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: Co-sleeping with baby?

What about sleep sharing? Is it safe? What are the pros and cons?

Re: What about sleep sharing? Is it safe? What are the pros and cons?

The Bump Expert

Ah, the sleep sharing question... One of those hot button baby topics you’d be wise to steer clear of in mommy and me class. Most parents who “co-sleep”  feel that staying close is important for bonding and emotional development... And most parents who don’t see it as a freaky idea which will result in baby still in the big bed at age six, as well as a major blow already at-risk reserves of marital passion.

One of the main pros of keeping baby in bed with you is that it makes those middle-of-the-night feedings much easier, since you can simply lie in bed as baby nurses. Plus, she might have an easier time going back to sleep than if you'd gotten her out of the crib for feeding. The main con is that it’s a very hard habit to break. Although co-sleeping might help you get more rest during the first couple of months when baby is feeding all the time, that third body in your bed is going to cut into shuteye over time... to say nothing of what it could do to your sex life!

As for the safety issues, the American Association of Pediatrics advises against bed sharing because studies show it increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you do sleep share, the AAP cautions against doing so when you’ve been drinking or are “excessively tired”... ruling out, oh, every single night for most new parents. The AAP does recommend, though, keeping baby in your bedroom (but in a separate crib or bassinet) for the first few months. Close proximity has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. If even a crib on the other side of the room seems too far, try a co-sleeper, which is a three-sided crib that attaches right to your bed for easy access.

The Bump Editors

re: Q: Sleep Sharing?

I am attemping to get my daughter out of our bed. I had her sleeping in her crib and then my husband and I starting having some rocky times and seperated. When we made the decision to keep working on our realtionship and we came back home he started putting her back in bed with us. Now I can't get him when he is gettting her to sleep to put her to sleep in her room and put her in the crib. Then the next problem arises when she wakes in the middle of the night and will not go back to sleep until she is in our bed. How can I help both of these issues?

GoldOne |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

I had a very similar problem. My husband (who actually has never held a baby until our son was born) was very adamant about the fact we co-sleep with our son. I didn't mind him sleeping in the room with us, but he had to have his own space. I lost that battle horrible. Between 4 to 6 months is when I started trying to move our son into his own bed. I would first put him down in his crib for a nap. If it didn't work the first time, I'd try again. The third time I'd put him into our bed. I did it until it was comfortable with it, and then tried it for the next one. Then I'd try it at night. He'd still wake up during the night, and would end up in bed with us at the beginning. Now, the only time he ends up in bed with us is if he just can't seem to fall asleep. (He's teething and he sleeps better with us during the pain.) Or if I am to tired to really care. My son took it pretty quickly though. He's a big baby and I think he realized he had more room in his own bed. As for your husband, you're just going to have to explain to him that it's time for y'all to have your own space. You may have to start putting her to bed yourself if he just won't do it. (Also, it's ok to let her cry for a little bit. I've had to do that with my son because he learned really quick that if he cried, he'd get what he wanted.)

SierraO10 |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

My newborn (A month and two weeks) REFUSES to stay asleep anywhere other than ON me. Either under my armpit, or on my chest. My fiance (her daddy) and I no longer sleep in our own bed because she needs the noise of the TV to sleep as well, which is downstairs. So we are both sleeping on our own sections of our large sectional couch. Me with the baby and him on his own side. I really need her to sleep either in her bassinet or her bouncer and she wont stay asleep in those for more than 10 minutes most times. Rarely will she stay asleep for about an hour in her bouncer but NEVER well in her bed. HELP!! I need my bed back and my fiance's warmth :(

TophersGal |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

Regarding the safety of co-sleeping, more recent studies have indicated that co-sleeping actually REDUCES the risk of SIDS. A study coming out of Notre Dame is one of the most frequently cited ones. It also makes nursing much easier. I personally don't have a problem with my son co-sleeping into toddlerhood, so "breaking the habit" is not a big deal either for some people. Co-sleeping is very normal in cultures all across the world and is not a "freaky idea." I know some people want their personal space, and that's fine too. I personally love the closeness of co-sleeping. And it doesn't have to interfere with your sex life--you just get to find more interesting places than the bed to do it while baby is napping :)

lexicgrace |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

My daughter is 8 months old and she is still sleeping with us. I love it because i love waking up to her smiling face and it makes night time feedings so much easier. I feel though it might be the cause of some of her seperation anxiety. She isnt really bad but sometimes she cries when i walk down the hallway. It really does cross my mind quite a bit to start putting her in her crib for nap time to initiate the crib but i am afraid to put her in there at night for i wont hear her. I just really enjoy her company in my bed and i know i should take her out the earlier the better, but i just love having her next to me :D

rattha |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

Hi - I work in the medical field and cannot stress how dangerous it is to co-sleep with babies. In the past few months even, I have seen numerous deaths because the parent rolled over on the child and they were suffocated. These stories are not shared in the news, but trust me, the hospitals, coroners, and medical examiners are well aware of the staggering death rates. By the way, this danger goes the same for twins co-sleeping together.

ava_francesca |

Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?

As your baby grows, he might not want to sleep all night, every night, with you, put your baby in a safe place, such as a baby swings or bouncer, while you are out of the room...

mywebcollectionideas |