Bringing home a new baby is an overwhelming task, regardless of whether the child is coming home with first-time parents or seasoned professionals with more than one child. Once the little bundle of joy is firmly ensconced in his or her crib, parents must still deal with the prospect of keeping the child cleaned and groomed appropriately.
A newborn baby's skin is very delicate, and all babies have a number of special needs that must be attended to carefully. A main sticking point for many parents is how to deal with the umbilical cord until it falls away. The most commonly accepted form of care involves treating the cord's base with rubbing alcohol to help dry it out, and keeping it dry at all times. This means no full-immersion baths until the umbilical cord is completely gone.
Since full baths are off limits for several days, many parents wonder how to keep their babies clean. This is where sponge baths come into play. Purchase an infant tub or take the old-fashioned route and simply place the child onto a soft towel. Use warm water and infant-friendly soap to wipe the baby from head to toe before wiping again with clear water.
Everyday hygiene is also important between sponge baths in the child's initial days. Always remember to wipe a baby's mouth, chin, and cheeks after every feeding, and gently wipe around his or her eyes if they become crusted. Be sure to pay attention to the newborn's neck after feeding, as well. Most infants have skin rolls beneath their chins and on their necks, arms, and legs that can trap milk, dirt, and moisture that will cause irritation and infection if left uncleaned.
Another routine care practice that is essential is trimming an infant's fingernails. Infants tend to scratch themselves quite frequently if their fingernails are allowed to grow too long. Use a pair of infant nail clippers and carefully trim the nails back until they are flush with the baby's fingers. Soft infant nail files are also available to help smooth out rough edges that could cause painful scratches.
Beyond cleanliness, babies also need care when it comes to bodily fluids. Of course, all parents know to keep their babies' bottoms dry and clean; however, many do not realize the same can be true for their noses. A stuffy nose is highly irritating for a new baby, who has no way to clear it on his or her own. This is where a bulb syringe enters the field of play. Use a bulb syringe to carefully remove secretions from the baby's nose, and be sure to clean inside and outside the syringe with a disinfecting solution after use.
As far as baby's skin is concerned, many health professionals say lotion is unnecessary, though an equal number also say it is acceptable to use. If a baby's skin seems dry, opt for an unscented lotion once or twice a day to help keep the skin hydrated.
Though they are scary for parents, newborns are relatively simple to take care of where hygiene is concerned. There are no expensive gadgets, creams, lotions, or soaps necessary - just tender, loving care and attention from a parent.