Correctly applying diaper cream is an essential parenting skill. You will probably be using a lot of cream to your child’s diaper area in their first few years of life.
For babies, developing a rash is very common, and almost half of all babies will have one at some point.
It is so common that irritated skin in their child’s diaper area is the number one reason parents seek medical attention for their child.
Even though applying diaper cream is relatively simple, there are eight steps you should follow when applying diaper cream.
Get All Your Supplies Ready
Before you get started, you will need to have a clean baby diaper, baby wipes, diaper cream, and a small toy within arm’s reach.
It may be helpful to have all of these supplies in a diaper caddy, to keep everything organized and make everything easily accessible.
You will also want to have a bag or a spot nearby where you can quickly dispose of the soiled diaper.
Keep Your Child Entertained
The worst thing during any diaper change is a fussy, squirming baby. It is even worse when you are trying to let their bottom dry properly and apply the diaper cream.
These steps take a little extra time. Time that will not be enjoyable if they are not happy.
You can be prepared by giving your child a small toy to keep them occupied and entertained during the diaper change so you can focus on getting them clean and applying the diaper cream.
Remove the Dirty Diaper
Lay your little one down wherever you usually change their diaper. Remove the soiled diaper and dispose of the diaper by putting it in a trash bag, wet bag, or a diaper pail.
Wipe Them Clean
After removing the soiled diaper, clean your baby’s skin by gently patting the diaper area with a baby wipe.
Try to use a patting motion as opposed to rubbing to reduce skin irritation. As much as you want to remove all the yuckiness as quickly as possible, your baby’s skin can be easily irritated.
Once their skin is clean, slide a new baby diaper under your baby’s bottom.
Dry Their Skin
The leading cause of a diaper rash is wet skin due to diaper contents. After cleaning your baby’s diaper area, you will want to dry their skin as much as possible.
You can pat their skin dry with a soft towel or let it air dry for a few minutes.
Try singing them some songs or wiggling their toes to keep them entertained, and hopefully, they will be content for a few minutes.
Apply The Cream
3 Steps to Applying Diaper Cream
- Step 1: Squeeze out a dime-sized amount of diaper cream onto either your pointer, index, or ring finger.
- Step 2: Apply the cream in a thick layer as if you were frosting a cake. The goal is to limit how much you are touching your baby’s irritated skin.
- Step 3: Apply the cream to your child’s bottom, between the cheeks, or on the thighs’ crease.
Diaper cream is meant for external use only, so these are the safe areas to apply diaper cream.
Use An Applicator or Finger to Apply Cream
If you do not want to use your finger to apply the diaper cream, use a diaper cream applicator instead.
Whether you use your finger or a diaper cream applicator, you should never touch the baby’s bottom with the diaper cream container/tube’s opening.
Even though the baby’s bottom was cleaned with a baby wipe, the diaper area still contains bacteria and germs from their fecal matter that will be transferred onto whatever you use to apply the diaper cream.
If you use a diaper cream applicator, it should be cleaned between each use with an antibacterial wipe.
A baby wipe will not kill germs. If you use your finger, wash your hands with an antibacterial soap like you should after every diaper change.
Apply Their Diaper
Wipe any excess diaper cream onto the diaper, and then secure the diaper on your baby’s bottom. Please make sure the diaper is secure, but don’t apply it too tightly.
A diaper that is too small or too tight may cause friction against your baby’s skin. This friction can further irritate the skin if your baby has a rash.
Finally, Wash Your Hands
Once you are done, make sure you wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
This will not only get rid of any germs you may have on your hands from changing the diaper, but it will also remove any diaper cream you may still have on your finger.
If you applied the diaper cream with your finger, it might take a little extra scrubbing to remove the diaper cream residue.
What Do Diaper Creams Do?
Diaper creams are designed to prevent diaper rash from occurring and treat diaper rash once it has happened.
Diaper pastes and lotions usually contain an ingredient called zinc oxide. If you use cloth diapers, you may want to use a diaper ointment because zinc oxide can stain or discolor cloth diapers.
Petroleum jelly should not be substituted for a diaper cream or paste. Petroleum jelly will create a protective barrier for the baby’s skin, but it does not condition or heal the irritated skin as a diaper cream or paste will.
- Protect against enzymes like lipase and protease found in poop that may irritate the baby’s skin
- Create a protective barrier between the friction caused by the contact between the baby diaper and the baby’s skin
- Repel moisture and wetness away from the baby’s skin, creating a moisture barrier
- Condition, soothe, and help heal irritated skin.
How Often Should I Apply It?
Applying diaper cream in the morning and the evening is a good rule of thumb. But it depends on whether you are trying to prevent diaper rash or treat diaper rash.
If your main goal is to avoid diaper rash, then putting the cream on strategically (i.e., when the baby will go without a diaper change for an extended period) is a good idea.
If your baby has a diaper rash, you will want to apply diaper cream several times throughout the day.
And if you notice your baby developing a rash, you will probably want to increase the number of times you are putting cream on them to nip it in the bud.
You cannot over-apply diaper cream, so you can apply the cream at every diaper change. You do not need to apply the cream at every diaper change, though.
When you clean your baby’s bottom during a diaper change, you will remove some of the diaper cream, but a lot will remain on their skin.
So they will still have some of that moisture barrier to protect their skin, even if you don’t apply more diaper cream.
What If It Isn’t Working?
You should notice improvement within a few days of applying diaper cream. If you see that your baby still has a diaper rash after using diaper cream for several days, call your pediatrician.
A yeast infection, requiring anti-fungal cream to treat, might be causing the inflammation. Yeast infections often looks very similar to a regular diaper rash, but it may have more raised bumps than a typical diaper rash does.
Preventing Diaper Rash
Your little one is bound to experience some form of a diaper rash during their time wearing diapers, and these suggestions will help prevent a diaper rash from occurring as much as possible.
- Change wet or soiled diapers right away.
- Check the baby’s diaper every 2 hours (at a minimum). Since diapers are so absorbent, you may not notice that they need a change.
- If they have diarrhea, change their diaper more often.
- Clean your baby with mild and gentle wipes, and pat don’t rub
- Allow the diaper area to dry before applying the diaper.
- Apply a layer of diaper cream to the diaper area every time you will not be able to change your little one’s diaper for an extended time (during the night, long trips). This will create a moisture barrier for your baby’s skin.
- Let your child go without a diaper for a little while to give your baby’s bottom a break. They will most likely enjoy going commando.
- Use the correct diaper size and don’t apply the diaper too tightly.
- Make sure they are completely dry after bath time before applying a diaper.
Diaper Rashes Are Common: Always Be Prepared
It is very common for little ones to get a diaper rash at some point during the years they spend in diapers. Diapers happen to provide the perfect environment for rashes to occur.
Even though preventative measures will decrease the likelihood of a diaper rash occurring, diaper rashes cannot be prevented.
Since diaper rashes are common, knowing the steps to apply diaper cream properly is an essential parenting skill. One you will master with a little practice and lots of patience.