Baby Top to Toe Care
A newborn baby has the most vulnerable skin and delicate hair imaginable. Hence, when it comes to taking care of a baby, particularly at bathtimes, it has to be done gently and mindfully as newborn skin and scalp are still in a fragile, developing stage and hence, prone to irritation, dryness, chafing and rashes.
Newborn bath needs
Resist the urge to bathe your baby frequently. It removes the natural oils that protect baby’s skin and leaves it more vulnerable, so it reacts to any potential allergen – triggering a reaction like eczema.
Except for needing their diaper changed and their drool gently wiped away, newborns don’t get all that dirty! So, you will be doing your baby’s skin a big favour if, for the first month or so, you just give your little one a sponge bath two or three times a week. In between, simply clean baby’s face and diaper area with a little water and a washcloth.
Bathing a newborn
Baby should not be given a bath until the umbilical cord has fallen off. Here’s how to bathe a baby:
- Lay out a diaper and clothes to be used after the bath.
- Fill the tub with two to three inches of warm water and test the temperature with your elbow.
- Put the washcloth and baby toiletries close by so you will not have to budge from your baby’s side while he or she is in the tub.
- Using a wet washcloth, gently clean your baby’s face.
- Use a wet cotton ball or washcloth to clean your baby’s eyes. Wipe from the inside of each eye to the outside. Make sure you get any dried secretions out of the nose as well.
- Very lightly soap up the washcloth with a gentle baby wash product and clean your baby’s body from top to bottom and front to back. Make sure you clean inside all of the little folds.
- Wash the diaper area last.
- Rinse your baby thoroughly with cupfuls of water.
- Next, wipe excess water off with a clean washcloth before carefully lifting the little one out of the tub with one hand supporting the neck and head and the other hand supporting the bottom.
- Pat baby dry.
- Apply a mild baby lotion to keep baby’s skin moisturised and dress your little one.
Remember, your baby is wet and squirming, so if it’s possible, have another adult help by receiving your baby in a dry towel.
Moisturize & massage!
More often than not, an infant’s skin is dry and can even have patches of eczema in some areas. Moisturizing your baby’s skin with a moisturizer made for baby is important.
After bath time, gently dry baby off with a soft towel. Apply a gentle baby moisturizer all over baby’s body. Why not give your little one some soothing baby massages? You can even do this with baby oil. Baby massages is a great way for you to bond with baby while keeping his skin soft and healthy.
Washing baby’s hair
There are four simple steps to cleaning an infant’s hair. Once you get the hang of it though, you will find your own way around it. In the meantime, here’s a simple guideline:
- Fill a cup with water to wet baby’s hair.
- Apply a small amount of baby shampoo on your baby’s head and rub in a gentle circular motion. Keep your baby’s head tilted back so the shampoo doesn’t run into those tiny eyes.
- Fill the cup again with clean water to rinse your baby’s hair and body.
- When lifting your baby out of the bath, support her bottom with one hand and the head and neck with the other. Make sure you have a firm hold so your baby doesn’t slide away.
Baby hair-care tips
- You do not have to wash a newborn’s hair daily, for it hardly gets dirty! Aim for a quick shampoo when you bathe your baby, which also doesn’t need to be more often than a couple of times a week.
- Be gentle when you massage baby shampoo, even a ‘no-tears’ one, into your baby’s scalp. A too-brisk scalp massage can stress hair follicles and cause breakage.
- Comb your baby’s hair with a soft-bristle brush or a wide-toothed comb that won’t snag on tangles or pull out delicate hair.
- Avoid pulling your baby’s hair back too tightly when grooming. A baby’s hair is not meant to be tied up either, so do resist doing so at this point, and wait till baby is at least a few months old.
If your baby seems to have developed some flaky, red patches of skin on the scalp, it’s probably cradle cap. It’s not a big concern and is easy to treat. Here’s how:
- Before a bath, massage a little bit of olive oil, or baby oil into your baby’s scalp to loosen the dry skin.
- Gently rub the oil into your baby’s scalp with a soft brush or washcloth to release the flakes.
- Do this before washing baby’s hair.
Cutting baby’s nails
Baby’s fingernails grow very quickly and they can be sharp enough to cause scratches on that little face and body. File or cut the nails about twice a week. You may use a baby nail scissors or a baby nail clipper. Here are some tips to make cutting nails easier:
- Cut nails after a bath, when they’re softer.
- Sometimes it helps to trim a baby’s nails when the baby is asleep and relaxed.
- If you use scissors or a nail clipper, press the skin under the nail down so you can get to the nail more easily. It may help to have your partner hold the baby’s hand steady the first few times so you can concentrate on cutting.
- Trim fingernails following the natural curve of the nail.
- Cut toenails straight across.
A baby’s clothing should always be washed separate from other household laundry. Some laundry can harbor germs even after a thorough washing. A newborn baby’s immature immune system needs to be protected from bacteria, fungus and viruses.
Use a laundry wash which is made specially for baby’s clothing and ensure that it contains none of the following:
- Optical Brighteners
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylates
Also, read the labels carefully and pay special attention to warnings. Avoid products which are poisonous, dangerous or fatal if swallowed or inhaled.