Normal Skin Care
Newborns seem so delicate. First-time parents always have lots of questions about bathing, especially concerning the umbilical cord and genitals. Here are some tips:
- First: Bathe your baby daily during hot weather and once or twice each week during cool weather. Use warm tap water. You don't need any soap, everything dissolves in water. Soap just dries out the skin. Don't forget to wash the face; otherwise, chemicals from milk or various foods can build up and cause an irritated rash. Also, rinse off the eyelids with water.
- Second: Don't forget to wash the genital area. Never use soap on the vulva area in girls. Soap and bubble baths before puberty may cause urinary tract infections and vaginal irritation. In boys, carefully clean the scrotum and in girls, the creases of the labia. Poop tends to collect in both these areas and can cause skin ulcers. In girls, always wipe from front to back to prevent contaminating the vulva.
- Third: Try to keep the umbilical cord dry. Keep the water level below the navel or give sponge baths until a few days after the cord has fallen off. Submerging the cord could cause infection or interfere with its drying out and falling off. Getting it a little wet doesn't matter.
- Fourth: Wash your baby's hair once or twice weekly with a special baby shampoo that doesn't sting the eyes. Don't be concerned about hurting the soft spot.
- Fifth: Trim the nails weekly after a bath when the nails are softened. Use clippers or special baby scissors. This job usually takes two people unless you do it while your baby is asleep.
- Finally: Ointments, creams and powders are greatly overused. Newborn skin normally does not require any ointments or creams. Especially avoid the application of any oils or ointments since they will almost always block the small sweat glands and lead to a heat rash or even pimples. If the skin starts to become dry and cracked, use a moisturizing cream twice daily.
If you have any other questions about skin care, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.