The Good Nursery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Apply Diaper Cream for Baby Rashes: 9 Easy Steps

How to Apply Diaper Cream

Uh oh! Is your baby’s bottom all red and scratchy?

This is most likely due to skin irritation from frequent diaper changes. 

We all know how smooth and soft a baby’s skin can be. However, what we may not be aware of is how SENSITIVE and prone to irritation that perfect baby skin is.

Wearing a diaper 24/7 exposes your baby’s bum to a constant environment of moisture, bacteria, and waste. 

And this award-winning combination leads to… you guessed it, DIAPER RASH!

The best way to prevent and soothe these rashes is with a good diaper rash cream.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

What Is Diaper Cream?

Diaper rash cream is a special kind of cream applied to a baby’s skin to prevent and treat rashes and irritation.

Applying diaper cream helps prevent diaper rash and irritation by creating a barrier between the skin and other outside irritants such as:

It also helps to reduce any pain or discomfort the baby experiences from the rashes by soothing and moisturizing your baby’s skin. Some brands even actively kill yeast to treat a yeast rash!

Applying diaper cream inside your baby’s diapers is your best bet to prevent making a rash worse.

How to Apply Diaper Rash Cream Correctly in 9 Steps

If you’re a new parent and aren’t sure how to use diaper cream, here’s a 9-step guide to help you.

1. Prepare the Supplies

Basket of diaper supplies

Before you even embark on this mission, prepare all the supplies needed. 

It will be a lot easier when everything is already within reach. 

You will need:

  • Baby wipes (preferable baby wipes made with safe and gentle ingredients)
  • Clean diaper
  • Diaper cream
  • Wet bag or foot open garbage can
  • Baby toy or book
  • Diaper cream applicator (optional)

If you use cloth diapers, you will also need liners and either water or a cloth wipe solution.

We recommend placing all diaper changing supplies in a diaper caddy for easy access.

2. Place the Baby in the Changing Area

Baby being changed

Place your baby on the changing table if you have one. If you don’t have a changing table, you can place your baby on a bed or a play mat. 

MOMMY TIP: Wherever you change your baby, make sure to have your diaper caddy with all the required supplies right next to you to make changing diapers quicker and easier.

Remove all of your baby’s clothes from the waist down to prevent diaper cream from getting everywhere.

Be sure to strap your baby securely to prevent any problems or accidents.

It’s best to use a waterproof mat to help with any potential messes. 

3. Remove and Discard the Soiled Diaper


Carefully remove your baby’s dirty diaper while making sure to keep it away from their reach.

Don’t underestimate babies; if given the opportunity, they can and WILL grab that soiled diaper and nom on it like it’s yesterday’s pizza. 

PRO TIP: Some babies can be fussy and refuse to stay put during diaper changes. If your baby is like this, you can sing to them, talk to them, or give them a toy or book to distract them while you do your job. 

After taking off the dirty diaper, dispose of it quickly in either a wet bag or garbage can. 

4. Cleaning Time!

Baby being cleaned

Thoroughly clean your baby’s bottom. You may use baby wipes or some warm water and mild soap.

If you have a baby girl, be sure to wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from spreading. 

If your baby already has a diaper rash, we recommend using a spray bottle with warm water to prevent further irritation caused by rubbing or scrubbing with a baby wipe. 

TAKE NOTE: Babies tend to pee when you take the dirty diaper off.

PRO TIP: Baby boys tend to spray directly on your face. To try and avoid this, you can put a cloth on his penis to catch any of his attempts of making a mess. 

You may need to learn how to do all of this with one hand while trying to stop your baby from trying out any of the forbidden chocolate (you know what we mean).

5. Dry and Air Out the Cleaned Area

Mother patting baby's butt

Once the whole area has been thoroughly cleaned, carefully pat (DON’T RUB!) the diaper area dry. 

Don’t move on to the next step until the area has fully dried. Any lingering moisture may help feed and harbor bacteria that can worsen the rash. 

Let the area air dry for as long as possible after cleaning.

