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.

baby registry

need to buy a gift?

Find baby registries (at top retailers!) and websites with one easy search.

what's hot around the web

you asked...

Q&A: How can I learn to let go now that I have a nanny?

I'm just starting back at work, and am leaving my baby at home with a nanny. It's so hard for me to watch the nanny with my daughter, because I feel like she's not doing things exactly how I do. I keep wanting to correct her, and I don't want to micromanage her... but I can't help it! And then I start to worry about what's going on while I'm away. (The nanny is great with my daughter and has wonderful references, so the problem isn't that I needs someone else.) How can I let go a little?

Re: I'm just starting back at work, and am leaving my baby at home with a nanny. It's so hard for me to watch the nanny with my daughter, because I feel like she's not doing things exactly how I do. I keep wanting to correct her, and I don't want to micromanage her... but I can't help it! And then I start to worry about what's going on while I'm away. (The nanny is great with my daughter and has wonderful references, so the problem isn't that I needs someone else.) How can I let go a little?

The Bump Expert

When I work with a working mom we put together a childcare booklet as well as an extremely detailed schedule of how the nanny will care for the child. When working with various caregivers, the goal is to create consistency of care, both physically and emotionally, so the child has an easy transition regardless of who they are with. I find it helpful for mothers to make daily schedules, detailing the entire day, so that the nanny will know what to do with the child and have less room for error. Most nannies find this very helpful. I also believe weekly and monthly schedules are helpful, especially if there are activities involved.

On the emotional end, it is also important to tell your nanny what your child does and does not like. For example, 'she likes to be held this way,' or 'when she hurts herself she likes to be sung a song.' Any piece of information, large or small, will help your nanny mimic your parenting style. I also have my clients use a daily log where the nanny can detail the day's events. This lets you see everything that happened (feedings, diapers, crying episodes, medications) while you were at work, and can help you feel more aware and connected.

After implementing these schedules and logs, speak openly with your nanny and explain your feelings. Tell her that you don't want to micromanage, but rather to arm her with as much information as possible so that she'll have a smooth transition into her job. After this conversation, take a step back and let your nanny get used to her new job and new environment. Remember to also trust yourself -- you hired this nanny, and she came well-recommended. Even if your nanny were superwoman, it would still take some time to get used to the concept of someone else caring for your child!

Tammy Gold