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: Infant cold medications in the news?

Infant cough and cold meds are all over the news right now, and the stories are scary -- what exactly is going on?

Re: Infant cough and cold meds are all over the news right now, and the stories are scary -- what exactly is going on?

The Bump Expert

The uproar is scary to us, too! This basic breakdown explains the major issues.

And -- don't forget to check out our non-medicinal cough and cold remedies.

The Concern

According to an FDA public health advisory released last Friday, cough and cold medications -- even those marketed specifically towards infants and toddlers -- have no proven effectiveness in young children, and can actually cause severe harm.

The FDA started the review last March, after a group of doctors and public health officials filed a petition questioning the safety of such medications.

The Statistics

Between 1969 and 2006, 54 deaths related to decongestant usage and 69 related to antihistamines have been reported in children, mostly those under age two.

According to a CDC report, 1,500 toddlers and babies have been in emergency rooms over the last two years because of such medications.

In 1990, Americans spent almost 2 billion on infant and children cough medications.

Almost 30 different cough and cold medications marketed specifically for children can be found in the average drugstore.

How Could This Happen?

Decongestants and antihistamines have actually never been tested in children. However, the FDA has allowed them to be marketed to young children for years, based on the -- now known to be faulty -- assumption that children's bodies are simply small versions of adults'.

The Dangerous Ingredients

In decongestants: Pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine and ephedrine.

In antihistamines: Diphenhydramine, brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine.

The FDA's Stance

Medication bottles currently advise parents to consult a physician about decongestant usage in children under two and antihistamine usage in children under six.

The FDA wants to replace this label with a recommendation against any use of the medications in those age groups, due to a "lack of evidence of efficacy and safety concerns."

Also, the FDA also wants all products marketed specifically towards young children be removed from the market.

The Drug-Maker's Stance

The Consumer's Healthcare Products Association -- an industry trade group which in the past has defended the safety of children's cough and cold medications -- also released a statement last Friday agreeing with the FDA. The group now recommends mandatory warning labels advising such medications should never be given to children under age two.

What's Next?

Always discuss any medication use with your pediatrician. Make sure to go over appropriate amount and frequency of dosage, the specific medication being administered, and the interaction between medications being given simultaneously.

Paula Kashtan