Air exposure is one of the best ways of preventing and healing diaper rash as it not only allows your baby’s skin to breathe but also discourages bacterial and fungal growth.

We recommend air time of at least 10 minutes.

6. Prepare the Clean Diaper

Folded diapers and teddy bear

Place the clean diaper underneath the baby’s bottom before applying the cream.

This will make it so much easier to secure it in place on the baby without extra fuss.

As a side note, we also highly recommend using diapers made of natural materials!

7. Apply the Diaper Cream

Diaper cream on tip of finger

Once everything is thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to use diaper cream. It is best to have a natural diaper cream on hand.

Take a generous amount on your fingers and use firm strokes to apply a thick layer of cream. Apply the cream thickest where the irritation is reddest. 

If you don’t want to apply the cream with your fingers, you can use a diaper cream applicator. 

Take note that diaper cream is FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

How to Apply Diaper Cream on a Boy:

Boys need diaper cream on the outer genital area, as well as the scrotum.

You may apply diaper cream on the foreskin, but NEVER put it under the foreskin.

Rashes typically do not occur under the foreskin, and the action of retracting the foreskin to apply the cream may cause unwanted friction and irritation.

How to Apply Diaper Cream on a Girl:

If you have a baby girl, be sure to always go from front to back. You can apply the cream in the outer vaginal area but never inside the vagina. 

Both sexes need diaper creams on their butt cheeks.

7.5 (Optional) Apply a Layer of Petroleum Jelly

Some creams can be pretty sticky and cause your baby’s diaper to stick to the skin. This can cause further irritation.

To avoid this, you may opt to apply a layer of petroleum jelly over the layer of cream.

8. Put On the Clean Diaper

Putting diaper on baby

Once the area has been successfully cleaned, dried, and applied with cream, you can proceed to put a fresh, clean diaper on your baby.

Wipe off any excess cream that may have gotten on the clean diaper before fastening it in place.

9. Wash Your Hands (And Baby’s, Too!)

Mother carrying baby in front of sink

Wash your hands with soap and water to ensure you don’t transfer bacteria around. Be sure to wash your baby’s hands, too, as babies tend to scratch their little bottoms once the diaper is removed.

You know how dirty a baby’s bottom can be. We don’t want any of those germs going into the baby’s mouth.

Should You Use Diaper Cream?


Diaper cream is an essential baby item, no ifs or buts about it!

All babies have to wear diapers the majority of the time. 

Rashes will happen regardless of whether you use cloth diapers or disposable diapers.

A baby’s diaper area is constantly exposed to acidic waste and is prone to developing itchiness and redness, often culminating in a nasty rash.

No baby is exempt from this. However, this problem can be prevented and treated with the proper creams!

Where Should You Apply Diaper Cream?

Diaper creams are usually applied where the skin comes into direct contact with the diaper, such as your baby’s bottom and around the anus.

It can also be used on the inner thighs where the diaper meets the legs to prevent chafing and yeast rashes. 

Diaper creams are safe to apply on a girl’s vaginal area or a boy’s penis and scrotum. 

HOWEVER, it is NOT safe inside the vagina or under the foreskin!!

When Should You Apply Diaper Cream?

Diaper cream must be applied when your baby:

  • Is showing signs of irritation/redness
  • Has a rash
  • Is pooping a sticky black poop
  • Has diarrhea
  • Is teething*
  • Has a cold or is taking antibiotics*
  • Has sensitive skin
  • Sleeps for long periods
  • Starts solid foods*

*These conditions require cream as they can give your baby looser or a different stool quality, thus spreading bacteria and causing irritation.

How Much Diaper Cream Should You Apply?

You can afford to be generous in your diaper cream application.

Apply it as liberally as needed.

What NOT to Do When Applying Diaper Rash Cream

Here are a few things that you shouldn’t do when applying diaper rash cream unless you want a bad time.

Applying diaper rash cream

1. Do NOT Put It Inside the Vagina or Under the Foreskin

Diaper cream is for EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

It is only meant for areas that touch the diaper.

