The thought of taking care of a newborn baby can be scary and daunting — especially if you have never taken care of a baby before. And while it’s true that newborn babies are fragile and delicate, there are ways you can provide baby care easily and properly.
Taking care of babies is not exactly something that comes naturally to everyone, so don’t be ashamed to ask for guidance and advice. If you don’t know where to begin, here are 5 things to remember for proper baby care!
1. First things first: Keep yourself and your home clean.
As established earlier, newborn babies are fragile and delicate. Their skin is still very sensitive, and they can be vulnerable to germs and harmful bacteria. To minimize your baby’s exposure to germs, it is crucial to keep yourself and your home clean. Always, always wash your hands with an antibacterial soap before touching your baby. It also helps to keep a hand sanitizer handy.
It is also important to keep your home as clean as possible. Use a baby-friendly disinfectant solution to disinfect and sanitize your baby’s surroundings. You may also opt to use breathable fabrics that are naturally hypoallergenic and non-toxic such as cotton.
2. Always support your newborn baby’s head and neck.
During the first few months, your newborn baby is not yet physically able to hold their head up due to weak muscles and immature muscle control — and the fact that their head is the heaviest part of their body at birth. This is why, when taking care of babies, you should always remember to support their head and neck.
To do this, put your hand behind your baby’s neck and cradle their head. Whether you are carrying them up or laying them down on a flat surface, always keep their head and neck fully supported. You can rest easy when your baby begins to be able to hold up their head, which usually comes around the fourth month.
3. Baby hygiene: bathing your baby
When you are a new parent, there are only a few things more intimidating than the experience — or thought — of bathing your baby for the first time. Yes, it can be tricky, but giving your baby a bath is something you can master after the first 2-3 tries. The key is to cradle your baby properly (refer to number 2) firmly with a steady hand and to have your bathtime essentials within your (other arm’s) reach.
Then again, you don’t need to give your newborn baby a full bath right away. Wait until their umbilical cord stump has fallen off and the navel region has healed completely, which can take 2-3 weeks. Until then, give your newborn baby a sponge bath.
3a. Giving your newborn baby a sponge bath
To give your newborn baby a sponge bath, first, put a bowl of warm water on a flat, clutter-free surface in a room without a draft. Make sure that the water’s temperature is just right by testing it with your elbow: it should feel warm and not hot. Then, undress your baby and wrap them in a soft cotton hooded towel.
Damp a clean cotton washcloth and wipe your baby’s eyes from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use another part of the washcloth to wipe the other eye. Then, clean your baby’s nose, ears, and then the face. When wiping the face, you may add a little bit of baby-friendly soap.
Next, lather up a few drops of baby shampoo to wash your baby’s head. Using the washcloth, wash the rest of your baby’s body. Pay attention to their underarms, neck, and genitals. Finally, pat your baby and dress your baby.
3b. Getting ready for the baby bath tub
No one can predict what will happen during the first time your baby gets into the bathtub (and gets a full baby bath experience)! To make the transition easier on both of you, make sure that your baby’s baths are short and sweet. It is not necessary to bathe your baby everyday. During your baby’s first year, it is okay to bathe your baby only 2-3 times a week.
Avoid bathing your baby too often as it may dry out their skin. Again, don’t forget to properly cradle your baby and have your baby’s bathtime essentials within your reach. These essentials include a clean washcloth, a gentle and unscented baby shampoo and soap, and a baby hooded towel made of cotton.
Use your sink or a baby bath tub and fill it with 2-3 inches of warm water. It is still advisable to test the water using your elbow. Undress your baby and place their body inside the tub with one arm supporting their neck and head and your other arm washing your baby.
Undress your baby and then place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room, to prevent chills. Make sure the water in the tub is no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and that the water is no longer running in the tub. Use one of your hands to support the head and the other hand to guide the baby in feet-first. Speaking gently, slowly lower your baby up to the chest into the tub.
4. Baby care: umbilical cord
It is essential to properly care for your baby’s umbilical cord stump as it may get infected. You may want to wipe the navel area with rubbing alcohol until the stump dries up and falls off. This process differs with every baby, but it usually takes 2-3 weeks.
Until your baby’s umbilical cord completely heals, avoid getting their navel area submerged in water. The cord stump will change color — from yellow to brown to black — and this should not be a cause for alarm. However, if you notice a discharge or a foul odor coming from the area, then you should call your doctor right away.
4. Baby care: cradle cap
Cradle cap is the white or yellow crusts or flakes that usually form on a newborn baby’s skin. Cradle cap is completely normal, and while they may be unsightly to some, you don’t necessarily have to treat it. Often, you only need to wait it out because cradle cap usually disappears on its own within 6-12 months.
However, if you want to keep your baby’s scalp area free from these flakes, don’t forcefully pick at them. Instead, before bath time, put a few drops of baby oil on your baby’s scalp and wait for about 15 minutes. Then, using a soft baby brush, scrub your baby’s scalp. Afterwards, during bath time, finish washing your baby’s hair.
5. Changing your newborn baby’s diapers
Finally, when it comes to proper baby care and baby hygiene, you should not neglect how to change your baby’s diapers correctly. But before you learn how to change a diaper, you need to remember to remove your baby’s wet diapers immediately to prevent diaper rash from forming. You can easily identify a wet diaper from a dry one by touching it.
Similar to bathing, when changing your baby’s diapers, get your supplies ready and within your reach. Use damp cotton balls, washcloth, or baby wipes to clean your baby’s genitals or bottom, wiping from front to back. If you are using a disposable diaper, throw it in your diaper pail or trash can. If you are using a cloth diaper, put it inside a pail or bucket.
Then, once your baby is completely clean, put a clean diaper under them and fasten it around their waist. Using an ointment is not necessary unless your baby has a diaper rash. Don’t forget to wash your hands after the diaper change!
Taking care of babies may be daunting, but with proper guidance and correct tips, it can be done and you may become a master of baby care in no time!