A baby's growing body often baffles first-time parents. Why is your baby's scalp peeling? Should you worry about the vivid rash on the back of your baby's neck? How frequently do you need to bathe your brand-new baby?
Below, we'll assuage some of your worries with a tip to toe rundown on your newborn's hygiene. By the time you finish reading, you'll better understand how to care for your newborn and when to call a doctor for assistance.
1. Gently Rinse Hair and Scalp
New babies are prone to a condition called cradle cap, which looks like dandruff and may make you think you don't scrub your baby's scalp frequently or hard enough at bath time.
However, cradle cap isn't dangerous and usually resolves on its own. Don't try to scrub the flakes of skin out of your baby's hair or off his or her scalp - doing so irritates the area. Instead, give the baby a bath every three to five days, and take extra care with his or her hair.
You can wash your baby's hair even if the umbilical cord hasn't fallen off and you're still giving sponge baths. To do so, hold the head back, keep a firm grip on the neck, and dribble warm water across the scalp, being careful of your baby's eyes.
Using either your palm or a pre-washed baby washcloth, gently massage scent-free baby shampoo into your child's hair or across his or her scalp, and then rinse with warm water.
2. Pay Attention to Eyes, Ears, and Noses
Just as with adults, babies' eyes, ears, and noses are prone to accumulate gunk. Unlike adults, babies can't deal with these areas of the body themselves. However, keeping these body parts clean for your baby isn't too challenging:
- Eyes: At bath time or bedtime, sweep a damp washcloth just beneath the eye from the inner corner to the outer. Don't use soap, which can irritate your baby's eyes. Use a different corner of the washcloth to clean each eye to prevent cross contamination.
- Ears: Use a damp washcloth to gently clean the outside of your baby's ears, paying special attention to any spit-up that may have dribbled into the ear. Never use a Q-tip to clean the inside of a baby's ear. Simply wait for any earwax to push itself out and remove it with a fingertip or washcloth once it's visible.
- Nose: Use a bulb syringe to remove mucus from your baby's nose. Gently insert the bulb's tip into your baby's nostril to suction out accumulated mucus. Sanitize the bulb after use.
Ear and eye infections are usually serious enough to warrant a trip to the doctor, as is a cold that stuffs up your baby's nose with mucus. A bulb syringe might not be enough to keep your child's nasal passages clear while he or she works through the cold, so visit your doctor and ask about supplemental measures to help your baby breathe, like a humidifier.
3. Trim Nails as Needed
Babies' fingernails can be incredibly sharp, which isn't just a problem for a new parent trying to feed their child without getting clawed. Those sharp fingernails are also dangerous for the baby, who can scratch their face or even their eye, causing an infection.
Trim your baby's nails a few times a week using baby nail clippers, not adult nail clippers. Don't trim too close to the quick, but do cut straight across and low enough that your baby's nails are no longer sharp. Toenails grow more slowly than fingernails, but make sure to trim them the same way around once a week.
Concerned? Visit a Doctor
Following the three tips above can help your baby stay healthy and happy. However, along with typical newborn visits, you should take your baby to the doctor if you have any concerns about your child's health. Live in Hampstead? Schedule an appointment with Hampstead Medical Center PC. Our doctor is happy to help new parents navigate newborn care.