Nappies 101

Nappies 101

Does my bum look big in this?

One of the less-savoury but necessary parts of new parenting is learning how to become a nappy-changing pro. Here’s your guide to nappies from newborn through the first six months

 It’s hard to believe that something so tiny can go through close to 3,000 nappies in its first year! That’s a lot of nappy changes. As a new parent it can start to feel like it’s the only thing you’re doing. The good news is, you won’t be changing nappies forever.


In the first few weeks after birth, your newborn baby will poo during or after every feed and wee every one to three hours. To avoid nappy rash, you’ll need to change his nappy each time he poos and when his nappy becomes too wet. You can expect between eight and 12 nappy changes a day for the first few weeks.

From about week three to week four, his bowels will begin working out their own routine and you may notice his poos slow down to around six to eight a day. Depending on whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed, he can have several poos a day, or nothing for two or three days.


Baby poo comes in a rainbow hue of colours, textures and smells; you can tell a lot about your baby by what’s in his nappy. In his first few days following birth, baby’s poo is a sticky, green-black, tar-like substance called meconium, made up of mucus, amniotic fluid and anything ingested in utero. Meconium poo usually takes about two or three days to work through baby’s system.

Breastfed baby poo is mustard yellow, green, or brown in colour, typically seedy and pasty in texture and may even be runny, resembling diarrhoea. Breastfed baby poo has a sweet smell, unlike regular poo, and it’s not uncommon for breastfed babies to have eight to 10 poos a day.

Formula-fed baby poo is similar to peanut butter in consistency, typically brown or yellow and paste-like. It’s also noticeably smellier and larger in size. Formula-fed babies poo less often, usually only once a day.


The most common cause of nappy rash is wearing a wet or dirty nappy for too long. Baby’s wee and bacteria in poo can irritate him, causing the skin under his nappy to become red, sore and spotty in patches. Other causes of nappy rash include friction from baby’s nappy rubbing against his delicate skin, and a reaction to soap, baby wipes or the washing powder you use.

Treat nappy rash immediately and help prevent nappy rash by:

  • Keeping baby’s skin clean and dry.
  • Letting baby have “nappy free” time to allow air onto bottom.
  • Changing nappies as soon as they are wet and every time he poos.
  • Cleaning thoroughly at every nappy change, wiping from front to back.
  • Using warm water and unperfumed soap or disposable baby wipes to clean baby before putting on a new nappy.
  • Applying a thin layer of barrier cream to prevent moisture reaching his skin.
  • Avoid using plastic pants and talcum powder. Consult your GP or pharmacist if the rash persists or gets worse.


Changing nappies can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it, but here are a few essentials you’ll need:

Nappy change area: Whether you choose a changing table or the floor, having a regular changing area means all of your nappy change items are within easy reach. Choose somewhere comfortable – a waist-high tabletop or a chest of drawers works well and helps prevent backache from stooping.

Nappies: Deciding on which nappies to use comes down to personal choice and what’s best for you and baby. Whichever you choose, ensure nappies fit baby snugly to avoid any leakages and rubbing which can lead to nappy rash.

Baby wipes: Disposable baby wipes clean and sanitise your baby, but warm water and cotton wool are just as effective, especially if baby’s skin is sensitive and prone to skin irritations or nappy rash.

Barrier cream: A good barrier cream will help prevent nappy rash by protecting your baby’s skin from exposure to wet nappies


Most newborn babies don’t enjoy nappy changing time, so getting his nappy changed quickly is usually a priority. As baby grows and learns to wriggle, nappy changing becomes a little more challenging. Here are our nappy changing tips:


Ensure you have everything you’ll need in your nappy changing area so you won’t have to leave baby unattended. Keep your baby wipes, clean nappy, barrier cream, and a change of clothes within easy reach to ensure a smooth nappy changing process.


Keep a few toys on the change table or hang a mobile above your changing area.


Make nappy changing fun by involving your baby. Tickle him, move his legs, blow on his feet, or gently roll him from side to side. Nappy changing is an excellent time to interact with your baby (unless it’s the middle of the night when you want to keep him calm and quiet).


Stay smiling even if baby is voicing his displeasure at having his nappy changed. Try singing quietly or saying a rhyme to distract baby.


Many mums avoid changing baby at night as it may be harder to get him back to sleep afterwards. Unless his nappy has leaked or he’s done a poo, it may be best to just leave changing the nappy until morning. If you do need to change baby during the night, these tips may help:

  • Organise your changing area before bedtime so middle-of-the-night nappy changes are smooth and speedy.
  • Try changing baby’s nappy mid-feed so you have time to settle him again with the last of his feed.
  • Keep baby warm while changing his nappy as a sudden change in his body temperature may upset him.
  • Use a night light to keep the room dim and avoid waking him fully.

More On Nappies And Poo From BUMP&baby:

How To Make The Best Decision On Nappies

Getting Off To A Plastic Free Start

50 Shades Of Poo

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BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.

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