Your baby spent nine months suspended in amniotic fluid so when the journey continues outside of the womb, his body is still learning to adapt.
It is natural for some parents to be even unnerved by their precious arrival’s initial appearance, but relax! Of foremost importance is growing in confidence to handle your baby as a new parent, and to do that, you have to be as hands-on as you can.
- Neonatal Milia
Those tiny, white spots on your baby’s face are often mistaken as baby acne but unlike baby acne, which may form when baby is around three weeks old, milia tends to break out earlier—within the first week—and may linger for up until baby is three months old. Milia presents as small white bumps which cause neither inflammation nor discomfort to your baby, and no treatment is necessary as the condition will clear on its own.
- Cradle cap
Also known as neonatal seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap may appear on your baby’s scalp and/or face, but is not caused by infection, allergies or poor hygiene. A newborn’s sebaceous glands, if overactive at birth, will produce an excess amount of sebum. When this oily substance accumulates, it dries and hardens into the distinct and scaly, crusty skin patches that are recognised as cradle cap.
The roof of your baby’s skull remained unclosed while in utero, and over this area of unfused bone is a membrane layer tough enough to accommodate the passage of your baby’s head down through the birth canal. This spot will occasionally pulsate: a good sign that blood is flowing into your baby’s brain. Brushing over the spot with a soft baby brush is perfectly fine!
- Umbilical cord stump
The umbilical cord stump usually falls off within the first two weeks of birth. Clean the area gently and avoid getting it wet. The longer a stump stays dry, the sooner it will drop off naturally. If the umbilical area becomes red, oozes pus or starts bleeding excessively, consult a pediatrician immediately.
- Sponge Bath
Babies are born with sweat glands. The good news: Apocrine glands, usually linked with body odour, do not develop until puberty. What your baby has are eccrine glands that release fluid to cool the body down when overheating is detected. when the body overheats to cool it down. This fluid consists of water and salt so bathing your baby every day is not necessary—instead, give your baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off.
- Cutting baby’s nails
Trimming those tiny fingernails can be daunting. To avoid nicking the skin, push the finger pad away from the nail and use a pair of baby scissors or clippers to clip the nail. Do this while your baby sleeps or is less inclined to be active. Avoid peeling off any edges of the nail as you may up unwitting pulling off strips of skin in the process.
Step by Step Diapering
A newborn baby will soil or wet upwards of at least eight diapers a day, so you will literally have your hands full at the start!
- Set a changing station
A flat surface, clean diapers, wet wipes, wash cloths and diaper rash cream are some of the essential items to have on hand. You won’t want open a soiled diaper only to realise the wipes are in the living room!
- Always hold your baby with one hand
Never let go of those wiggling legs. They will always mange to find their way into a dirty diaper and can make strapping on a fresh one difficult.
- From front to back
Wipe your baby’s bottom from front to back to prevent urinary tract infection (especially for girls). Infection can cause discomfort to your baby and is usually accompanied with fever.
- Baby boy care
If you have a baby boy, keep a clean washcloth over his penis to avoid a “water fountain parade”. Avoid pulling the back for his foreskin as it’s attached to the head of his penis and may cause tearing.
- Baby girl care
Poo and urine may get into the skin folds of your baby girl’s vaginal area, so keeping her privates clean and dry is important to prevent infection. With clean fingers, gently separate your baby’s labia lips and gently wipe with a moist cotton wool or fragrance-free baby wipes from front to back. Do this before bath time to ensure the labia is kept clean at all times.
- Diaper Rash
Your baby’s skin is sensitive and prolonged time spent in contact with a soiled and damp diaper may lead to rashes. Apply nappy rash cream to treat the area. Some mothers use nappy rash cream after every diaper change as a barrier to prevent rash from re-occurring.
- Fastening the diaper
Whether you are using a cloth or disposable diaper, always make sure the diaper is well-secured to prevent leakage. Place two fingers between the diaper and your baby’s waist to make sure it is not too tight. For newborns, fold the top of the diaper down to expose the umbilical stump. Also make sure that the leg gussets of the diaper are not too tight
Bathing Your Newborn
The umbilical cord stump has fallen off and it is time for your baby’s first bath! Remember to be well prepared and try and minimise bath time to 10 minutes.
- Prepare a warm bath. Water that is too cold or hot may upset your baby
- Place an anti-slip mat in the bathing tub.
- Keep the room temperature warm to prevent catching a chill
- Place a box of cotton balls beside the water tub
- Use a plastic pitcher or wash cloth to pour water over your baby
- Use mild, tear-free soap to minimise irritation to baby’s skin. Add this into the water when your baby is ready to enter the tub
- Place a clean, dry towel within arm’s reach
- Get a bottle of baby lotion ready because baby’s skin can get very dry
- Prepare a clean diaper along with any other diapering supplies
- Clothes should be laid out
- Dip a cotton ball into warm, soap-free water and squeeze dry. Wipe one eye to remove any dirt or discharge. Discard the cotton ball. Use a fresh cotton ball for the other eye to prevent infection.
- Add a few drops of baby soap into the water.
- Place your baby’s head on your palm, head facing you. The rest of his body should be cradled against your body.
- Using your free hand, dip the wash cloth into water and gently wash your baby’s head, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Remove your baby’s clothes and slowly lower him into the water. Always keep one hand on baby, and remember that infants are especially slippery when wet. Use the wash cloth to clean the rest of his body.
When bath time is over, dry your baby quickly with a towel and clothe him to prevent chills. Some parents use a towel with a hood while dressing baby to keep baby’s head warm as babies lose heat the fastest from the tops of their heads