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3 Skills New-Moms Must Master

While you basked in the glow of new motherhood, hospital nurses (and your know-it-all mother-in-law) made it look easy. But now you're home and flying solo. Diapering, swaddling and bathing are all up to you and your significant other. They may seem like daunting tasks when you're so bleary-eyed you can't tell a dipe from a wipe, but fear not! We're here to support you (hug) and to help eliminate any confusion that could put a damper on your homecoming.

Diaper Duty

You stocked up on tiny little diapers months before the baby was born, and now it's time to put your changing skills to the test. There are some important things to keep in mind when you're new to diapering (getting doused being one of them!).

You'll need to start off by making sure your supplies -- a clean diaper, baby wipes or damp washcloths, diaper ointment, a changing pad or a towel to put under baby -- are within arm's reach. A plastic changing pad is easy to clean should your first tries not go so smoothly, and a diaper ointment with moisture-blocking zinc oxide works well at warding off rashes.

Where you decide to change the baby is all about what's safest. Kate Cronan, M.D., medical editor of KidsHealth.org, an award-winning children's health website run by the Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, advises parents to strap their baby to a changing table with barriers around all four sides or on a mat on the floor so the baby can't fall.

Once you've gathered supplies and picked your spot, the dirty work begins.

Step 1. Remove and discard the soiled diaper. Using baby wipes or a damp washcloth, gently wipe your baby clean from the front to the back to prevent spreading bacteria from the rectum. (This is especially important on girls.) If you're changing a boy, beware: You might get an unwelcome spray! Pee-pee Teepees (yes, they're little cloth tents that cover his penis) are popular with moms of baby boys, but a clean diaper placed over his penis is a fine shield, too. Pat baby dry and apply diaper ointment.

Step 2. Lift baby's legs (Cronan advises holding the ankles with one hand), open the clean diaper and slide it under. The adhesive strips should be level with baby's navel. Bring the front of the diaper up between her legs, being careful if her cord stump is still attached. Newborn diapers are available with umbilical-cord cutouts to accommodate the stump, but if you're using a regular diaper, simply turn down the top so it doesn't touch the stump. Undo the adhesive strips, wrap the diaper around baby and fasten snugly.

Quick Tip: If your baby seems irritable after her change or you see red marks around the baby's thighs and waist, then you may have made the diaper too tight, Cronan says.

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