First time parents no doubt have a lot of questions about how to best care for their newborn, including the basics. In this blog post we cover some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to caring for your baby!
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THE UMBILICAL CORD?
- Nothing! No need to use anything to clean it. Let it fall off on its own. This can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. In some rare circumstances, it can last until two months. If it gets wet, pat it dry. Roll the diaper down so the diaper doesn’t cause friction for the healing area. If you notice any foul-smelling discharge or redness/swelling around the stump, notify your child’s clinician.
- An umbilical granuloma can develop when the stump falls off, which looks like a gooey, jelly substance where the cord was. It can also leave discharge on the diaper. If this happens and persists, see the doctor, as they can use something called silver nitrate to dry this up and speed up healing.
DOES A NEWBORN BABY NEED A BATH EVERY NIGHT?
- No! Initially, do sponge baths for any areas needed. Once the umbilical cord falls off, you can begin to bathe them in a baby bathtub, as that area can get wet.
- Start with every few nights. We don’t want to strip the natural oils from their skin. If they tolerate that well and don’t get too dry with proper post-bath moisturizing, then you can go to every other night and then every night.
- Baths serve as part of a great bedtime routine after one month of age, but make sure their skin can tolerate it. You can simply use water, too, (again, so we don’t strip the skin of its natural oils) and use soap every few days. And don’t forget to moisturize after bath time!
CAN I USE BUBBLE BATH?
- I would wait until your child is more into their first year before using bubble baths. It can dry out the skin more, and in girls, can cause more vaginal irritation.
WHAT SOAPS, SHAMPOOS, AND OINTMENTS SHOULD I USE FOR MY BABY?
- Every baby is different, so sometimes what works for your friend’s baby may not work for you.
- Here are popular brands that I like: Aquaphor, Tubby Todd, Bubbsi, and Aveeno.
- In terms of ointments versus lotions: Ointments lock in moisture more, so I prefer it over lotions. Ointments tend to come in jars, while lotions come in pumps.
DO I NEED TO USE BABY LAUNDRY DETERGENT?
- No. But do use a hypoallergenic detergent such as All Free Clear. Babies have sensitive skin, so we want to use something that will not be too harsh on it.
WHAT DO I DO FOR CRADLE CAP?
- Cradle cap is thought to be caused by hormones from mom and is a rash that will go away. It looks like greasy flakes in the eyebrows and scalp.
- If cosmetically bothersome, massage coconut oil into the areas and comb with a soft comb to loosen stubborn spots.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT BABY ACNE?
- This usually develops in the first six weeks as a result of hormones from mom. It’s usually located on the cheeks and nose. It’s best to do nothing, as it will go away on its own, and more products can irritate the skin.
- If very severe or lasts beyond two months, speak to a pediatrician, as we sometimes do recommend topical ointments to prevent scarring.
WHAT ABOUT MY BABY’S DRY, PEELY SKIN?
- This is common. Like snake skin, that dry skin will peel off, leaving their baby skin behind.
- No need to do anything for it. You can apply non-fragranced ointments if it’s cosmetically bothersome to you.
- Avoid ointments on the face, unless directed by a clinician. Ointments on the sensitive face can lead to breakouts.
DO I NEED TO TRIM OR CUT BABY’S NAILS?
- It’s okay if you forget a few days, but those nails can scratch their face. Don’t worry, any scratches will heal and won’t cause permanent damage.
- Newborns love to have their hands near their face, and cutting or filing nails can help prevent those scratches.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT EYE DISCHARGE?
- Some babies can have oozing and discharge from their eyes. This is likely due to a blocked tear duct that improves by one year of age.
- Simply wipe any discharge. You can use a Q-tip or your clean finger to massage the tear ducts a few times a day (where the eye meets the nasal bridge).
SHOULD I CLEAN MY BABY’S EARS?
- Do NOT go into the ear canal to clean. After a bath, use a Q-tip or washcloth at the OPENING. Make sure not to stick that Q-tip inside. It’s not needed and can hurt their eardrum.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO SUCTION THEIR NOSE?
- Babies can be stuffy after delivery, especially C-section babies. This is because they didn’t have the pressure of the vaginal canal to squeeze out fluid during labor.
- Only suction them when they are bothered by the congestion—not sleeping or eating because of it. Otherwise, it’s not needed. You can put some saline in first and then suck out the mucus.
HOW DO I CARE FOR A CIRCUMCISED PENIS?
- In the first two weeks after the procedure, you will notice some redness and healing tissue. This healing tissue will look yellow—its called granulation tissue. If you notice any swelling, let your clinician know.
- Apply Vaseline to the area. This will help allow it to heal and prevent any healing tissue to stick to the diaper, which would NOT be fun if you were to pull off that diaper!
- After it heals, you can stop using Vaseline and do regular baths.
HOW DO I CARE FOR AN UNCIRCUMCISED PENIS?
- Please do not force the foreskin back, as this can lead to more harm than good.
- Simply clean at the tip with regular bath soap and water during baths. Take extra care in noticing that no poop is in that area.
- As they get older, you only retract until there is resistance to clean at tip. You NEVER force it back prematurely.
HOW CAN I BEST CARE FOR A BABY’S VAGINAL AREA?
- Wipe front to back to avoid any risk of a urinary tract infection. This can happen if poop travels to the urethra.
- Make sure to spread the labia and wipe away any poop or urine. No need to scrub and rub, as this will irritate the skin.
- Wiping front to back is good form for all babies, especially girls.