Caring For Your Baby's Bodily Needs - Part Two

Jan 11


Sally Michener

Sally Michener

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This article covers topics such as: Cord Care, Care of the Circumcision Site, Nail Care, Bathing Baby, sponge bathing, additional bath tips, a rub in the tub. There will be three more parts to follow on this article so be sure to keep an eye out for them.


The high-maintenance stage of the first two years is often tedious,Caring For Your Baby's Bodily Needs - Part Two Articles sometimes fun, but it's also a chance to get to know your baby. In this article you will find practical ways to take good care of your baby -- and enjoy it.

Cord Care

The nurser or birth attendant usually removes the plastic clamp from your baby's cord by twenty-four hours of age. In the first few days your baby's cord maybe swollen and jelly-like. Over the next few days it begins to dry and shrivel up, usually falling off within two or three weeks. To prevent infection and enhance the drying of the cord, o around the base of the cord, getting into the crevice, with a cotton-tipped applicator dipped in alcohol, or whatever antiseptic solution your doctor recommends, at least three times a day or after most diaper changes. After the cord has completely fallen off, continue this cord hygiene for a few days more. It is normal to see a few drops of blood the cay the cord falls off.

If your baby's cord has a pus like discharge and/or an increasingly offensive odor, visit your doctor, who may apply a silver-nitrate solution to help dry it out. A slight odor from the drying cord is normal, but a particularly putrid odor may be a sign that an infection is brewing and it's time to step up the use of the antiseptic solution If the skin around the drying cord looks normal and is not inflamed, there is seldom any reason for concern. A sign of infection for which you should call your doctor is a red, hot, swollen, and tender area the size of a half-dollar around the base of the cord.

To avoid irritating the cord, do not cover the cord area with a diaper or plastic pants, and, if using disposable diapers, be especially careful to fold the irritating plastic away from the cord area. Whether or not it is safe to immerse baby in a bath until the cord falls off is controversial. Some physicians feel getting the cord wet increases the risk of infection; some do not. If there is pus draining at the base of the cord, it would be unwise to immerse baby in a bath for fear of contaminating the water and spreading infection. In this case sponge bathe baby until the cord falls off and the stump is well healed.

Care Of The Circumcision Site

Your doctor will instruct you on caring for the circumcision site. Apply a protective lubricant over the site every time you change baby's diaper for about a week. The circumcised site will go through the typical healing process. Initially it is swollen, then a yellow scab appears. T swelling and the scab resolve by one week. Be sure your doctor informs you how to tell if the circumcision site becomes infected. Surprisingly, circumcision sites rarely become infected, but here are signs to call your doctor: The entire penis is red, warm, and swollen, and the surgical site is draining pus. A yellow, non-draining scab is normal during healing.

Disappearing Penis
Oftentimes, during the first two years boys develop an increased accumulation of fat, called the pubic fat pad, around the base of the penis. This mound of growing fat may appear to bury the penis. A worried mother might exclaim, "His penis is gone". No, it is not gone. It resides comfortably buried beneath the mounds of fat. As your baby goes through the normal stretching and lengthening of his whole body, the mounds of baby fat melt away and the penis reappears. This curious relationship between fat and penis occurs in both circumcised and uncircumcised infants.

Nail Care

Some newborns enter the world with fingernails so long that they need to be cut right away to prevent them from scratching their faces. Expect your newborn's nails to grow very fast and don't be afraid to cut them. If you're timid about cutting your baby's fingernails, as many parents are, here's how to make it easier.

* Trim your baby's fingernails while baby is in a state of deep sleep, recognized by the limp-limb sign: Baby's limbs dangle limply at his side, and the hands are wide open.

* Use a miniature nail clipper designed especially for babies. They are much easier and safer than scissors or adult-sized clippers. and baby's paper-thin nails are so easy to cut anyway. If not using a nail clipper, use safety scissors with blunt ends in case baby startles during the cutting.

* To avoid sniping the fingertip skin as you clip the nail, depress the finger pad away from the nail as you cut. As a beginning nail cutter, have your spouse hold baby's hand while you manipulate the finger and the nail clipper. After a while you will be able to trim baby's nails by yourself.

* Drawing a drop of blood is part of learning nail trimming. Apply a bit of pressure and a dab of antibiotic ointment to the little nip.

* If You're squeamish about cutting tiny nails, cover them with cotton mittens to prevent scratches.

A baby's toenails do not grow as fast, and quite often the nails are surrounded with heaped-up skin, making trimming difficult. Don't worry that the toenails may grow into this skin. Ingrown toenails are rarely a problem in newborns.

Sponge Bathing

Let's go step-by-step through baby's early bath.

