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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How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

Is it important to clean baby's new teeth? How do I do it safely?


Is it important to clean baby's new teeth? How do I do it safely?

The Bump Expert

You may be wondering why it’s important to clean baby’s teeth when she’s just going to lose them in a few years anyway. Well, look at her baby teeth as benchwarmers -- these first chompers hold the place for baby’s adult teeth. If they’re unhealthy or deformed in infancy, chances are her adult teeth will have some trouble growing in properly. And tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in US children.

So, now that you know why baby’s teeth must be cleaned, how do you go about cleaning only a tooth or two? Gentle is the key word in dental care as baby’s teeth are still soft and sensitive. You can put a damp, clean gauze pad on your finger and gently wipe baby’s teeth, or use a washcloth. They even make disposable finger brushes specifically for babies (ask your pharmacist or dentist for recommendations). A baby brush with no more than three rows of soft bristles is also okay and should be available at major drugstores. If you do go this route, change the brush every two to four months because even though you can’t see it, bacteria are there.

Babies also don’t need as much toothpaste as you do. In fact, too much fluoride is toxic to their system. Remember, babies don’t spit; they swallow, so fluoride in water combined with fluoride in toothpaste can be dangerous. The American Academy of Pediatrics recenetly backed earlier recommendations from the American Dental Association, deciding that cleaning baby's new teeth with a shmear of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) is safe. By age three, you can upgrade to a pea-sized amount.

While brushing twice a day is sufficient, it doesn’t hurt to wash baby’s teeth after meals and before bed. Make sure to also wipe the front of his tongue because it’s a haven for germs. Just don’t go too far back because he’ll gag.

When should baby go to the dentist? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends “first visit by first birthday,” but in the meantime, you should keep baby’s diet healthy. For example, watch her sugar intake (including natural and artificial) and make sure she gets calcium, phosphorous, fluoride (yes, small amounts are okay), and vitamin C (good for the gums). And never let baby sleep with a bottle -- the sugars from breast milk and formula will rot her teeth. Serve juice watered down and in a cup so it spends less time on her teeth. And, if baby is on solids, add some cheese at the end of a meal: It encourages saliva production, which can wash away cavity-causing acids and sugars from the mouth.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Dealing With Teething

How to Teach Toddler to Brush Teeth

Top 10 Teething Toys

Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)

re: Q: Cleaning baby’s new teeth?

I was just wondering how and when to brush today! My son has one tooth just now starting to show.

J+O |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

We brush in the morning and at night.....I let him play with his toothbrush befor its time to start.that way he knows what time its about to be,and he wont fight it.kinda like useing a sip cut for the first....just let them play with it like its a toy it will come natrual(sp?)goodluck

MoMmYtOaLiLjUgGaLo |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I also let my son play with the tooth brush while his dad and I are brushing our teeth. He has two teeth right now and to start I will brush them and then let him take over.

lincoln_little_bear |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

we brush our teeth and wash our faces in the morning. i brush her teeth, gums, and inside her cheeks oh and her tongue. she fights at first but now she'll get up with me and stand next to me waiting for me to sit her on the sink. than, she opens her mouth and likes to suck on the tooth brush.


Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

the best way to brush a babys teeth is to lay your baby on a bed, couch or any hard surface or if you have help on your partners lap. By doing this you have the ability to see! then use a brush that is the proper size for your child (oral b stages are good!) There is no need to use toothpaste until about 2 to 3 years of age. Fluoride toothpaste is not recommended until your child can spit!

pretygirl59 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

you dont i think

laninabonita08 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My LO enjoys a good munch on a washcloth. He started to get teeth at 4 mos old so i would take a damp cloth and wipe the inside of his mouth and gums. This usually ended with JC biting the wash cloth. But hey, it works! Next step: finger brushes!

jcmom32010 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My son has eight teeth and he is almost 15 months. We brush his teeth every morning and night. We started him early thinking if he was use to it then he would not fight it later. So far we have had no problems with our son.


Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

a piece of damp gauze across the gums or tooth is what my pediatric dentist recommends until they are 2.

hillterr |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My son started getting teeth at 4 mos, one on top, one on the bottom, one right after the other. A couple months later, same thing, pop, pop! Then again, a couple months later, again! Finally around 9 months, he got 4 more in, one right after another. So, he will have 8 teeth, all by the 10th month. Poor kid has been a champ, too, barely any issues at all. Initially, I had crocheted a bumpy textured washcloth just for him to chew on. And BOY DID HE CHEW! Then, I bought him a little Elmo toothbrush after the second set came in. I sit him on the sink, show him how its done, then I hand him the toothbrush and he tries to imitate me. Then after a few minutes, I ask him to let me help and he sticks his little teeth out. Then I brush them all. I also get pretty silly and tell him what a big boy he is. He seems to dig it.

skulfan |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

You can use a wet cloth and wipe your baby's gum and teeth after feedings or once in the morning and the evening. They also make a tooth and gum cleanser and it even comes w/ a small finger "toothbrush" that you can use to clean you baby's teeth and gums. It's made by Gerber "Grins and Giggles". It does "NOT" contain flouride either.

lbradber |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

You should clean a babies mouth/gums from the day they are born and using a gum brush or washcloth (CLEAN washcloth LOL) is ok until they start biting your finger...I let my 1 1/2 year old attempt to brush her teeth and then I finish it up for her by laying her down so I can see.

usachick19 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

Maybe you should do a little more research about floride, for a fact I know no amount of floride is good for anyone!

tayglitter |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

There are wipes for baby gums and baby oragel before and after baby gets his/her first tooth. I was told to wipe down baby gums with wipes,designed for gums, as my baby got old to go baby oragel and brush there tooth/teeth. baby oragel has no fluoride.

mgs3245 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

We bought one of those finger brushes, not really a toothbrush to clean his gums and for the first few months when he gets his teeth in. That would be good right?

