Baby grooming is necessary for good health. Each part of the body needs specific care and hygiene that must be taken into account, and even more so in the case of a newborn.
The baby cannot be completely immersed in the bath water until about 48 hours after the umbilical cord falls off. During these two days when the baby cannot be bathed, his daily hygiene should be carried out with a sponge soaked in warm water, cleaning his entire body except the umbilical cord area . You can also use specific cleansing milks sold by many commercial brands.
You can start bathing the baby as soon as the umbilical cord has fallen off and has completely healed. The main instructions for this first bath are:
- Soap: its use is not essential, although it would be recommended in the area of the bottom to improve its cleanliness. The best option is a specific soap for babies or newborns or a soap-free gel that cleanses without damaging the baby’s delicate skin .
- Water: it must be at body temperature of about 37 ºC.
- How to dry the baby: after the bath, the newborn should be gently dried, patting it dry, leaving the folds, the bottom and between the fingers very dry. In this way, irritations and infections are prevented. Newborns are born covered in a fatty layer that protects them: the vernix caseosa . Normally, during the first days there are remains of it. Do not try to remove them abruptly, they will disappear and be absorbed by the skin over the days.
- Bathing as a routine: daily bathing is recommended, as one more routine for the baby. It should be a time to enjoy and for the little one to relax and bond with the parents. The bath can be used to stimulate the newborn, for example, by singing songs that talk about water and soap.
Each part of the body needs specific care and hygiene that must be taken into account, and even more so in the case of a newborn.
the umbilical cord
The rest of the umbilical cord, which remains in the baby after birth, falls off during the first 2-4 weeks of life. Being scrupulous and methodical with the cure of the cord can save us many problems as well as ensure proper healing.
The cord is cured a couple of times a day with gauze and 70º alcohol. There is no need to be afraid of harming the child since the cord is not sensitive. At each diaper change, special attention should be paid to the cord, preventing secretions (faeces or pee) from being deposited in that area.
The fall of the cord should not be accelerated, it should fall on its own and you should not pay attention to everything that “popular knowledge” advises to improve the aesthetics of the baby’s navel , since it can cause infections that leave worse scars and complicate health. of the baby.
Hair hygiene is part of bath time.
Specific mild shampoos for babies should be used. Afterwards, the hair should be combed with suitable soft-bristled brushes. It is not recommended to put cologne in the newborn’s hair as it can bother or irritate the strong smell, especially if it contains alcohol. The cologne can be put on your clothes and it will achieve the same effect.
In case the baby has cradle cap (small greasy flakes on the scalp), apply almond oil or another specific product for cradle cap on the scalp for 10 minutes and remove it with the shampoo; then comb the hair trying to remove the flaking without irritating the scalp.
After bathing, it is best to moisturize the skin . Many newborns shed their skin, especially on the ankles and wrists. The skin of newborns tends to flake and is very thin and delicate, because it does not yet have the typical protective structure of adult skin.
Vegetable oils (almond or calendula oil) or specific moisturizing creams for babies, hypoallergenic and, preferably, without parabens or perfumes, should be used.
You can take advantage of the moment of hydration to perform a good massage on the baby . Infant massage strengthens the bonds between parents and children, increases immunity and relaxes the newborn. Caresses calm the baby while our closeness stimulates her senses, not just touch. The baby sleeps more peacefully and eats better after the massage. Massages relieve gases that cause discomfort to the baby. Links are strengthened and a fabulous time is shared. In addition, touching the baby favors her development. On the other hand, if you have a face irritated by slime, there are specific creams on the market.
The newborn needs to keep the skin of the bottom clean and dry to avoid irritation . The use of wipes should be minimized and, instead, the use of the sponge with warm water or a specific cleansing milk should be prioritised. Wet wipes can be irritating, but they’re a good resource when you’re out and about.
- In children: all the folds should be cleaned and dried well without rubbing.
- In girls: it is important to always clean from front to back, in order not to transport the residue of the stool towards the vagina and, without pressing, wash the area between the labia majora and minora well. Finally, dry without rubbing.
If the baby has mucus or secretions, a nasal wash with saline should be performed . Lay the child on his back and turn his head to the side. Apply the serum to the upper nostril and repeat the operation on the other nostril, turning the head to the other side. Incorporate the child so that he finishes expelling the mucus. Never use cotton swabs to clean your nose.
There is a tradition of using cotton swabs to clean the external auditory canals of babies. Many ENT doctors warn of the danger of its use since inserting the swab does not clean but rather introduces even more earwax and can cause a small wound or infection.
Therefore, the ears must be kept clean and dry on the outside , not on the inside, since the wax it produces is already a natural protection.
The newborn’s nails should be cut when they are long , with a special scissors with a rounded tip or file them with a soft file. Take special care to cut the nails straight and not injure the skin of the finger.
Risks of poor hygiene in newborns
Not cleaning the newborn correctly can lead to health problems. Just as excess hygiene is bad, its absence does not benefit us either.
- Long and dirty nails can encourage scratches on the skin, eyes and mucous membranes and can be a source, not only of wounds and discomfort, but also a route of entry for germs, which can cause infections.
- Keeping the airway clean and free of mucus promotes well-being, the baby’s night rest and promotes good suction to feed correctly.
- The diaper area should be cleaned daily with soap and water to avoid irritation, superinfections of the skin or of the genitourinary system.
- Hygiene measures are essential to keep the umbilical cord clean. Umbilical cord infections, called omphalitis, are potentially very serious in the newborn and always require hospital admission and intravenous antibiotics.
What you should know…
- The baby cannot be completely immersed in the bath water until about 48 hours after the umbilical cord falls off.
- Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, the baby’s first bath can be carried out, paying special attention to the temperature of the water, the soap used and the drying of the baby.
- The hygiene of newborns must be carried out delicately and dedicating time to each part of the body: hair, ears, nose…