Baby Care Basics:
5 Must-Know Tips for That First Week Home

1. Baby wipes
Most docs recommend avoiding premoistened diaper wipes for the first month of baby's life since some of their chemicals can irritate a newborn's tender skin. Instead, use cotton balls dipped in warm water. When baby’s ready for regular wipes, choose ones that are alcohol-free and unscented to prevent irritation.

2. Bath time
Until baby’s umbilical cord is off and healed, baby can only take sponge baths. Start by soaking your baby a little. Make sure to always keep one hand on baby, and remember that infants are especially slippery when wet. Start with his face–one area at a time since covering the whole face with a washcloth can be scary -- and work your way down. Make sure to thoroughly wash inside all the folds (under the arms, in the neck, the genital area, etc.) and save baby’s dirtiest parts -- aka the diaper area -- for last. Then, move back up and wash baby’s hair. And note: There’s no need to bathe more than every few days.

3. Newborn skin
At birth, baby's skin will probably appear to be dry. How come? It’s in the process of peeling off an entire waterproof layer of sorts. But in general, a baby's skin doesn’t need much specialized care -- just lots of TLC. A mild cleanser is safe, though many people recommend just plain water. Your baby's face takes a lot of abuse (just think of all that spitting!), so do your best to keep it clean. But if baby's skin seems excessively dry, irritated or itchy, or if you notice a rash or breakout, consult your pediatrician ASAP.

4. The umbilical cord get sucked into registering for cute toys or outfits Umbilical cord care has changed dramatically over the last 20 years; now, many hospitals recommend doing nothing but keeping the cord dry (read: sponge baths only). But some pediatricians still recommend using alcohol on the cord with each diaper change to speed up the healing process. That way you’ll be able to give your baby real baths, as opposed to sponge baths, sooner. So find out what your doctor recommends.

5. Fingernails and toenails
The safest way to keep a newborn’s nails short is to just file them and not cut them at all. Since the skin of the fingers is usually attached to the back of the nail, cutting the nails often results in nipping the fingertip too (ouch!). Even though the bleeding is minor and can be stopped quickly with a little pressure, it's very upsetting to the parent -- and always seems like a lot more blood than it really is! Once baby is a little older (18 months), you can cut their nails while they’re asleep.

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Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

Find out if you should be worried about baby's teeth growing in crooked.


Find out if you should be worried about baby's teeth growing in crooked.

The Bump Expert

Crooked teeth are usually genetic, but not in the way you might think. Sometimes, a child inherits her father’s larger teeth and her mother’s smaller jaw -- which may cause some trouble. If that’s the case, when the teeth begin to grow in, they start fighting for position because there isn’t enough space for them in the arch of the mouth. That can lead to crowding.

Another reason for crooked teeth might be baby’s habit of sticking her fingers in her mouth. If baby’s a thumb-sucker, she’ll put her thumb tightly between the upper and lower teeth when her mouth is closed. That places pressure on the upper front teeth and pushes them out. At the same time, the lower teeth are pushed back into the mouth, which can cause crowding. In some other cases, extra teeth develop, and crowding occurs because there isn’t enough room.

If you’re seeing spaces between baby’s teeth, know that that’s a good thing. If the teeth are all crowded, then it’s very likely that when baby gets permanent teeth, they’ll be crowded too, and she’ll benefit from getting braces. You don’t have to wait for the adult teeth to come in to do something about crowding. Even at a young age, your baby’s teeth can be analyzed for deficiencies in arch length so treatment can be started. Children as young as four years old could get a removable retainer-like appliance that helps guide the growth of the arches in the mouth so that they can better accommodate the teeth size. Early arch expansion can make orthodontic treatment of the permanent teeth easier and more stable, if it’s even needed at all.

Want to know about caring for baby’s teeth? Get baby used to dental hygiene even before she gets her first teeth. Once a day, you can gently and carefully swab the inside of her mouth with a moistened gauze square or a small washcloth wrapped around your index finger. That way, once the first tooth comes in, your baby will already be used to this routine. You can continue to clean the brand-new tooth this way until baby has a few more teeth -- that’s when you can introduce the toothbrush. The most popular brush for kids in my practice is the FireFly because it has a flashing light that tells you when 60 seconds (the recommended brushing time for kids) is up for each arch. As for using toothpaste, most people believe that baby can’t use it because she won’t be able to spit it out. You can actually use a tiny amount of mildly flavored toothpaste with fluoride -- a small amount of toothpaste won’t be a problem to ingest. More families are using a xylitol gel to swab baby’s mouth and to brush with -- you can use it instead of toothpaste. When your child gets older, make sure xylitol is one of the ingredients in her toothpaste for extra bacteria protection. Xylitol is a natural sugar that’s good for teeth because it can reduce cavity-causing bacteria by 95 percent with correct usage.

Until your child is old enough to brush by herself, be sure to do it for her twice each day. Make sure to gently brush the inside and outside of each of your baby’s teeth, and try to also brush the tongue where bacteria collect. If baby’s teeth are crowded or are contacting one another, it’s also important to floss her teeth to make sure bacteria don’t get stuck. Try floss picks -- they’re surprisingly easy to use on babies.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How Do I Clean Baby's Teeth?

Teething Chart

Dealing With Teething

expert Chris Kammer, DDS Chris Kammer, DDS, Lifetime Family Dentistry, and president of The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

My son used to stick his fingers in his mouth when he was little causing teeth problems and I had to take him to Tucson invisalign. I taught him how to brush his teeth and bought him a FireFly toothbrush, now he loves to brush his teeth and make them "white" just like his mommy.

miracraig |

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

I don't know what happened with our health care system. I believe when the system will be fair to everyone no matter if the person is poor or rich then we can talk about equity. Right? Now I have to choose a new dentist from the nyc cosmetic dentists because I can not afford to go to my dentist anymore. I was surprised to see that the services prices was drastically changed due to the changes in the health care system.

lionking44 |

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

I didn't knew that my baby's teeth can have a genetic predisposition. Just to be sure, at the first sign of troubles I go with him at a dentists Nashua NH clinic. In our family, we both have small teeth, but you didn't know what may happen.

RonAbner56 |

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

If you live in the area I advice you to visit my dentist. I used their teeth whitening lansing services while I was pregnant and I was pleased with their work. They can see your toddler and give the best solution for his/her problem. A crooked tooth is not normal.

marta8080 |

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

This a very good explanation. My daughter has two crooked teeth and I had to visit a TMJ specialist Vancouver clinic. I hope that she will be fine when she gets older, but now I have to be very careful with her development.

LenBrannon |

Why are baby’s teeth growing in crooked?

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Allenwood |