The rate of intact boys in America is rising, with about half of newborn boys not being circumcised now. As parents who have chosen to keep their son intact (uncircumcised), or as a care provider that changes diapers, it’s important to understand how to change uncircumcised boys’ diapers.
Sadly, some parents choose to circumcise just because they think that caring for an intact boy is complicated and prone to infection – it’s not at all!
There are a number of myths surrounding care for an intact boy, and some of them are harmful for the infant, the correct way to care for him is very simple. I’ll answer some FAQ below.
You can get this information in a free printable to remind care providers by clicking the button below. Feel free to distribute this printable in parent education classes, and anywhere else you feel it could be useful.
So, how do I change that diaper?
When changing a diaper of a boy who hasn’t been circumcised, all you need to do is wipe off the penis with a wipe, just like you would wipe off a finger if it had poop on it. Only clean what you can see, gently. Do not pull anything back.
But I thought I needed to retract (pull back) the foreskin?
There is no need to retract my son’s foreskin to clean, the foreskin is adhered to the glans just like a fingernail is stuck to the finger and has never been forcibly retracted, so there is no risk of infection. You may have heard outdated information, years ago doctors used to forcibly retract the foreskin (and sometimes this still happens), and to prevent re-adhesion and infection from feces getting up in the foreskin, it had to be retracted and cleaned underneath at each diaper change. Now that we know to just leave it naturally attached, there is no danger of poop getting in there and causing infection.
The forcible retraction is also why some people have heard of uncircumcised boys getting infections often, it is much more difficult to keep clean when the foreskin is prematurely retracted and ripped from the glans – it will try to re-adhere (this is also the case for circumcised boys, the foreskin that is left can try to re-adhere) and is painful and prone to infection.
Will the foreskin always stay attached to the glans?
No, sometime around the time the boy is 4-6 (or even later, around the time of puberty), the adhesion will become loose.
This doesn’t sound clean
At the time that the foreskin starts to loosen from the glans, the boy’s parents will teach him how to rinse the glans to clean in the shower, just as parents of girls teach their girls how to clean their pubic area in the shower.
Any feces that gets into the tip (It can’t go far while the foreskin is still attached) will easily be cleaned out with urine the next time the baby pees.
About talking with care providers
You’ll always want to have a conversation with new care providers to make sure they aren’t going to forcibly retract your son’s foreskin. Some people are shy or won’t read the printable because they already think they know what to do. You don’t want them to accidentally harm your son because they had heard the wrong information.
This is what my conversation with new babysitters sounds like,
“Here are the diapers and wipes, have you changed a baby who wasn’t circumcised before?”
Often they say ‘no’
“It’s simple – you may have heard that you need to retract the foreskin, but that’s outdated information. You just wipe the penis off with a wipe the same way you would wipe off a finger. The foreskin is attached to the glans like a fingernail and is self cleaning, so we don’t want to pull it back at all. See – easy, right?”
If they say yes, I still say the same thing to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
When we get the correct information out about how to care for intact baby boys, more people will feel comfortable with the idea of leaving their baby intact. It’s time to squash the myths surrounding caring for an uncircumcised boy.
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