The Trials of Nappy Irritation – Why I Protect Against the Causes of Nappy Irritation

Nappy irritation is something that all three of my children have had in varying degrees.

My eldest Reuben suffered from nappy irritation the most, whether that was because we didn’t know the best ways to protect against it yet, being new parents and all, or because he was the world’s biggest fan of fruit I’m not sure. I thought nappy ointment was something you used AFTER nappy skin appeared, not to prevent it. Silly me. By contrast, I had wised up with Toby and knew that a good dosing of nappy ointment at every nappy change essential to protect against the causes of nappy skin and provide protection for the nappy area.

With my experience in mind, I thought perhaps I could share a few of my tips with you. Obviously, it should go without saying that this is 100% what worked for me and in no way is this medical advice, if you’re at all really concerned please do get in touch with your GP – I’m not a professional, just a mama who has been through it.

My top tips for protecting against the causes of nappy irritation.

Nappy free time

I remember creating a little zone for Reuben with blankets and cushions around the perimeter so that I could keep him in the one spot. Then off came the nappy! Swoosh! Nappies can be quite damp places, so taking them off as and when you can is really important. Even after Reuben had developed nappy skin, we still kept this up while we treated it and we saw a drastic reduction in how often he had a repeat bout.

Newborn laying in bed with rose petals as soft as baby skin moisturizing cream.
Use a good nappy skin ointment

I always kept a tube of baby ointment in my changing bag. Always. I learnt the hard way with Reuben that it’s far more beneficial for your child if you applied a small amount of ointment at the nappy area after every clean nappy instead of waiting until there was no other option and you needed treatment ointment. Protection is the way forward mamas, particularly at night when the nappy is on the longest!

Nappy rash cream can be uset to prevent the rash, not only to treat it.
Cleaning properly before putting on a fresh nappy

I remember my mother in law telling me that she was so pleased to see that I used a wipe every time I took Reuben’s nappy off. I was a bit puzzled… what else did she think I was going to do? When I questioned her on it, she told me that over the years she had known so many mums who just take off the wet nappy and, unless it was soiled, replace it with a fresh one without cleaning the nappy area first. Urine can be really harsh on baby skin (any skin actually) so it’s so important to make sure you wipe the area first, whether it be a poopy nappy or just a wet one.

With a good barrier cream, baby laughing in bed is a common look.
Boys and girls have different creases to clean

It’s true, I actually think girls are easier to clean than boys – other than in the instance of a poonami. It’s really important to make sure that you clean all of the creases in both cases. With my little boys, it’s often under the testicles that was missed when cleaning (obviously not intentionally, but if it’s just damp, you don’t see anything to actually clean and it can be missed) and that would become sore. Proper cleaning is essential, followed by applying a barrier ointment to help protect against any soreness creeping in. For Edith, it’s the opposite, where over cleaning can cause an issue.

So those are my tips. What I would say is if your little one does develop nappy irritation, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all. There is a reason that it is so commonly referenced and dreaded amongst mums. The most important thing that you can do for nappy irritation is protect against its causes with some baby ointment, not try to treat it after it happens.

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Harriet is a mama of two little boys called Reuben and Tobias and a daughter called Edith. She founded the popular parenting blog Toby & Roo in recognition that parenting can be hard and we all need some support sometimes!