Whether you're a parent-to-be making preparations for the diaper changes to come or a new parent fresh on the front lines, the whole thing can feel like a mammoth task. After all, there's much to consider when it comes to changing your baby—containing the bodily fluids, preventing diaper rash, navigating baby clothes with varying methods of snapping (or zipping), not to mention mastering the art of calming an incessantly crying baby.
"Some babies absolutely hate being changed, so the whole thing can quickly turn into a stressful situation filled with unknowns: What fun present will we unwrap? What mood is Baby in? How is this activity going to go down?" says Eirene Heidelberger, parenting coach and founder of GIT Mom. While it's true that diaper changes can be drama-filled and stress-induced occurrences in our new-parent lives, there are a myriad of techniques and solutions you can adopt to help minimize the chaos and maximize the pleasure you get out of them (because there is some to be savored!). Here, parenting experts share their best-kept diaper-duty hacks that ease new parents' lives.
Familiarize yourself with diapering even before Baby arrives
You might think you have your hands full in the months and weeks before Baby's due to arrive, but you can expect to multiply that load by 10 (or 20) once she's here. For this reason, Heidelberger recommends practicing diaper changing well before her due date. "This will get you to used to what needs to be done and when," she says. "Gather your supplies and do a couple of run throughs with a stuffed animal or doll, and make sure you get your partner involved too."
Choose the right leak-free contoured diapers
If you're hoping to make diaper changes easier, less messy, and fuss-free, you'll want to stock up on the right kind of diaper to handle the task: a leak-free contoured diaper. We like Huggies Little Movers, which offer active babies the close fit thanks to its special contoured shape. Bonus: Their SizeUp Indicator clues new moms and dads into when their baby needs to move up a diaper size, so you always know the fit is just right.
Have multiple changing stations
Ditch the solo changing table concept, as it will only serve you well when you're in the nursery itself (which won't be as often as you imagine it will). "This can be as easy as having a few decorative boxes around your home with a changing pad, some diapers, ointment, a little toy, and perhaps a change of clothes," says Susan G. Groner, founder of The Parenting Mentor and author of "Parenting: 101 Ways to Rock Your World." "This is efficient and will also help your child feel more comfortable having his diaper changed anywhere—on a couch, the floor, or the back of your car (where you might also want to have a station set-up!)."
Safety-proof your diaper changing station(s)
You can never be too careful when it comes to keeping your little one safe—and the changing table is no exception. Mary Ann LoFrumento, M.D., medical director of the Newborn Nursery at Atlantic Health System's Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey, suggests making sure your diaper changing area is a secure, flat surface for younger children. Also, never leave a baby unattended even for a second, so make sure you always have everything within reach that you will need. "To avoid the baby accidentally getting into the creams, try putting them inside double plastic zip lock bags (one smaller one inside a larger one) and avoid any powders that are not necessary and also dangerous if inhaled," she adds.
Keep your diaper bag stocked at all times
When you are on the go, be sure your diaper bag is packed with diapers, clothes, wipes, and refill as you need. Alison Mitzner, M.D., a pediatrician in New York City, suggests refilling as often as possible, well before items become emptied, and anticipating Baby's growing size. "The weeks will fly by quickly and your baby will be growing fast in those first months and years," she says. "It just adds stress to be out and about and go for your diaper bag and realize you do not have enough wipes, diapers, or spare clothes you need or they are the wrong size."
As a new parent, you'll quickly learn the importance of mastering the art of distraction. And there's no more important time to use it to your advantage than during diaper changes. In addition to having a physical distraction on-hand for baby, such as a lovie or toy that he can hold onto and play with during diaper changes, Dr. Mitzner recommends singing songs to your baby and maintaining eye contact throughout. "Singing songs that you also sing off of the changing table and other times of the day and know your baby loves will go a long way in helping to keep him calm," she says.
Stay calm yourself
Of course, you can expect some kicking, screaming, or a mess at times, but it's important to stay as calm as possible despite whatever situation might arise. "Staying calm yourself really does have a calming effect on your child and a stressful situation," says Dr. Mitzner. "Take breaths, laugh, and giggle even when your little one is fussy—and keep on changing him despite his mood instead of picking him up and calming him, which will ultimately make things longer in the end."