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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What Do Growth Chart Percentiles Mean?

Should I stress out if baby is in a high or low percentile on the growth chart? What do those numbers really mean?


Should I stress out if baby is in a high or low percentile on the growth chart? What do those numbers really mean?

The Bump Expert

No, don’t stress. Percentiles are the major tool a pediatrician uses to make sure baby is growing at a healthy rate. Your child’s height, weight and head circumference are plotted on a growth chart at each checkup. That chart is based on averages for baby’s gender and age, but it doesn’t mean that anything is necessarily wrong if baby falls into the high or low range.

“What really matters is that his percentiles stay in the same range from visit to visit,” says pediatrician Preeti Parikh, MD. For example, if he starts out at the 50th percentile for height, weight and head circumference -- which is considered average -- and then moves to the 90th for head circumference while everything else stays the same, this could mean there’s a problem. If baby was born preterm, the doctor will use gestational age to plot his numbers.

These are the averages (known as the 50th percentile) for baby’s first year, according to the World Health Organization:


1 month: 21.5 inches long, 9.9 pounds, 14.6-inch head circumference
2 months: 22.9 inches long, 12.3 pounds, 15.4-inch head circumference
4 months: 25.2 inches long, 15.4 pounds, 16.3-inch head circumference
6 months: 26.6 inches long, 17.6 pounds, 17-inch head circumference
9 months: 28.3 inches long, 19.8 pounds, 17.7-inch head circumference
12 months: 29.8 inches long, 21.2 pounds, 18.1-inch head circumference


1 month: 21.1 inches long, 9.4 pounds, 14.4-inch head circumference
2 months: 22.4 inches long, 11.3 pounds, 15-inch head circumference
4 months: 24.4 inches long, 14 pounds, 15.9-inch head circumference
6 months: 25.8 inches long, 16.1 pounds, 16.5-inch head circumference
9 months: 27.6 inches long, 18.1 pounds, 17.3-inch head circumference
12 months: 29.1 inches long, 19.8 pounds, 17.7-inch head circumference

Plus, more from The Bump:

What Clothing Size Do I Buy for a Newborn?

What Happens During Baby’s First Checkup?

Is Baby Eating Enough?

Anisa Arsenault

re: Q: Growth chart percentiles?

I have twin girls. One was born at 6lbs 8oz and the other 3lbs 15oz. They are both very healthy, but at 9 mos, the larger is 21lbs and 50% on the chart, while the smaller is not on the chart yet at just 13lbs. Should I worry, will the smaller ever catch up. The funny thing, they are identical. :)


Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

I don't think you should worry from what I learned the charts just show you how big your child is she doubled her birth rate so it should be fine. I'm not a doctor but I have lots of friends with twins and a few were the same...

ladychee |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

KitKat - How did your little girl turn out? My little boy (not a twin) was born full term but at 4 pounds 4 ounces. At 9 months he was 13 pounds 13 ounces, so very similar to your little girl! It's nice to know I'm not alone! He's now 11 months old and just about 15 pounds. We've seen an endocrinologist and she indicated that maintaining a growth curve (which he is) is a good indicator that he is doing okay, even if he's below the 1st percentile. Anyway, did your little girl catch up eventually, or is she still small?

Pookie0717 |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

my baby was born 6lbs 15oz but she been on the small side....right now she"ll be 1 and she weighs 15lbs 11oz she goes to a speaclist and he has done a EGD on her and kept her in the hospital for 3 days feeding her every 2 hours and giveing her medicaine to make her hungry they even had me wake her up in the night to eat and she normally doesnt. but my husband is a pretty small guy and so is everyone in his family hes 23 and weighs 120ibs and has been that weight since high school so we think she has his genes on being small but the dr hasnt threated to call child services on me becase shes not gaing as much as he would like her too im just scared they r gonna take her away what should i do?

nanas7575 |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

Nanas7575, maybe your baby just has a small tummy and therefore a small appetite. Its probably also genetics. Im a small adult and its definitely genetics. I think if your baby is happy and developing in all other areas, like walking and communicating, then she is fine. If she's cranky a lot then its a sign of something wrong. you should get concerned once she loses weight. She's got her whole life to grow up, trust me.

sugamary |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

nana, while my girl was 7lbs14oz, she was only 20 lbs at 1yr and at 22 months she is still just 20 lbs, my dr is concerned but my hubby was small when we were in high school, he has finally filled out not that he is in his 50's. my first child was 10 lbs at birth, his cousin was born a month b4 him at 4 lbs, his cousin is now almost 6 ft and my boy only grew to 5 ft 8.

lizadawn1 |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

my last daughter was only 7lbs 14oz and was full term, at 1 yr she was quite small and the dr was concerned, at 18 month just 20lbs and still small but he is no longer concerned, my last son was 7lb 13oz and dr says he will also be small but he looks so stalky.. my first son 30 yrs ago was born at 10lbs and is now only 5'8 but quite stalky, my first daughter 28 yrs ago was born 8lbs 14oz and is 5'5 and is very healthy now, this first daughter of mine has a daughter as well that is 4 months older than my younger daughter and i call her the amazon, she is 10lbs more than my 27 month old 2nd daughter, sorry for the confusion, i have 4 children and they have almost 30 yr age difference...

lizadawn1 |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

my son was born at 7lbs 14.4 oz, he is l11 months and weighs 26lbs and 31" long. He is a very big boy. He wears 2T clothes and size 5 diapers. I constatnly hear about how big he is lol. He has always been in the 97% percentile for hieght and weight but his head has always stayed in the 57% percentile. He is the size of almost all 2 years old i know. But its ok the docs are ok with his height and weight but they even comment on he is a big boy lol. Whats funny he never has eaten more than 5oz of formula and only eats 2 deals of baby food twice a day.

lyhmsmom |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

My daughter was 8 pounds, 1 oz at birth, and was only 19 pounds at 1 year. My son was 8 pounds 11 oz at birth, and was 25 pounds and 30 inches long by the time he was 6 months old. Every baby is different, and as long as they're developing normally otherwise, there is nothing to worry about.

sara7venus |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

My son was born 9 lbs and 3 oz. He was in the 95% at 1 week old and never looked back. He is completely off the charts. He is 8 months old now. 25lbs 12 1/2 oz abd 28 in long. He wears 18 months clothing. I think it is the BFing.

hsego83 |

Q&A: Growth chart percentiles?

I have battled with my ped also about weight. My little one has always been in the 10-15% for all measurements. He far outsurpasses many kids older than him in development, ability, etc. My ped actually told me to "force feed" my baby to fatten him up because he had lost a pound in a matter of 3 months. I was so fretting over what they were going to do if he didn't gain weight, etc that I lost track of knowing my child and listened only to the doc. My child is VERY active..has been since day 1. My husband and I finally had to have a meeting with the ped to tell him that our child is growing, active, happy, etc and that charts aren't the only indicator. (I was also told ped won't contact the authorities until your child is labeled "failure to thrive" on paper-If that helps??). Bottom line, listen to your instincts and don't let charts that were developed years ago and mostly based upon formula fed vs BF dictate what to do with your child. Take it in to consideration but know your child!

socartbear |