Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.2 Hygiene

3.2.1 Diapering and Changing Soiled Clothing Checking For the Need to Change Diapers

Diapers should be checked for wetness and feces at least hourly, visually inspected at least every two hours, and whenever the child indicates discomfort or exhibits behavior that suggests a soiled or wet diaper. Diapers should be changed when they are found to be wet or soiled.
Frequency and severity of diaper dermatitis is lower when diapers are changed more often, regardless of the type of diaper used (1). Diaper dermatitis occurs frequently in diapered children. Most common diaper dermatitis represents an irritant contact dermatitis; the source of irritation is prolonged contact of the skin with urine, feces, or both (2). The action of fecal digestive enzymes on urinary urea and the resulting production of ammonia make the diapered area more alkaline, which has been shown to damage skin (1,2). Damaged skin is more susceptible to other biological, chemical, and physical insults that can cause or aggravate diaper dermatitis (2).

Modern disposable diapers can be checked for wetness by feeling the diaper through the clothing and fecal contents can be assessed by odor. Nonetheless, since these methods of checking may be inaccurate, the diaper should be opened and checked visually at least every two hours. Even though modern disposable diapers can continue to absorb moisture for an extended period of time when they are wet, they should be changed after two hours of wearing if they are found to be wet. This prevents rubbing of wet surfaces against the skin, a major cause of diaper dermatitis.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Handling Cloth Diapers Diaper Changing Procedure Procedure for Changing Children’s Soiled Underwear, Disposable Training Pants and Clothing Situations that Require Hand Hygiene
  1. Healthy Children. 2010. Ages and stages: When diaper rash strikes.
  2. Shelov, S. P., T. R. Altmann, eds. 2009. Caring for your baby and young child: Birth to age 5. 5th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.