Is it diaper rash—and what do I do?
By Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell
Nearly all babies get diaper rash at one time or another; it becomes especially common when baby starts to eat solid foods or after antibiotic treatment. How will you know if baby has this skin problem? The telltale red splotches and swollen bumps on the area covered by the diaper will alert you to baby's discomfort, if baby's impatient wiggling and irritability doesn't clue you in first.

It's important that you clean baby's diaper area at each changing and after every stool to help avoid diaper rash. Mostly you just want to be sure you're getting the baby's behind and inner thighs clean and dry. A cloth wet with water or an alcohol-free wipe is all that's really necessary. Be careful, however, not to over clean. You may also want to just sit baby's rear in a tub for a few minutes, if you want to be especially gentle. Afterward, apply some soothing ointment containing zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. Some diapers now have these rash-fighting ingredients in the diaper that transfer to skin while baby wears the diaper. Baby powder is not recommended by most pediatricians, since it can be a danger if inhaled.

Put diapers on loosely to prevent a rash, and be sure to change them often.