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General Care of Your Newborn
Sponge bathe your baby until the umbilical cord has dropped of and the
navel has healed.
Establish a routine (pick a time of day that you are least likely to be disturbed or interrupted).
Choose a room free of drafts with temperature slightly higher then usual.
Gather all supplies: basin of warm water, change of clothing, wash cloth and towel, mild soap, comb or baby brush, diaper, cotton tipped applicators, cotton balls, alcohol or other cleanser as indicated by your doctor for cord care, and petroleum jelly for circumcision.
Cleanse eyes first. Use plain water and one cotton ball per eye. (If washcloth is used, use one corner per eye.)
Cleanse external ear with moist cotton tipped applicator. Clean only what you can see. (Do not insert anything into the ear. Any way, mucous, or dried blood will come out on its own.)
Cleanse face with clear water — no soap.
Bathe baby with mild soap and water, starting at neck and working down. Be sure to get in folds and creases, especially behind the ears.
Pat dry. Be sure to dry in folds and creases.
Shampoo hair with baby in football hold. Dry and comb hair.
Apply appropriate cleanser to cord. Apply petroleum jelly to circumcision, if needed.
Bundling your baby snugly in a blanket gives the baby a sense of security and can help when baby becomes fussy or little hands need to be restrained at feeding time.
Dress your baby according to the temperature. On cold days your baby will
need a snug knit hat.
The navel should be cleansed with a cotton ball moistened with alcohol with each diaper change, unless specified otherwise by your doctor. The areas
should be kept dry and exposed to air as much as possible. When the cord drops off (10 to 20 days), there will be a small amount of drainage for a few days. Continue to use alcohol on the navel until it is completely healed.
Diapers should be changed frequently to prevent diaper rash. Use a wet bath cloth or wet white paper towel to clean your baby’s bottom at each diaper change.
If your baby develops a rash, you may use a zinc oxide ointment or petroleum
jelly prior to diapering. Also, exposing your baby’s bottom to air is helpful in clearing rashes. If the rash persists, call your pediatrician.
Penis / Circumcision
Apply petroleum jelly (vaseline) at each diaper change until healed (about 7 days). Then keep penis clean by washing with mild soap and water. Rinse well.
Call your pediatrician if there is pus or discoloration, or if the normal skin
of the penis becomes red or inflamed.
Keep penis clean. Do not attempt to push foreskin back unless instructed by
Girl babies are sometimes swollen and red due to hormones that they receive
from their mothers. Gently clean bottom from front to back with plain water. You may also notice a white or pink discharge in the diaper area. This is normal, and again due to hormone changes.
Boy and girl babies sometimes have a “brick colored” urine. This is normal.
Avoid lotions, powders, and oils on your baby’s skin for the first three months. Your baby’s skin may be dry and peeling at first. You may use a small amount of Lubriderm, Eucerin or Lanolin on excessively dry skin.
Your baby’s nails are often attached to the skin so you should wait until they separate before trying to cut with baby scissors. Use an emory board or nail file to smooth nails until they separate.
(“Soft spot” on your baby’s head where bones have not closed.) It is normal
to see the fontanel beat with your baby’s heartbeat. When bathing your baby, do not be afraid to clean this area as you clean the rest of the head.
Report if you notice the fontanel bulging or sunken.
Most jaundice (a yellow tint to baby’s skin) in the newborn is a normal event and is not considered serious. In most cases it will disappear after a few days, often without any special treatment. If your baby has jaundice, try not to worry. it is fairly common in newborns.
Remember to offer extra fluids between feedings. You can also do “sun baths”: undress the infant as much as possible without endangering temperature stability to allow skin exposure through the window to outside light. This will help reduce the jaundice. Do this for 30 minutes at least three
times per day. Call the office if the skin becomes increasingly yellow, or the
whites of the eyes become yellow.