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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What Are Some Tips for Starting a New Day Care?

Baby's going to a new day care, and the transition's not going well. What should I do?


Baby's going to a new day care, and the transition's not going well. What should I do?

The Bump Expert

Changing day care is a big transition for children, and every child will react differently. To help baby, try to verbalize what she is feeling. Tell her she's in a new place, and it will take some time to get used to it. Also, talk about some special, comforting items at the day care she might like. It can also help to bring a transitional object like a stuffed animal or blanket, so she can feel some sense of home while she's at day care.

Also, talk with the staff at her old day care. Ask them what she seemed to like and dislike there, and then offer these suggestions to the new caregivers, such as where and how she liked to nap, and how long it took for her to get comfortable.

Finally, sit down and make a formalized plan with her new caregivers. Help them understand baby by explaining what she likes, what she doesn't like, the best way to soothe her, and so on. Then, ask how they've handled transitions with other children, and for any more information about how she's responded to various soothing techniques so far. With time and the appropriate level of care and preparation, baby will get used to this new space.

Tammy Gold