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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When to start giving baby a sippy cup?

When should I introduce a sippy cup to my baby?


When should I introduce a sippy cup to my baby?

The Bump Expert

Start giving baby a sippy cup early -- at about six months -- with some breast milk, formula or water in it. Even though baby may not get the hang of it right away, it’s still a good idea to introduce it so early. That way, baby has a chance to get used to it for a while before you make the switch away from bottles completely.

You’ll want to aim to stop using bottles by the time baby’s 12 to 18 months old. That’s the age range when children are developmentally ready to be off bottles -- their grasp and coordination should be good enough to hold a cup and bring it to their mouth -- and most pediatricians say to wean off the bottle by age two at the very latest. Besides getting disapproving looks from other moms, there are several reasons why you don’t want your child on the bottle after that. For one, toddlers tend to drink more milk from bottles than they do from sippy cups, and that can put your child at risk for health problems such as iron deficiency anemia, since drinking too much milk can inhibit iron absorption. Also, parents tend to get into a routine in which they give their children bottles of milk at bedtime, and it’s bad for baby’s teeth to be bathing in milk all night; the sugars in it can lead to tooth decay. In addition, if kids walk around with bottles (or pacifiers) in their mouth all the time, that can also change the alignment of their teeth so that they push forward more (but that doesn’t happen to all children).

There are also practical reasons to wean away from bottles. It’s easier for travel, since you find straw cups in restaurants while you’re out and about anyhow, and your child will already be used to them. A lot of speech therapists recommend straw cups too, since they may be better for the mouth muscles.

Make sure you choose a sippy cup with packaging that says it’s BPA-free -- luckily, most on the market now are. Some children do better with a hard spout, others do better with a soft spout, and some find the hourglass-shaped ones easier to grasp, so you might need to do some trial and error to see what works best for your child. Make it more fun by buying one with pictures of their favorite character, or personalize it with photos of your family (there are special cups for that!).

Don’t worry if baby doesn’t take to the sippy right away -- keep trying, and she’ll figure it out. If she’s really having trouble, try taking the spill-proof valve out of her cup until she gets used to it. Sure, you might end up cleaning up a lot of spilled milk, but the easy flow will give her incentive to drink from it. Once she gets the hang of it, you can put the valve back in.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Feeding Gear That Will Change Your Life

Tips to Transition Baby to a Cup

Advice for Eating Out With Baby

Alanna Levine, MD, pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatric Associates in Tappan, New York

When to start giving baby a sippy cup?

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