The inside of the vagina and the underside of the foreskin do not touch the diaper. There is no need to apply diaper rash cream in these areas.

NEVER apply cream inside the vagina or under the foreskin.

Putting cream in these areas will only lead to pain and irritation for the baby.

2. Do NOT Use It With Baby Powder

Baby powder, especially those with talc, should NEVER be used on broken skin.

This causes irritation and inflammation.

The cornstarch found in the powder FEEDS yeast, which can only worsen a yeast infection or yeast diaper rash!

The powder can also get into your child’s lungs and get them sick.

3. Do NOT Apply It With Dirty Hands

You don’t know where your hands have been and what germs and bacteria are on them. You don’t want to worsen a baby’s infection by spreading bacteria!

Remember to always wash your hands or any tools you may be using before applying the diaper cream.

Frequently Asked Questions

Baby lying down

Do I Need to Put Diaper Cream Every Time I Change My Baby?

You can, but it isn’t necessary to put diaper cream with every diaper change.

You can just apply cream every morning and every night if you want to.

Applying diaper cream at night is more important than applying cream in the morning since diapers at night will be worn for more than 6 hours.

How Often Should I Be Applying Diaper Cream?

If your baby has NORMAL skin, apply it only if they have a rash.

If your baby doesn’t have much problems with irritation or redness, you may only need to apply diaper rash cream when you start to notice the symptoms of a rash peeking through.

You don’t have to use diaper cream as a preventive measure.

If your baby has SENSITIVE skin, apply them at every diaper change.

If your baby has sensitive skin and constant diaper rashes despite your best precautions, it may be best to apply diaper cream at every diaper change as a preventive measure.

Do I Need to Wipe Off Diaper Cream After Every Diaper Change?


Diaper cream exists to create a barrier between the skin and the environment, especially that of a dirty diaper.

If you have wiped off all the waste on your baby’s bum and there’s diaper cream residue from the last diaper change, there is no need to take it off.

Wiping it off may just serve to cause friction on the skin and traumatize it further.

What Should I Be Wary of in a Diaper Cream?

Be wary of these creams and of any creams that contain harmful ingredients for babies, such as boric acid or baking soda.

These can make the rashes worse or lead to even more skin problems!

What Do I Look for in a Diaper Cream?

The best diaper cream is the one that is gentle on the baby’s skin and won’t cause any allergic reactions.

Look for diaper creams with soothing ingredients such as zinc oxide, aloe, and calendula.

Your baby will also be safe with diaper creams that have petroleum jelly and other mineral oils that will prevent irritation.

Take note, too, that most diaper creams are made for disposable diapers. If you are using cloth diapers, you will need to find a safe diaper cream for use with cloth diapers.

What If the Rashes Still Don’t Go Away?

If you already used the best diaper cream out there and the baby’s diaper rash still won’t go away, it may be yeast diaper rash or fungal infections.

Fungal and yeast infections look very similar to diaper rashes but often have bumps and redness, unlike diaper rashes that just look red and irritated.

In such a case, you may need a special antifungal or anti-inflammatory cream that you can get from your pediatrician.

MOMMY TIP: It would be smart to safely store these types of medications in your baby medicine cabinet for quick access.

Final Words

Mother visiting doctor

Diaper rashes are an inevitable part of being a baby, and diaper rash cream works to help treat and prevent these rashes!

We hope this article helped you understand how to apply diaper cream the RIGHT WAY to prevent pain and irritation for your baby.

If diaper rashes and symptoms persist despite your best efforts, it is best to talk to your baby’s doctor to address the situation.

FINAL MOMMY TIP: If it’s DRY SKIN you’re trying to remedy, you can take a look at our guide on the top natural lotions for infants.

About the author

Angelica Graham

A few years ago, Angelica found out about all the plastic and toxic ingredients that got into most children’s products. And this worried her to no end. Because of this, she began to research what the best ingredients and materials were for children and made it her mission to share this information with other mothers.