MandyJo009 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I'm wondering why only a brush with a couple few rows are okay? whats wrong with extra bristles?

JnellNiz |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My son got his first teeth at 9 months, heis now 13 months and has 8 teeth. He has always fought me when I try to brush his teeth, whether I use the finger brush or little toddler toothbrush. I have found that heis most compliant when I wipe his teeth, gums, and tongue with a warm damp wash cloth.

Autumn Leaf |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

Once I saw her little teeth come in at 8months I started brushing, she's 3 years old and LOVES to brush every Morning! Start early and they will LOVE it!

natg |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I use Spiffies baby tooth wipes per my dentist. I got them on Amazon.

laurie99qtpie |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I asked my dentist when my son should go to the dentist for the first time. They said age 3.

Jamie513 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

ive been told it is also important to clean the gums before teeth come in. to do this, use a warm washcloth and just rub them :)

katevolz |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My dentist suggested laying DS down on the bed to brush his teeth and that has really helped!

Mere&Marty |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I use a warm washclothes and rub the gums and tongue before I give bath...

coko98 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I used to and sometimes still do tell made up stories about an adventure going on in their mouths while brushing their teeth. It really helped in making the whole process easier.

nikkibs |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

toothbrush and paste

littlebogger11 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I didn't realize the effects of breastmilk on baby teeth, so when I brought my son into the dentist for the first time when he was 3, a few months after I stopped breastfeeding, I was devastated to find out that 2 of his back teeth needed crowns and there were also a couple of other smaller cavities in other teeth! Read this article and follow its advice and don't be dumb like me!

nikkibs |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

As soon as my son had his first tooth, I use Spiffy teeth wipes our pediatric dentist recommended. I tried using the finger brush, but I have a that didn't work out. Now that his can hold a toothbrush, I have his older sister brush her teeth with him so he can see how she is doing it. After he is done, I go through it again.


Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

Babies need their mouths cleaned after every feeding with a cool wash cloth or gauze until teeth appear. Once teeth are present, it is important that they get thoroughly cleaned. That is easiest done by laying your baby down and using an infant sized toothbrush. Toothpaste is not necessary, but if you only use a smear(very small amount) of toothpaste, it won't matter if the baby swallows it. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Pediatrics recommends all children be seen by the age of 1. Many family dentists recommend a later age simply because they cannot manage the smaller children. Prevention is the key to starting at 1--small areas of weakness are much more easily addressed as soon as they are apparent and all of the questions and concerns you might have can be reviewed by a pediatric dentist. the specialist in your child's dental health.

toothcare4kids |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My daughter is 14 months old, and I have been using the gum cleaner since she was newborn, and just recently swtiched over to a tot toothbrush (daddy bought it home ), I showed her like one time how to brush her teeth and now everytime I go to the bathroom (swich she follows me of course into) she points and signs toothbrush and wants to brush her teeth! love it, of course at night and in morning I brush them for her.

amyreeder22 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

i brushed with baby toothbrush & paste

JessBmommy |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I bought a very tiny and soft brush and just used some warm water and some baking soda then wiped with a cloth - worked pretty good

sexysadie01 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

+1 for baking soda. its natural and gentle yet strong enough to make a difference

magmiller |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

i have consult with my doctor has Denture Clinic in Newmarket he is saying You don't need to use any toothpaste yet. Simply wrap the cloth or gauze around your index finger and rub it gently over his gums

hameedullah36 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

If you don't know how and this is your first baby, experts recommend seeing a specialist. You can check out several sites, like and choose some dentist that has a more softer approach. Follow your gut feeling

JanisJNoukster |

How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

Start cleaning your baby's teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth appears.

Rosemarype |

How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

An early dental hygiene is the best solution for strong and healthy teeth. There are many causes why your teeth damage, but you should always brush your teeth, no matter what. Also, don't forget to go regularly to a good dentistry clinic to check your teeth. If you don't know one, do a quick research to be sure that you have found the best one from your area. For example, people who live in Nashua and want dental care in Nashua will find the best services at the Landmark Dental Care Clinic.

marta8080 |

How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

There are many safe ways in which you can do this without doing damage to child's gums or teeth. There are special toothpastes on the market that children can use and also teeth brushes that are made from a special material that is gentle with the new teeth of your kid. You can also check out and see what are the new appearances in matter of dentistry.

siedna |

How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

I brush his teeth with water

shaquana780 |