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: Is DEET okay for baby?

I'm confused about the safety of DEET. I know that I'm supposed to be getting a bug spray repellant that contains DEET for my 5 month old, but I thought that was the chemical that in the past we've been trying to avoid. Are there any known risks to using DEET on infants? -- mrshutch

Re: I'm confused about the safety of DEET. I know that I'm supposed to be getting a bug spray repellant that contains DEET for my 5 month old, but I thought that was the chemical that in the past we've been trying to avoid. Are there any known risks to using DEET on infants? -- mrshutch

The Bump Expert

DEET has been used safely for many, many years and it works well to prevent insect-borne diseases.  In fact this long safety track record is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends DEET for infants over 2 months of age.  Of course it would be nice to avoid all chemicals but you have to remember that insects also carry some very serious diseases. (Encephalitis, Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Malaria -- just to name a few!)

That said, the AAP offers some simple guidelines to minimize exposure:

> DEET should not be used in a product that combines the repellent with a sunscreen. Sunscreens often are applied repeatedly because they can be washed off. DEET is not water-soluble and will last up to 8 hours. Repeated application may increase the potential toxic effects of DEET.

> Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing.

> Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth.

> Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors; wash treated clothing.

> Avoid spraying in enclosed areas; do not use DEET near food.

There are some newer insecticides on the market but as of now they do not have to safety and efficacy track record of DEET.  For this reason I do believe DEET is actually the safest way to go and enjoy the outdoors.

Dr. Vicki Papadeas

re: Q: Is DEET OK For Baby?

this is hilarious. you say it's safe and then in the same breath you give all of these guidelines for minimizing the potential toxic effects.whatever. i don't put DEET on ME and i am sure not going to put it on an infant!

readytobedone |

re: Q: Is DEET OK For Baby?

As a pharmaceutical chemist, I agree with what Dr. Papadeas is saying: the risks of using DEET have been clinically proven to be low (not non-existant) for infants, and the risks of the serious diseases from a bite are worth doing something about. That being said, I decided I did not want to use DEET for my baby and I looked high and low for an alternative to DEET that was safe for infants and proven effective. There wasn't one. There were a few things that seemed to work in early studies but in later studies were shown to be no better than nothing. There were some products that haven't really been thoroughly tested to see if the initial claims bear out. After much research I ended up buying one of these: "Bite Blocker Xtreme" an all-natural DEET free waterproof insect repellant made of soybean and geranium oils. You have to reapply often (every 3.5 hours) and keep out of eyes and mouth. So far, so good....

wakeham |

Q&A: Is DEET okay for baby?

Some of the people here offered very good answers about DEET.. If you would like more information about it, you could call people providing pest control service and I'm sure that this way you will as much information as possible. Good luck!

PowerFlowerPower |