yeast infection when wiping your baby girl. Symptoms can include redness and swelling. Itching and pain can be intense, and your baby may squirm a lot or cry when being changed. A thick, white discharge may also be present.
Babies can also get urinary tract infections. Fever is the most common symptom in infants. They may also have foul-smelling urine and pain when urinating. Sometimes babies with a UTI also experience vomiting or diarrhea. If you suspect your baby has an infection, see your pediatrician. Effective treatments are available, and proper wiping techniques can help lower the risk.
Don’t Leave Your Baby in a Mess
You might not be the best at changing diapers. You might even be a little bit afraid that you’ll do something wrong when wiping your baby girl. But the worst thing you can do is leave her in a messy diaper until someone else comes along to do the dirty work. Refusing to change poopy diapers is nothing to be proud of; in fact, it’s downright cruel.
Both urine and feces can burn a baby’s skin, resulting in that angry, red rash. You may not remember having diaper rash yourself, but you can surely remember having a burn or abrasion. You know how badly raw skin hurts. Now imagine rubbing ammonia or acid into that tender flesh and being left to deal with that pain. Don’t do that to your baby.
You can learn how to properly change your baby’s diapers. And you can learn how to safely and easily wipe a baby girl. Be brave, be gentle, and get it done.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com.