Infant Hygiene

Cord Care


We have all seen the wonderful Hollywood portrayals of child birth and coming home with a bundle of joy for the first time. You bring your bundle of joy home, and…”What is that hanging off of my baby’s stomach?” More than likely, what you are looking at the umbilical cord, dyed deep purple and starting to shrivel up. Most Hollywood portrayals tend to leave this part out of their films because it just isn’t something that boosts box office ratings. So, even though Hollywood doesn’t make a big deal out of it, your baby’s cord is something you have to take care of with special care.

As you were probably told at the hospital, the umbilical cord stump was painted purple with triple dye to reduce the risk of infection. The cord should start falling off within 2 weeks. During this time, the cord will become more dried and shriveled. You will probably see some mucous discharge as the baby’s body gets rid of the cord. There are just a few things to do:

Keep the cord dry

Each time you change your baby’s diaper, swab and clean the cord with a cotton-tipped applicator and an antiseptic (rubbling alcohol can also be used). Use a cotton swab or Q-tip. Remember to lift up the stump and swab all sides of the cord. The antiseptic or alcohol will help the cord dry up and reduce the risk of infection.

Keep the cord dry

For the first couple weeks, give your baby sponge baths to get your baby clean and keep the cord dry. See Sponge Baths.

Keep the cord dry

Fold the front of the diaper down. Covering the cord with the diaper can keep it moist and increase the risk of infection. Let it air out and dry.

Talk with your physician if:

the skin around the stump appears to be red and inflammed
the skin around the stump appears red and inflammed even after the cord has fallen off
the cord stump has not fallen off one month after birth

Circumcision Care


Circumcision is the surgical removal of part of the foreskin on your newborn boy’s penis. There is no pressing medical reason for a circumcision to be done, usually only religious or social reasons. Circumcised penises are easier to keep clean and have less chance of infection. Circumcision is a safe procedure. If you choose to have your baby circumcised, bleeding and/or infection can occur from this procedure. A local anesthetic can and should be used on your baby during this procedure.

The circumcised area needs protection against direct contact with the diaper. Your physician should outline a care treatment for your baby’s circumcised site. A protective lubricant, such as Vaseline or A & D Ointment, may be applied.The circumcised area also needs to be cleansed with soap and water after every diaper change. Redness and swelling are common during the first 4-5 days, yellowish scabs should also form. Any inflammation of the shaft of the penis or pus oozing from the site should be brought to the attention of your physician.

Remember these circumcision care tips:

use Vaseline or A & D Ointment on the area
cleanse area with soap and water after every diaper change
contact your physician if any inflammation occurs to the shaft of the penis or you notice any mucous

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is a condition in which your baby’s skin and/or scalp are characterized by oily, yellowish scales or crusted patches most often appearing on the head, but can also be seen on the forehead, the eyebrows, behind the ears, or in the groin area.

Treatment for Cradle Cap:

wash the affected area daily with a mild soap and water
remove all scales gently with a fine-toothed comb
consult your physician before using a medicated shampoo or a cortisone cream
contact your physician if the condition last for longer than three weeks

Diaper Care

Diaper Tips

Within the next couple of years, you will be changing a lot of diapers. You’ll probably get so used to diaper changes that you’ll even dream about them…well, maybe not! Although diapering may seem like a stinky job, there’s more to it than you know.

While changing your little one’s diaper, watch your baby’s face. Many baby’s do the same with you, they watch your face and listen to what your saying. Avoid making strange faces, even if your smelling something unpleasant. Breast-feeding has its advantages here because breastfed babies do not have stinky diapers. At the moment when you’re changing your baby’s diaper, you’ve got their attention. The cool draft they feel is usually enough to widen their eyes and open their ears, if not their mouths. Spend time massaging, rubbing, and/or tickling your baby during their diaper change. Take their little minds off what you’re really doing, and allow them to enjoy your touch.

