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 Can I Stop the Diaper Table Wars?

I can't get baby to sit still during diaper changes -- it's an all-out war every time I put him on the diaper table. Any suggestions?


I can't get baby to sit still during diaper changes -- it's an all-out war every time I put him on the diaper table. Any suggestions?

The Bump Expert

Ah, we see baby has finally developed an opinion (and it’s that lying still isn’t his thing). Lots of babies get squirmy on the changing table, and it can be stressful and messy. Different methods work for different folks, of course. Here are a few to try.

Use the art of distraction

Keep a basket of fun objects above the changing table -- toys that baby only gets to see at changing time. Basic things like wooden spoons and empty boxes work just fine. The trick is picking things that don’t seem like toys -- he'll want everyday objects more. Let baby choose a toy to play with during the big change, sing and talk about the toy while you wipe, and return it before leaving the table. “I change the toys out every couple of weeks,” says Bumpie abpdjs.

Get him involved

If toys don't work, get baby involved by doling out responsibilities. Let him choose the diaper, pull out wipes and hand you things. In addition to giving baby something to focus on, it's a big part of prepping for potty training and a lifetime of hygiene.

“Our latest thing is the bottle of lotion we keep on the table. I squeeze a drop into his hand and he likes to rub his hands together,” says SeaSoul.

You might even want him to see what it’s like to be the changer, as opposed to the changee. “Sometimes ‘changing’ his Elmo doll helps. He seems to be more willing to do things if Elmo has it done to him first,” says jennyelf.

Ham it up

Objects aren’t the only things that can be distracting -- you can be too. “Make funny faces, dance, clap, pretend to drop something and say ‘Oh no!’” recommends HeyJune.

“Sometimes if my son is thrashing around on the changing table, I’ll say in a jokingly threatening tone, ‘Don’t make me put the diaper on my head!’ That will usually catch his attention enough to stop flailing and look at me, and then of course I do put the diaper -- a clean one! -- on my head, and he finds it hilarious,” says KittyKatMom.

Make a change in scenery

Maybe the diaper table just won’t work. “I stopped using the changing table -- the floor is way easier, says jlw2505. The bed may also be a good option, because it’s bigger than the changing table, baby might not feel as confined.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Changing Table Safety

Before I Became a Mom, I Swore I’d Never

Things You Never Thought You’d Say, But Do

The Bump Editors

re: Q: Squirmy During Diaper Time?

I have found that the "distraction" method is truly helpful! I have a 14 month old son that just has to "go go go". His favorite are his cars, or just having something to drink works the best! I have also found just playing with him a little bit while changing him works great too!

SeattleMommy |

re: Q: Squirmy During Diaper Time?

As long as my son has a toy in his hands to play with he will stay relatively still for diaper changing.

Rory's Mom |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

i give my daughter a tightly closed lotion bottle or trial size baby shampoo bottle. She's not strong enough yet to get the lid off, but she's very curious and loves to see new stuff.

emilysmommy30 |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

Agreed!! My daughter likes to flip over. I generally give her an extra diaper to play with while I change her. She's started to understand where the diaper is supposed to go, though, so now she tries to put the diaper in the right area while I'm changing her! Too cute.

NewMomKrys |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

I had that problem especially when I am on the go and ha to do a diaper change. Check out Its a changing kit with a strap to add a toy to help distract your baby during change time. I love it!!

drjippyjr |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

I use a hot air balloon attached to a weight and she loves it. ***Never leave the balloon unattended with baby.*** She likes to grab string and make it move while I change her. I or my husband get a different balloon from time to time to keep her fascinated by it. It's only at diaper changing when I'm right there.

karajamstutz |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

I ditched the changing table when my daughter was about 6 weeks old.. we change her on her pad in the living room or bed.. i always found the changing table obsolete and its so much better to just not use it. lol.

solomonster |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

I have twins and I can tell you that I never had difficulties in changing my babies diaper. They always stay still and enjoy the fun we have while doing this. The room is very bright, with all kinds of toys and even with two glass vessel sinks for washing them. I don't know why, but I am sure that all these things make them attentive and don't cry.

delaco32 |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

Since my little one was born I would always say "legs down" and show her what I mean. Now that she is 4 months she lifts her legs when its time for a diaper change and puts them down after I say "legs down" once or twice. Just develop a routine or key words when you change baby. Hope it works out!

meekovex |

Q&A: Diaper table distraction?

I've always tried to make changing time fun. With older babies I drop the wet wipe over their face and it turns into peek-a-boo. They're distracted with the wipe while playing the game and they learn to enjoy changing time.

laudenslager |