How to Change a Cloth Diaper

Have you decided to cloth diaper your baby but find yourself bewildered when looking at your diapers? How exactly are you supposed to get the parts to work together, and most importantly to work on your baby? There are some fundamental supplies you will need for every diaper change, no matter the style of the diaper used. Once they are gathered, you will follow some basic steps in changing the diaper. There is a slight learning curve with diapering babies, but don’t fret...your baby will make sure you do it often enough that you will know how to change a cloth diaper quickly!  

Supplies You Will Need For a Diaper Change:

  • A clean and safe changing area
  • A clean diaper
  • Moistened wipes
  • A dry pail or wet bag for storing the soiled diaper
  • A Snappi may be needed for prefolds (in place of pins)
  • A dry wash cloth

Steps For Changing a Cloth Diaper:

Step One: Lay your baby down, unfasten the dirty diaper, lift baby’s bottom up by holding his or her ankles and gently lifting upward, remove the diaper and set it aside. When changing a baby boy, you might want to lay a clean, dry washcloth over him so neither of you gets peed on. If changing a diaper on a changing table, be sure you keep one hand on your baby the entire time to prevent him or her from rolling or sliding off the table.

Step Two: Clean your baby thoroughly with wet wipes or a clean, wet cloth. If you need to apply diaper ointment, apply it after you’ve given your baby’s skin time to air dry and make sure the diaper ointment is one that works with cloth diapers. It shouldn’t contain any petroleum since this ingredient will cause the cloth diaper to repel liquid instead of absorbing it.

Step Three: Gently lift your baby’s legs and bottom a couple of inches off the changing table or pad, and then slide the clean cloth diaper under your baby’s bottom. Align the back edge of the diaper with your baby’s waist.

Step Four: Pull the top half of the diaper up to your baby’s belly button (or just below it with newborns) and fasten it closed using either the snap or hook & loop features of the cloth diaper. If the diaper requires an outer cover, double-check that part of the cloth diaper underneath isn’t coming out through the legs or back of the cover. The diaper should fit snugly but not be so tight that it pinches your baby. Use your fingers to check for a good fit. If one finger slides in easily under the diaper’s leg elastics and waist, the diaper is on right. If you can slide three fingers in easily, the diaper is too loose and needs to be tightened.

Refer to the video below for help fastening prefold diapers.

Step Five: Flush any "solids" from the diaper in the toilet, and then put the dirty diaper in the diaper pail. You don’t need to rinse cloth diapers if your baby isn’t eating solid foods yet, but you always want to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions when laundering soiled cloth diapers. Typically this means you wash them within 2-3 days of use.

Watch the helpful video below for a brief visual explanation on how to change a cloth diaper.

How To Change A Cloth Diaper Video