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 Decrease Baby's SIDS Risk?

SIDS is so scary! What can I do to help prevent it?


SIDS is so scary! What can I do to help prevent it?

The Bump Expert

Every parent knows about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It's rare, but probably a parent's worst nightmare. By definition, SIDS has no known cause -- and a very small percent of babies do die during sleep in their first year for no apparent reason. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that nearly 2,500 babies die from SIDS each year in the US. The best way to decrease your baby's risk is to always keep him in a safe environment, including when he's sleeping... which he does a lot!

Lay baby on his back to sleep
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends putting babies to sleep on their backs. Studies show that more babies die when put to sleep on their stomach. We don't totally understand why this is, but it's simply a fact that babies are safer on their backs. Tummy time is fine when babies are awake (and important for exercise and development), but not for unsupervised sleep.

Get a good crib and firm mattress
Make sure your crib complies with current safety standards and has a firm mattress and well-fitting sheet.

Avoid fluffy bedding – including bumpers
You may think bumper pads are cute, but the AAP recommends against using them at all. While bumpers seem like a way to keep baby safe, studies found that they can suffocate, entrap and even strangle babies during sleep. There's also no evidence that says bumpers prevent injuries. Basically, stay away from anything that your baby could get trapped under when he wiggles around.

Take everything out of the crib
Don't worry about using special pillows and equipment to make your baby comfy -- he's just fine flat on his back. Never cover your baby's head with a blanket, avoid loose-fitting PJ's, and keep cuddly toys, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals out of the crib. If you want to use a light blanket to swaddle, that’s fine, but nothing else should be in the crib.

Same room, different bed
While you may want to cuddle with baby at night, this isn’t the best idea. Bed-sharing can expose your baby to additional risks, such as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, falls and strangulation, since the situation does not meet sleep safety standards. One study found that 13 percent of the surveyed SIDs victims died while bed-sharing. Another found that though breastfeeding helps reduce baby's SIDS risk, co-sleeping does not. The AAP does recommend room-sharing, where baby sleeps in the same room but on a separate surface. There is evidence that this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent, since a parent can keep a closer eye on baby.

Turn down the temp
Don't let baby get overheated -- he's just fine covered with a light blanket or a sleep sack. Studies show that heated bedrooms increase SIDS risk by about 4.5 percent, compared to non-heated rooms. Keep the room between 65 and 70 degrees to keep baby comfortable and safe.

Don’t smoke
Be sure to place the crib somewhere smoke-free. In fact, keeping baby away from smoke in general is a good idea – especially when they're still in the womb. Researchers have found that smoking during pregnancy nearly doubles the chance of SIDS for babies.

Seats are for sitting
SIDS used to be called "crib death," so some parents mistakenly believe that putting their baby to sleep on a bed, couch or bassinet will prevent it. This is a myth -- an approved crib is the safest place for a baby.

Even if baby falls asleep in the car seat or stroller, it’s best to transfer them to a crib (yes, even if you’re risking waking them up) if they’ll be asleep for a while. Because babies have poor head control, sleeping while sitting up might increase the risk of upper airway obstruction and oxygen desaturation.

Reducing your baby's risk of SIDS doesn’t have to cost money -- it's just about attention to details. Remember -- even though SIDS is rare, when it's your baby, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent this from happening.

Dr. Vicki Papadeas

re: Q: Decrease SIDS Risk?

Some people will say that side sleeping is alright, but don't do it. Studies have also shown that side sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS (not as bad as tummy sleeping, but still worse than back sleeping). Remember, Back to sleep, no bumpers or extra blankets, pillows or toys, and you can decrease the risk of SIDS enormously.

lipp82 |

Q&A: How to decrease SIDS risk?

SIDS is every parent's nightmare. Here are some tips that American SIDS Institute recommends for reducing the risk of SIDS: 1. Place infants to sleep on their backs, even though they may sleep more soundly on their stomachs. 2. Place infants to sleep in a baby bed with a firm mattress. There should be nothing in the bed but the baby - no covers, no pillows, no bumper pads, no [URL=]positioning devices[/URL] and no toys. 3. Keep your baby’s crib in the parents’ room until the infant is at least 6 months of age. 4. Do not place your baby to sleep in an adult bed. 5. Avoid overheating your baby during sleep. 6. Avoid exposing the infant to tobacco smoke. 7. Breast-feed babies whenever possible. read more on:

susymose |

Q&A: How to decrease SIDS risk?

I have also read that putting your baby to sleep with a pacifier reduces the risks of sids. Go paci's!!

kiraismissblondie |

Q&A: How to decrease SIDS risk?

My sweetie is 3 months old and has now discovered that she can roll over. What can I do to keep her off of her belly when she sleeps?

Cheshielutz |

Q&A: How to decrease SIDS risk?

I have a 12 year old and a 11 month old. With my first I was often worried about SIDS and would quite frequently be up checking if he was still breathing. With my daughter we heard about a product called the Snuza on the show "The Doctors". It is a small breathing monitor that clips right on the front of the diaper and will set off an alarm if it does not detect movement for 15 seconds. This wonderful device has allowed me to have such better worry free sleep then I ever had with my son. I think every expecting mother should be told about this product. It is amazing!

kolinskydc |

Q&A: How to decrease SIDS risk?

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tareelolo |