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: How to trust my baby's caregiver?

We're both going back to work pretty soon, and have started looking for a caregiver for baby. I'm worried that no matter who I pick, though, I'll never truly feel comfortable leaving my baby home with them! Any tips for making it a little easier?

Re: We're both going back to work pretty soon, and have started looking for a caregiver for baby. I'm worried that no matter who I pick, though, I'll never truly feel comfortable leaving my baby home with them! Any tips for making it a little easier?

The Bump Expert

First, take your time in finding a caregiver. Finding the right person to care for your most prized possession will be one of the first -- and toughest -- decisions you'll make as a working mom. There are a lot of things to consider: Do you want a more formal daycare environment, or a private nanny at home? Do you have family member who can help part- or full-time?  How much can you afford? What kind of coverage will you need? You and your partner should start to discuss these topics way in advance, even while pregnant. Having a clear picture of what is best and most convenient for your family will help target your search early, cause less craziness during the process and ultimately help you feel more secure in your decision.
 
Once you've found the right person, definitely have him or her start early. We have a nanny, and one of the smartest things we did was hire her to start two weeks before I was scheduled back at work. During that time, I showed her where things were and and demonstrated any special instructions I had, and most importantly, I could see her interact with the baby and make sure both he and I were comfortable. Hiring early also gave me the opportunity to practice leaving the house gradually -- first for an hour, then two, then four, etc. You'll have a chance to do things like get your hair cut or run errands while easing into being away from your baby for long amounts of time.

Nest Lori