Newborn hygiene and care

By Dr. Ronna Schneider

Your new baby will need bathing and routine care just as do all other members of the family. For the first few days, do not immerse your infant in water until the dried-up cord falls off and heals completely. Use a washcloth with warm water to cleanse the baby. Keep the cord area clean and dry.

Once the cord has fallen off and the umbilicus has completely healed, your may bathe the baby as you wish. Most parents prefer to use an infant bath. Use a mild, non-perfumed soap (Dove or Palmolive, for example) and wash all over. Pay particular attention to the creases and folds. Cleanse the penis or labia with cotton balls soaked in warm water.

The diaper area should be kept clean and dry. Cleanse it carefully with each diaper change. Baby lotion may help protect the area. Topical protective ointment may help prevent diaper rash. Talc, cornstarch and baby powder are generally not recommended.

The finger and toe nails should be trimmed with a clipper as often as necessary to avoid the baby’s scratching his face.

Common signs of illness in the newborn for which you should call us include:

  • fever with rectal temperature 100.4 or greater
  • repeated vomiting (not just spitting up)
  • excessive crying without obvious cause
  • listlessness
  • frequent loose watery bowel movements
  • any unusual rash (not prickly heat rash)