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: Differences between a nanny and daycare?

I'm trying to make childcare plans for my baby once my maternity leave is over. How do I decide whether daycare or a nanny is right for me?

Re: I'm trying to make childcare plans for my baby once my maternity leave is over. How do I decide whether daycare or a nanny is right for me?

The Bump Expert

Both strategies have their pros and cons. Daycare is less expensive than hiring a full-time nanny, and baby will be surrounded by other children in a stimulating environment. However, no daycare center will be able to provide the level of personal attention that a nanny can.  Also, if you and your spouse leave for work early or stay late often,  it might be difficult to find a center to accommodate your hours. A nanny is more likely to be flexible -- provided you pay her for the extra time. Finding the “perfect” nanny is tricky, though. (Um, there isn’t one... but you can come pretty close.) The only way to decide what’s right for you is to visit a number of daycare centers and interview a number of nannies. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options that work with your schedule and budget, go with your gut for the final decision.

Paula Kashtan

re: Q: Nanny vs. Daycare

I work at a daycare and personally I would say it depends on you and your personality. Are you the type of person that things have to be done at certain times like you have a real strict schedule or are you going to be a little lax (for lack of a better word) on some stuff? I work in the toddler room and some parents come in with all these demands and I have to tell them "I can't do that I have 9 other children besides yours and I can't always give special attention to one" Also I work at an extremely expensive daycare (in my opinion) and I think if you're going to pay that much you probably have a day nanny maybe not a live in one but a day one and they will be able to give your baby one on one care. Either way you're going to be paying a lot because at daycares like with nannies you have to buy/provide diapers, wipes, extra clothes, medicine, etc etc. Plus also think about it; with a nanny if it works out your baby will have the same caregiver until they go to school whereas with daycare by their first year, they'll start transitioning to new teachers every six months or so.

LadyNieto |

re: Q: Nanny vs. Daycare

One other important issue: daycares are inspected and licenced by the state; there is no certification or licensure for nannies in this country. Also with a daycare you have other sets of eyes (i.e. those of the other parents); with a nanny, it's just whatever you see going on unless you use a nannycam!There certainly are advantages to having a nanny--more flexibility with hours, you get to choose your schedule, your toys, your crib, your rules...

iluvmadbiker |

Q&A: Differences between a nanny and daycare?

The thing with a nanny is yes there more expensive BUT you pay for convenience, one on one time, less stress and you get lots of perks for having one. For 1 they come to you, so your not getting up at the crack of dawn to get your 3 kids fed, dressed, lunches packed and out the door, drop them off and then you trying to making it to work on time. Instead they walk in and you walk out! SO EASY! 2 with a nanny your children get so much more personal attention vs with a day care the ratios are 12 three year olds to one person!! Thats crazy! Just think how much more love and learning you children will get when your nanny is focused on them and ONLY them all day! 3, Nannys are also your own little personal assistance, they do laundry, dishes, keep the house picked up, and go grocery shopping. They really do make your life easier, so when you come home from a long day, all you have to focus on is your children, not cleaning or other house hold obligations! 4 your nanny can bring your kids places, Parks, museum's, zoo, out to lunch, on walks, get them out of the house and into some sun shine and fresh air! A nanny is not a baby sitter, or a day care, a nanny is for people who can afford the perks and extra benefits. Your pay for what you get 100%!!

jmrandle003 |

Q&A: Differences between a nanny and daycare?

We have a nanny and I love it! I agree alot with jmrandle003. Except our nanny does NOT do any household chores. The only things she does is cleans up dishes from what she or our baby ate that day. I must have the short end of the stick.... She does spend 1 on 1 time with our baby and our baby has a rather extensive feeding schedule that she is good at sticking too. other than that, she takes our little one with her to get HER errands done, not mine!

chloe122084 |

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Q&A: Co-sleeping with baby?