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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Q&A: Changing daycares?

I just took my 11-month-old daughter to a new daycare (she'd been at the same one since four months, but I wasn't feeling good about them anymore), and it's not going well. She's crying and crying, and refusing to go down for her nap. How long should it take her to settle in? I know it's normal, but it breaks my heart.

Re: I just took my 11-month-old daughter to a new daycare (she'd been at the same one since four months, but I wasn't feeling good about them anymore), and it's not going well. She's crying and crying, and refusing to go down for her nap. How long should it take her to settle in? I know it's normal, but it breaks my heart.

The Bump Expert

Changing daycare is a big transition for children, and every child will react differently. To help her out, 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, highlight some special, comforting items at the daycare upon which she can focus her attention. I'd also bring a transitional object like a stuffed animal or blanket so she can feel some sense of home while she's at daycare.

Also, talk with her old daycare. Ask them what she seemed to like and dislike, and then offer these suggestions to her new daycare. Your old daycare might also have information regarding how she preferred 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 your daughter by explaining what she likes, what she doesn't like, the best way to soothe her, and so on. Then, ask about how they've handled transitions with other children, and for any more information about how your own daughter has responded to various soothing techniques. With time and the appropriate level of care and preparation, your daughter will get used to this new space.

Tammy Gold

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