For parents, the number one concern that they have for their children is keeping them healthy. This means that proper feeding, good sleep, and correct hygiene practices need to be followed every day for your child. Bathing, finger and toenail care, and personal hygiene demands can be overwhelming for new parents.
Dr. Hassan Alzein of Alzein Pediatrics in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and Evergreen Park knows that parents have these concerns. This guide will help to keep your baby healthy and happy and assure parents that they are thinking of all the things that their child needs as they grow and thrive after coming home from the hospital.
Bathe Your Child-But Be Careful Not to Bathe Too Often
You will want to bathe your child frequently, but daily baths might be too much. “Newborns can be bathed in warm water without soap,” says Dr. Alzein. You will also be able to avoid shampooing their hair during the first few weeks. Dr. Alzein states that bathing once every three days or after a very messy diaper is all that newborns usually need in the way of baths.
Washing your baby from head to toe with warm water using a sponge is all that is needed for the first two weeks until the umbilical cord falls off. You will want to wash the diaper area last to avoid cross-contamination of the cord during this phase. Mild soap can be used on very dirty areas like the diaper area, but you will not need soap for the rest of the body.
When you are giving a bath, look for signs that there is abnormal skin or irritated skin on your baby’s body. These areas might look like bruises, or they could be rashy or red. You can also look for skin tags and other abnormalities. If you see any skin that looks unusual, you will want to schedule a visit with your pediatrician.
Many babies will get baby acne during the first four weeks of their life. If your child has baby acne, you will only need to wash with water and a soft cloth. If baby acne lasts for longer than a week or two, your child should see their doctor.
Dr. Alzein states that safety and health for babies includes really good hygiene. Touch is also included in these care processes, which is important for babies and toddlers alike. Dr. Alzein reminds parents never to leave their children alone in the water to prevent accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that their findings indicate that child drownings happen most often in the bathtub at home and that many of those deaths are children who are under the age of a year old.
If you are bathing your toddler or baby in the bathtub, always check the temperature before placing your child in the water, and never leave them alone when they are playing in the tub.
Personal Hygiene for Babies
Genital care is essential for children of all ages, and during the diaper and newborn phases, it is key to prevent infections and other complications for your child’s health. If your child is male and you have chosen to circumcise them, you will need to apply petroleum jelly to the penis to make sure that it does not stick to the diaper while it is healing. This area should heal within ten days of the procedure. If it has not healed in that time, you will need to see your pediatrician.
For uncircumcised male children, you will need to clean under the foreskin of the penis when you are changing your child. You can gently pull the foreskin back and wash the area with mild soap and warm water. Make sure that you allow the foreskin to return to its original position on its own. Forcing it back can harm it.
For those with daughters, washing the labia major and the clitoris is important. These can be enlarged when the child is a newborn, and this is perfectly normal. This swelling is caused by hormone exposure while the child has been in utero. Swelling in this area should reduce as the hormones work their way out of your baby’s system.
Vaginas are able to clean themselves quite readily, so you should not be alarmed by discharge that is clear or pink during the first few weeks after birth. You can simply wash the exterior surfaces of the vagina. There is no need to clean the inside of the vagina in newborns.
Nail Trimming for Safety and for Health
Baby nails are paper-thin but still very sharp. This means that you need to cut your baby’s nails so they don’t scratch themselves and cause wounds to their own face or body. Babies often hate having their nails trimmed, which means that this delicate process can be tough on parents and babies alike.
When trimming baby nails, you will need safety nail clippers and infant-sized safety scissors with blunt blades. You will need to finish each trim with an emery board to smooth out the edges of the nails. Dr. Alzein states that you should, “never bite or peel the nail off” as this will increase the chances of infection and injury.
Oral Hygiene for Infants
As soon as our child cuts their first tooth, which will happen between four and nine months, you will need to start oral care to prevent cavities. Dr. Alzein recommends a fluoride varnish treatment for all children when their first teeth come in. The doctor can do this for you, and it is a simple process whereby a fluoride paste is applied to the teeth and allowed to remain for at least an hour. The child can eat or drink as soon as the varnish dries.
Child Wellness Appointments
Children need to come to all of their recommended well-child appointments to be sure that they are routinely checked. This will ensure that they will meet their milestones as well as their growth markers, and it can help to prevent issues with hygiene, tooth care, and more. You can also ask any questions that you might have about your child’s hygiene needs at the time that you come in for visits.
The other part of child wellness exams are vaccines, which need to be given on a schedule for the early years of your child’s life. Dr. Alzein states that the best schedule for your child’s wellness exams follows the AAP schedule:
- Within the first week of your baby’s life
- At 1 month
- At 2 months
- At 4 months
- At 6 months
- At 9 months
- At 12 months of age
It is also key that you work with a pediatrician that you feel compatible and comfortable with. You will want to feel sure that you can reach out even for small concerns and that you never feel judged or scolded by the pediatrician that you are seeing. You will need open and honest lines of communication between you and your child’s care provider to foster a situation that will ensure your child’s good health.
If you do not feel that you cannot speak with your child’s doctor about any topic at all, it might be time to find a new doctor that is more compatible with you and your child. Dr. Alzein reminds parents that compatibility with their pediatrician is important for their child’s health and well-being.