CARE FOR YOUR NEW BABY
Does the thought of your newborn’s first bath strike fear into your heart? Get your self-confidence up with these tips
The preparation of the room in which you’ll be bathing your baby is important. Close the windows, curtains and door so that the room stays nice and toasty and there’s no draught. Switch on the heater if it’s cold. Lay out a clean set of clothes for baby and open all the studs and buttons. Have a clean nappy handy, as well as any cream you’re going to use. A soft towel, facecloth and soap have to be on hand. Tie up your hair and take off your watch and jewellery. There should be a dry spot, a changing mat perhaps, where you can put baby down after the bath to get him dressed.
You don’t need to clean your newborn’s mouth, but if you see a white coating on the tongue or on the inside of the mouth, it could be thrush. Take your baby to the paediatrician.
You can cleanse your baby’s eyes with a moist cotton wool ball, one for each eye. Use boiled water that’s cooled down. Wipe gently from the inner to the outer corner to remove any crusty bits. If your newborn’s eyes are clean, it’s not necessary to wipe them.
Wash the hair first. Hold baby with one arm and hand so that his head lies back and down. Place your thumb and a finger over each of his ears. With the free hand, gently pour water over his hair. Wash with baby shampoo and rinse. Cradle cap is very common, and certainly not a sign of dirt. Don’t pick or scratch it. Rather rub with a little olive oil at night, which will help lift the crust so that you can wash it off with shampoo the next day. It will take a couple of days. If it becomes worse, ask your pharmacist to recommend something.
Your newborn baby’s ears are very delicate and don’t have to be cleaned on the inside. You can wipe the outer ear and behind the ear with a moist facecloth if spit or milk gets stuck there. Ensure baby’s outer ear doesn’t bend when you put her down on her side. Take care not to get water into the ears during bath time. Don’t try and pick earwax out – it protects the ear against dirt and dust. Remember to wash in the folds of baby’s neck. Your little one is not yet able to lift her head, and milk and saliva easily run down the neck and get stuck there.
The vagina is self-cleansing, so don’t wash deep in your daughter’s vagina. A white discharge is normal and should just be left alone. A baby boy’s foreskin should also be left well alone. It can’t be pulled back just yet. If you do pull it back, you can damage it. So just move the skin very gently as far as it will naturally go when you’re washing it.
Clean your baby’s cord with cotton wool and disinfecting alcohol. Don’t be scared – cleaning isn’t painful. Give the area around the navel a proper wipe every time you change a nappy. The stub should fall off by itself after 10 days. See a doctor if there’s free bleeding or a foulsmelling discharge.
Babies are often born with long nails; because they’re sharp, your newborn can scratch herself quite badly. Keep the nails short – it’s mostly not even necessary to clip them. You can roll them off with your fingers after a bath, when the nails are usually soft. You can also use a file or nail clipper when she’s asleep. If your baby still keeps scratching herself, put her in mittens so her nails don’t come in contact with her face.
Your new baby’s skin is still very thin and sensitive, and birthmarks are very common. Up to 40 percent of newborns get baby acne, usually when they’re a few weeks old. It mostly occurs on the cheeks, chin and sometimes on your baby’s forehead and is often more visible when your baby is hot or when the skin gets irritated by spit or rough fabric. It’s caused by the pregnancy hormones that are still circulating in baby’s body. Don’t squeeze or use any cream! It doesn’t bug your baby and will disappear by itself. Many babies will have a “stork bite” on their eyelids and behind their head, just above the neck. This also disappears naturally. Only use skincare products that have been approved for newborns. Put some cream on after bathtime to prevent the skin from getting dry.