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 Will Baby Understand "No"?

Baby keeps doing things and getting into stuff he shouldn’t, and saying no isn’t working yet. When should I expect it to?


Baby keeps doing things and getting into stuff he shouldn’t, and saying no isn’t working yet. When should I expect it to?

The Bump Expert

The very earliest baby can recognize or understand the meaning of "no" is at nine months. And even after that, it can take a lot of reminding. Here’s how to handle baby when he’s doing something he shouldn’t.

Distract. Baby pulling your hair or messing with the dog’s tail? Put him down, or take him to another room away from the dog. Show him a toy he’s allowed to play with, and he’ll probably forget all about the trouble he was causing.

Talk positively. Say baby’s hitting. Instead of just saying, “no hitting,” follow it up with what he should be doing: In a calm voice, say “gentle” while showing him how to touch, gently using your own hand.

Prevent. For infants and toddlers, negative behaviors can stem from frustration, being over-tired or a change in schedule. If something’s off today, know it’s prime time for trouble. Try to prevent it by putting baby down for a nap or keeping the dog behind the baby gate (and maybe put your hair in a ponytail).

Be consistent. Don’t laugh at the behavior even though it may be cute initially, because it sends mixed signals. Baby might want to do it more if it elicits a laugh. Some parents wonder if they should bite baby back or pull his hair to teach him that it hurts, but seriously don’t -- it would just send the wrong message!

Plus, more from The Bump:

10 Weird Toddler Behaviors (and Why They’re Normal)

Annoying Toddler Habits and How to Deal

What Baby’s Playing With That Isn’t Safe

Preeti Parikh, MD, pediatrician at Pediatrics of New York, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Director of Programming at

Q&A: When will baby understand no?

I have been telling my son no for about 2 months already. He is now 7 months and he understands what it means,

Starlasky87 |

Q&A: When will baby understand no?

Here's my curiousity, my husband (though our son is they first baby he's every held/taken care of/etc.) is always on my case about teaching our son no because "he doesn't understand." I've been taking care of babies and children since I was 13, but how do I convince my husband that he does understand (to a degree)? I can't set any rules or limits with our son because my husband is always telling me I'm wrong when I'm trying to teach our son.

SierraO10 |

Q&A: When will baby understand no?

See BM understands "no" pretty well. however, my husband claps his hands really loudly and says no. i understand that this is how he would like to do things, but really a simple "no" would suffice. I feel like the hubb is treating BM like a dog...

katrinax08 |

Q&A: When will baby understand no?

My son is 16 months old today and I think he's understood "no" for a long time. I, too, am having challenges with him pulling my hair or scratching my face (which is usually accompanied by a certain squeal, so I don't think it's meant to hurt). We've been using "soft" when he was only a few months and he seems to get it - like when he pinches my fact too hard I say, "no, soft" while stroking his face. But when he comes up behind me and grabs my hair (with a death grip) I can say NO all I want but he doesn't necessarily let go. My husband thinks that since they rough-house together that it's my son trying to exude dominance (as he doesn't have control over my husband), but I don't know. If he scratches me, I tell him "no/don't scratch mommy/oww/etc." and he's usually smiling and stops when he sees my facial expression or when I set him down and repeat "don't scratch/etc.". While it is happening less that it was, it's still painful and I want to be doing the right thing (as I've never had to do this before). Thoughts?

coxswain91 |