Select a bathing area. Try the kitchen or bathroom counter next to the sink. The room should be warm and draft free. Take the phone off the hook so that you will not be tempted to leave baby unattended even for a moment.

Have your bath kit ready in the bathing area before you start. You will need:

* two washcloths
* a mild soap and baby shampoo
* cotton balls
* a hooded towel
* rubbing alcohol
* cotton-tip applicators
* diapers
* clean clothes

While some babies like to be bare, most don't, so remove all clothing except the diaper and swaddle baby in a towel. You can hold baby on your lap while sitting in a chair with your bath kit on an adjacent table, or stand up at the counter with baby lying on pad of thick towel, or lay baby on a sponge pad in an empty baby bathtub.

Have your swaddled baby's head and face exposed. Begin washing his face with warm water, especially behind the ears, in the ear crevices, and in the neck creases. Unless baby's skin is sweaty, oily, or dirty, plain water is enough; otherwise use a mild soap, but not on the face.

Hold baby in the clutch hold. Squeeze a bit of warm water on top of baby's head, apply a dab of baby shampoo, and gently massage the entire scalp. Use no special caution over the soft spot. It's really tough underneath. (If baby's scalp is flaky or crusty, she may have cradle cap. Instructions on how to treat cradle cap will follow in another article.) Rinse over the sink with running water. Blot dry with a towel hood. Meanwhile, baby is still swaddled in a towel, with only his head and face exposed, not getting cold. As you proceed with the rest of the body, cover the head with a towel hood.

Unswaddle baby, remove his diaper, and wash the rest of his body. Extend the arms and legs to wash the groin, knee, and elbow creases, where there are likely to be oily collections. Clean around the base of the cord with a cotton-tipped applicator dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Turn baby over on his tummy and clean the crevice just above his buttocks and around the diaper area. Or you can lift both feet up and clean the lower back and buttocks while baby is lying on his back. To keep baby from getting cold and upset, cover the rest of the body while cleaning the diaper area.

Clean the genitalia. Hold baby's legs outward like a frog's. For girls, spread the labia and, using a moistened cotton ball, gently wipe between the labia. When cleaning around the vagina always wipe from front to back. You may notice that secretions and diaper creams collect and cake between the vulva and the outer labia. This area required the most cleansing. A normal egg-white vaginal discharge is common between the inner labia and vagina. It is not necessary to clean away normal discharge. For boys, clean the creases beneath the scrotum and the skin of the groin and buttock and around the base of the penis. Clean the circumcision of necessary after it heals. Do not retract the foreskin if the penis is uncircumcised.

Quickly diaper baby and dress him in clean clothes before he has a chance to get cold and more upset.
Additional Bath Tips

* As you move from one area of the body to another, change the parts of the washcloth in order to keep clean cloth on cleaner parts of the body.

* Pat the skin with a washcloth and blot dry with a towel rather than vigorously scrubbing, which may irritate bay's sensitive skin.

* Spot cleaning works best for babies who do not like either a total sponge bath or an immersion bath. Clean the areas that get the most oily, sweaty, or dirty.

* Clean the eyes on an as-needed basis rather than during the regular bath. Babies often protest eye cleaning, which may set off a protest for the entire bath. Using cotton balls and warm tap water (always squeeze a few drops of the water from the cotton ball on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot), wash accumulated discharge out of the corners of baby's eyes.

* Cotton-tipped applicators are handy when cleaning little crevices in and behind the outer ear, but never try to clean inside the ear canal, for you may damage the canal or eardrum.

A Rub in the Tub
After the sponge-bath stage, the real fun begins. First, choose the right tube that's safe and easy to use. There are many types of baby tubs on the market, or you can simply use the kitchen sink, which makes great pictures for your baby book. The kitchen sink is easy to use because it is the right height. If using the kitchen sink, observe the following safety tips: Purchase an insert-type plastic or rubber tub that fits into your sink, or line the bottom of the sink with a folded towel or sponge mat to keep baby from slipping. There are even inflatable baby bathtubs. If you have a movable faucet, be sure to turn it away from baby.

Before the splash begins, make sure the water is comfortably warm but not too hot. Tie a towel around your own neck like a bib to keep yourself dry during the bath and in case baby needs to be picked up quickly and cuddled. Most newborns do not eagerly await their bath. Singing a few songs, making eye-to-eye contact, and gently massaging baby during the bath often relaxes the reluctant bather.
Kid Gloves
Here's a washing tip to make bathing baby safer and easier: Wear a pair of old white gloves and rub a little mild baby soap on the white gloves. You have an instant washcloth that automatically shapes itself to baby's both and reduces the slipperiness of bare hands on soapy skin.

There will be more articles on infants, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow. So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

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