A diaper rash doesn’t sound like that big of a deal until your baby gets a really bad one and is absolutely inconsolable until it (finally) goes away. Sometimes you won’t even know there’s a rash—you’ll think your little one is wailing because she’s cutting a tooth or maybe even has an ear infection—and then you’ll go to change the diaper and the evidence will be there, all angry and red and immediately disqualifying you for any imaginary Mother of the Year awards you’d thought you might have been a contender for.
But here’s some good news, mama—there are a few easy ways to keep diaper rashes at bay…and if they do crop up, make them wave bye-bye in a jiffy.
Sometimes diaper rashes can’t be prevented, but here are a few ways to make them a rarity:
- Change those diapers often so your baby is never sitting in wet ickiness for very long.
- Use a protective ointment such as Aquafor after every single change. Some moms swear by natural preventative products, like a little coconut oil or, instead of baby powder, oats ground into a fine powder in the blender.
- Once a day, “air out” your baby by letting him sit or lie on a waterproof fabric or towel for a good 15 minutes without a diaper on.
When you do see red
Try not to panic and just start randomly squirting whatever diaper ointments you have on hand on your baby’s poor tush—some kinds of treatments will actually aggravate certain kinds of rashes. Here’s how to proceed once you’re sure it’s a rash:
- Examine the rash. If it’s bright pink, it’s likely a typical diaper rash and needs a zinc-based product like Desitin, Balmex or (for a more natural approach) California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream.
- If you see small raised pink bumps, you should contact your pediatrician because you might be looking at a diaper rash caused by a yeast infection, and in that case, a prescription for an antifungal ointment might be what the doctor orders. In my own personal experience, using Balmex or Desitin in a situation like this is the absolute worst thing you can do!
- Give your baby plenty of fresh air and change those diapers even more often than usual when there’s a rash.
- If your baby seems to get rash after rash, consider whether you’re using the right diapers (a really good, stay-dry product like Huggies Little Movers might be a worthwhile investment if you’ve been going with a cheaper store brand) or even consider cloth-diapering if this lifestyle is a possibility for you. Moms who use cloth diapers typically report fewer rashes than moms who don’t…but not all of us, of course, have the ability to make this switch.
Jorie Mark is the Creative Director of Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 9.