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umbilical cord cleaning

Newborn Hygiene

How often do I bathe my baby?

Newborns do not get very dirty, and do not need baths every day. The frequency is often based on personal preference but is usually every 2-3 days.

What is the proper way to bathe a newborn?

Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls o (usually in the first 2 weeks of life), it is important that the umbilical stump not be submerged in water. This means that you should give your baby sponge baths only, until 1 day after the stump falls off.

How do I clean the umbilical cord?

Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off (usually in the first 2 weeks of life), you should give your baby sponge baths only. When the cord starts to dry and detach, you may notice some dried blood or mucus; this is normal. There is nothing special you need to do to clean your baby’s umbilical cord, although it is fine to use a cotton swab with some water or alcohol to clean off the mucus as the cord is detaching. Let us know if there is any redness, discharge or foul odor around the umbilical stump site as it could be a signal of infection. After the umbilical cord falls off, you may bathe your baby in a small tub.

When/how do I cut his/her fingernails?

Newborn nails are soft and pliable but can cause scratches on sensitive skin. If your child was born with long nails and they are causing scratching of the skin, they can be cut right away with a baby nail clipper. Don’t expect the nail to “snap” like an adult nail- the cartilage is simply much too soft. Another alternative is putting “mittens” on their hands until you feel comfortable cutting them.

How should I clean the diaper area?

Your baby’s skin is delicate. Use a dabbing motion when cleaning the diaper area. For girls, wipe front to back. The best way to clean the diaper area during a diaper change is with warm water and soft paper towels or cotton balls. If you want to use wipes, wait until at least 2 weeks of age. Invert the container between use so the top wipes are moist and less rough. If you see redness in the diaper area, stop using wipes and switch back to water. Always let the diaper area air dry for a few minutes before putting on a new diaper. When the skin is dry, you can use Vaseline or a barrier cream (such as Aquaphor, A&D, Desitin, or Butt Paste) to prevent rashes from developing. Barrier creams prevent babies’ skin from contacting their stool, which can lead to skin breakdown and yeast infections.

Should I try to retract my infant’s foreskin if we do not circumcise?

One should never force the foreskin back. The foreskin covers the tip of the penis and is not retractable at birth. With time the foreskin will become more and more retractable and is typically completely retractable around 5-7 years of age but may take even longer. Forcibly pulling on the foreskin can cause pain and damage to the area.