Guidance for parents/carers using disposable containment products (nappies, pull-ups, pads)

Guidance on using disposable containment products can help parents and carers with storing and fitting nappies, pull-ups and pads, with using appropriate creams, knowing when to change a nappy and increasing the absorbency of products.

This information applies to babies and toddlers as much as to older children and teens.


Disposable nappies, pull-ups and pads are designed to be highly absorbent. It is important therefore to store them in a dry place, otherwise they will start to absorb moisture. So:

  • DO NOT open packets until ready to use
  • DO NOT store in the bathroom
  • DO NOT store in a shed/garage
  • DO store in original packaging.


It is important to select the right size product for your child, so the person assessing them for containment products will measure them.

  • Before you put the product on your child, you need to prepare it by unfolding it, then folding it in half lengthwise. This shapes it to fit the child’s bottom, and also elevates the anti-leak cuffs. The fold will also help you to ensure the middle of the product is placed centrally, which will also help reduce the risk of leakage.
  • DO NOT shake the product to ‘fluff it up’ – the absorbent granules will not then be evenly distributed throughout, and leaks can occur.
  • If using an adult style nappy or ‘all-in-one’ with four sticky tabs, it is helpful to trial how the positioning of these tabs affects the fit of the product for your child and how well they contain the wee.

Some product manufacturers advise angling the top two tabs downwards, and the bottom tabs upwards in order to achieve a good fit. Other manufacturers recommend sticking the tabs around the waist, parallel to each other. What is important is to get a good seal between the legs and the groin to avoid leakage.

Individual manufacturers provide fitting guidance, often with video tutorials available online, that is specific to their product and we recommend you refer to these guidelines to assist you with fitting these products.


If your child has a sore bottom you may wish to use a barrier cream.

  • DO NOT use an oil based cream, as this will coat the product and block the pores, reducing its absorbency. If the pores are blocked the product cannot wick away the wee, so it stays in contact with your child’s skin, and increases inflammation and soreness.
  • DO apply any creams sparingly
  • DO use a water based cream. Tip: if the cream is hard to wash off your fingers it is not water based
  • DO NOT use talc – it blocks the pores of the product.


  • DO use the wetness indicator on the product to monitor when it needs changing. The indicators may blur or change colour – look for information about this on the packaging. Today’s disposable containment products are cleverly made, usually with a three layer system, which means they are extremely absorbent and only need changing when fully wet, or when the child has soiled.
  • DO NOT worry about the child being smelly if you leave a partially wet product on them - the granules contain a natural deodoriser and they have a low pH to reduce bacterial growth.

Increasing absorbency

If you are going out for the day, or your child is very wet at night, you may look for ways to make the product more absorbent.

  • DO ask whoever assesses your child for products to review their order – they may be able to change to a more absorbent product.
  • DO NOT ‘double nappy’. Putting another nappy over the top is a complete waste of a product – the nappies have a waterproof outer layer, so wee cannot be wicked to the outer product.
  • DO NOT use a regular pad inside a nappy or pull-up – they have waterproof backing so the wee cannot be absorbed properly by the nappy. The wee will spill over the sides of the pad and may increase leaks rather than prevent them!
  • DO use a special insert to increase absorbency – one without a waterproof backing. Ask whoever orders your child’s products for information. These inserts can also be used for girls during their periods, or for any child who is soiling frequently – the insert can protect the main product.

NB Always ask your health care professional to assess your child if they are pooing more than three times a day – this could be due to constipation and overflow, or to an absorption problem.

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