When it comes to toilet time, babies have no control over what comes out, how and when. Removing the soiled nappy, cleaning up your baby and changing them into a fresh one can be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. So step forward new dad. Your role, as a modern hands-on father is to perfect the knack of changing the nappy, which is easier when you’re familiar with the tools you have on offer; namely disposable or reusable (previously called Terry or washable) ones. Which type you opt for is down to you and your partner. As with so many aspects of new parenting, a bit of trial and error may help you decide. Once the waste has been hosed into the loo, the reusable ones can then be kept in a special, sealed bucket and washed. They can last for ages, which is handy as your kid can get through 10 nappies a day during the first few months, no problem.
Whilst the disposable nappies don’t require any cleaning and are much more convenient, they’re not great for the planet or the pocket. Until your baby is potty trained, it’s estimated that disposable nappies will set you back around £2,500. Reusables will reduce that outlay by around two-thirds over the same period.
Depending on where you live in the UK you may even have access to a nappy laundry service – yep, literally no shit Sherlock - as you get someone else to do the dirty work for you. Whatever type of nappy you use, a few essential baby changing tips from dads who’ve gone before you include:
Be aware - removing a baby’s nappy and exposing their nether regions to cooler air can trip their personal sprinkler system, potentially giving you a soaking.
Keep it flat – change your baby on a flat, stable surface, ideally with a changing mat between exposed baby’s bum and your carpet or changing table.
Arm yourself – like a surgeon about to perform an intricate operation, you need to surround yourself with the tools – baby wipes, disposal bags, fresh nappy etc before you start.
Keep ‘em clean – clean and dry your baby thoroughly and apply any creams you’re using before putting on the fresh nappy.
Since you never know when you’re going to need it, be sure to pack your dad bag with changing gear whenever you’re taking your nipper out alone. There are also phone apps available indicating which local stores, coffee shops and pubs have baby changing facilities.
Rob Kemp is the author of The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide and The New Dad’s Survival Guide (Vermillion Books). He regularly writes on the subject of fatherhood for The Telegraph and his work on this topic has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Men’s Health and Mother&Baby. He’s the former editor-at-large for FQ (Father’s Quarterly) magazine and his new book on positive male role models, The Good Guys, publishes in Sept 2018.