How to change a nappy

Breastfed babies and formula-fed babies can have 6 to 8 wet nappies per day and at least 1 to 2 dirty nappies a day. You will soon see a pattern for your baby. If you have any concerns, contact your public health nurse or GP.

How to change a baby’s nappy

woman changing a babies nappy
How to change a nappy

Be prepared. Wash your hands and get everything you need ready before you begin.

What you need

You will need:

  • a basin filled with warm water
  • a clean nappy
  • clean clothes
  • towels
  • some cotton wool
  • nappy disposal bag

Do not use baby wipes until your baby is 4 weeks old.

Plain water (with no soap or detergent) is best for the first month. The temperature should be about 36 degrees Celsius. You can use a bath thermometer to check this. Always check water temperature with your elbow.

Where to change a nappy

It's best to use a surface that's safe for you and your baby. For example a mat on the floor, a bed or a changing table.

If you are using a bed or changing table, make sure everything you need is within reach.


Never leave your baby alone on a raised surface, even for a few seconds. Babies can roll off changing tables, beds and other raised surfaces. These falls can result in serious head injuries.

Clean and change

  1. Wash your hands before removing the nappy.
  2. Gently lift your baby’s legs by holding their ankles. This allows you to clean underneath.
  3. Clean the baby's genitals and bottom with cotton wool and water or with an unscented wipe.
  4. For girls and boys, always wipe from front to back.
  5. For a baby boy, there is no need to retract the foreskin. Point his penis downwards before replacing the nappy.
  6. Let the area dry. There is no need to use powders.
  7. Slide a new, open nappy under your baby by gently lifting their legs at the ankles. The new nappy should be snug but not tight.
  8. Wash your hands after changing the nappy.

Suffocation risk - nappy bag or sack

a nappy bag and a plastic bag
Plastic nappy bag and sack

Nappy disposal bags and sacks and other plastic bags are a suffocation risk. The flimsy material of a nappy sack can cling to your baby’s face and be difficult for them to remove.

Do not store nappy sacks or any other plastic material within your baby’s reach. For example, on the baby changer, cot, crib or anywhere your baby could crawl.

Building a bond

Nappy changes are a chance to build a bond with your baby. Talk to your baby, explaining what you are doing, while singing and playing with them.