Guest article by: Felicia Fitzgerald, BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Perinatal Outreach Educator, Chicago, Illinois. Last revised: May 15, 2017
While each of your baby’s “first” moments are exciting and memorable, some activities, such as feeding, bathing or diapering your baby, can turn into every day, habitual tasks over time. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you mentally “check out” during diapering, (a task that you might do up to 12 times a day if you are the parent of a newborn!) you’re potentially missing out on opportunities to hug, bond, and connect with your baby daily. By practicing mindful and nurturing diapering during every diaper change, you can help enhance your baby’s development, physical growth, emotional well-being, family bond and sleep quality.
Coinciding with International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day earlier this week – a day focused on raising awareness and educating families about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact early in your baby’s life – as a member of the Huggies Nursing Advisory Council, I am encouraging parents to practice mindful diapering and to take these moments as an opportunity to connect with your baby because we believe every diaper change matters. In fact, Huggies introduced Every Change Matters, the first guide to utilize a routine task such as diapering to educate on developmental care and skin care. Based on this guide, here are some tips on how to set the stage for supportive diapering and get the most out of every change:
- Create a calm, clean diapering area. To avoid scrambling around during this time with your baby, try to keep all supplies – such as diapers and wipes – within reach. As your baby grows, ensure that your diaper is the right size. Diapers are developed with optimal fit for healthy growth and development and to prevent leaks. Also, be sure to wash your hands before and after each change, and use hand sanitizer to clean your hands on the go, as needed.
- Change and check baby regularly. Nurses recommend changing infants’ diapers every 1 – 3 hours during the day and at least once during the night. Remember to also look at the bottom of the diaper to see if stool is present. If stool stays on the skin too long, it can contribute to diaper rash and become dry and difficult to remove without irritating baby’s delicate skin.
- Comfort your baby during stress. Some babies are less fussy during changing time than others, and it may take time before you can distinguish between baby’s stress or other pain they may be experiencing. Softly talking and singing to your baby, keeping your baby as warm as possible during the diaper change, moving slowly and keeping your hand on your baby at all times to keep them from rolling off the changing area will provide them with the comfort of your touch. I know this can seem challenging at 2 a.m., but that calm touch will come with practice.
- Champion baby’s precious sleep. Baby’s healthy sleep is important for his or her growth and brain development. Include a diaper change in your special routine before bedtime. Using diapers with wetness indicators, such as Huggies Little Snugglers, can help you avoid waking baby during diaper checks by providing a simple visual cue. Nighttime changes can be tricky, but again you’ll get the hang of the calm, comforting touch with practice.
- Cherish confidence and closeness from your family connection. Hugs and diapering go hand in hand. I choose Huggies diapers and wipes because they are inspired by parents’ hugs that nurture and care and I begin and end each diaper change with a hug. A study found that these hugs help babies sleep better, help prevent against illness and encourage weight gain and growth. If you use each time that you change your baby’s diaper as an opportunity to hug and touch your baby or toddler, you’re not only benefiting your child’s growth, but there is also evidence that early touch can facilitate a positive transition for parents into their new role as a caregiver, and constructively establish the parent-child bond. Not to mention, everyone can use more hugs, and your baby won’t stay a baby for long!
By practicing mindful diapering and remembering that every diaper change matters, you can take advantage of almost-countless opportunities for healthful bonding moments with your little one. Huggies partnered with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) to provide additional diapering resources, including a booklet for parents. You can click here to download the booklet.
Note: This article was sponsored by Huggies®. Felicia Fitzgerald is a proud member of the Huggies Nursing Advisory Council. Huggies believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, which is why every diaper and wipe is designed to emulate a parent’s embrace. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged program helps ensure all babies get the hugs they need to thrive by supporting hugging programs in hospitals and donating diapers across the country. Learn how you can help at Huggies.com #HuggiesCouncil #KangarooCare #NoBabyUnhugged