How to change a nappy

With our practical guide to nappies, you’ll be a nappy changing pro in no time

Changing your baby’s nappy will soon become second nature, but in the early days even choosing the right nappy can seem a challenge. Read on for some nappy know-how.

With an average of eight nappy changes a day, and up to 12 a day for newborns, you’re going to get through a lot of nappies over the next few months. So which nappies should you buy – and where do you start with the whole nappy change routine?

What's the best type of nappy?

You’ll need to hit the ground running when your baby is born, so it's smart to buy nappies before then. Your choice is between reusable nappies and disposable.

Reusable nappies

The eco-friendly choice, there are different types of reusable nappies (also known as cloth or washable nappies). Some have biodegradable linings that can be thrown away, although washable liners are also available. If the laundry load puts you off, and you can afford it, keep an eye out for nappy laundry services in your area. Cloth nappies are cheaper overall than disposables, but the initial cost is higher.

Disposable nappies

Disposable nappies are worn once, and then thrown away. They are more expensive in the long run than reusable but good for quick changes.

Ultimately, the nappy you choose is down to personal preference.

How many nappies should I buy to start with?

You’ll need a fully stocked change bag packed and ready to take to hospital with you for the birth. With maybe 3,000 changes in your baby’s first year alone, and up to 12 a day for newborns (this will go down!), you’ll need 90 or so disposable nappies to see you through the first week, or 15-20 cloth nappies if you’re going down the eco route. A starter pack of disposables comes with about 45, so a couple of these will do the trick.

What size nappy does my baby need?

Nappies are sized by weight; the smallest ones will fit low birth weight babies. Size chart ranges can differ between major brands and shops’ own-brand nappies. As a size check, you should be able to slip two fingers under the nappy’s waistband or leg elastic – so go up a size if it’s feeling too tight. Frequent leaks are also a sign that the nappies might be too small.

Newborn nappies

Newborn nappies are super soft for sensitive little bottoms and will usually have a notch at the top, so they don’t rub on the umbilical cord stump. Some also include handy wetness indicators that change color when your baby needs changing.

Baby & toddler nappies

When your baby begins to crawl, cruise or toddle around, you can move on to nappies designed to prevent leaks during active play. ‘Active’ nappies are less bulky and have elasticated legs to allow your baby to move more freely.

Nappy pants

These can be pulled up and down, so are great for wriggly older babies and toddlers ready for potty training.

Find the right nappy size for your child

Size 0/Tiny baby (1-2.5kg, 2-5lbs)

Size 1 (2-5kg, 5-11lbs)

Size 2 (3-6kg, 7-14lbs)

Size 3 (4-9 kg, 8-20lbs)

Size 4 (7-18kg, 15-40lbs)

Size 5 (11-25kg, 24-55lbs)

Nappy changing checklist

"Have everything ready, and not just one nappy – several – as they’re sure to do a wee as soon as you put on the new nappy!" says Boots Parenting Club health visitor Angela Davy.

Here’s what you’ll need to change your baby’s nappy:

• Wipe-clean changing mat

• Soft cotton wool pads

• Gentle wipes

• Soothing nappy cream

• Super-soft nappies

• Degradable nappy sacks

• Roomy changing bag