Helpful Tips on Diaper Changing:

Change your baby on the floor if it makes you more comfortable.
Use the spare diaper or rag for when your baby springs a leak in the middle of the diaper changing.
When your baby is a little of a month old, try changing him/her prior to feeding, so that he/she may drift into sleep just after eating.
Fix a mobile or toy above the changing table to avert your baby’s attention from the diaper changing.
Converse continuously with your baby throughout the diaper changing.
Remember to change your baby after each bowel movement.
Change your baby’s diaper as soon as you notice he/she has become wet.
There is no need to change your baby’s diaper during the night. As long as your little one is sleeping…let them.
If your baby wets quite a lot during the night, you might want to consider double diapering him/her just before bedtime.

Diaper Changing Surfaces


Any surface that comes to about your waist or a little higher will work as a changing table. Regardless of which surface you choose, you need to make sure that your baby cannot easily roll off in any direction. No baby should be left alone for any reason while he/she is on a changing table. As you will soon see, your baby can roll, twist, and stretch in many directions, which makes it possible for him/her to fall off a changing surface before you can blink your eyes. You should some sort of soft material on the top of your changing table. An important thing to remember here is that you will be changing your baby on this soft material, so it would be a good idea to invest in something that has a cover that can be removed and washed if need be. Although safety straps for changing tables might seem like a good idea, they could give you a false sense of security. Once your baby has the strap on you might not think it will hurt to just run really quick into another room to get something…DON’T…before you know it your baby could have fallen or even worse strangled himself/herself on the strap while you were gone.

Babies can easily and quickly fall off of a changing table. Always keep at least one hand on your baby at all times while he/she is on a changing table. Your baby’s changing area needs to be warm. A warm baby, is a happy baby. A padded cover or quilted blanket should be placed on the table to give your baby a soft area on which to lay. Below you’ll find a list of things that should be in hands reach or on the changing table if possible:

clean diapers (either cloth or disposable)
diaper fasteners (pins or clips)
creams for diaper rash, see Dealing with Diaper Rash
baby wipes and cotton balls
a change of clothes
a spare diaper or an old rag
dirty diaper holder

Cloth vs. Disposable

Should I use disposable or cloth diapers on my baby?

During the first couple years of your baby’s life, you’ll be changing approximately 5000 diapers! Whether you decide on disposable or cloth diapers is up to you. Some parents use a combination of the two. Remember to keep your baby’s sensitive skin in mind when making the decision about which diaper works best. There are services available that clean, sanitize, and soften 100% cotten diapers and usually deliver them to your home once a week. You can obtain subscriptions to such services. Diaper-service diapers are just as convenient as disposable diapers. Things to keep in mind while deciding on diapers for your baby, are: cost, efficiency, skin friendliness, and the environment. 5000 diapers from each and every baby adds up quickly.

Cloth diapers work great for babies with diaper rash. They allow your baby’s skin to breathe and heal quicker. Cloth diapers are available now with velcro fasteners, so your baby is no longer likely to be stuck with a safety pin.

Disposable diapers do seem to be more convenient that cloth diapers. Taking care of a new baby can place a hundred different demands on you and sometimes the last thing you need is the baby wetting all over things through his/her cloth diaper. Disposable diapers do really take the moisture away from a baby’s skin so there is the added convenience that you don’t have to change the baby right away. Of course, some people carry this to an extreme and don’t change their baby until the diaper is completely saturated. Certainly, waiting until the diaper is as heavy as a phone book is not hygienic or recommended.

Dealing with Diaper Rash


Diapers and your baby’s bottom are not always a perfect match. Diaper rash is due to urine or stool chemicals trapped inside a plastic covering rubbing against your baby’s bottom and irirritating the skin. Excessive moisture usually is the ultimate cause of diaper rash, so it is important to change your baby’s diapers frequently and to keep the skin dry to prevent diaper rash from occurring. Creams and powders are not necessary as long as you keep the diaper area dry.

Remember these diaper care tips:

change diapers immediatly after urination and stools
keep diaper area dry by changing diapers frequently
try both cloth and disposable diapers, to see which is best at preventing diaper rash for your baby, see Diaper Care.
rinse or wipe your baby’s bottom well during each diaper change
blot dry, by gently patting your baby’s bottom OR use a blow dryer at least a foot away from your baby’s bottom to dry the area
if a mild rash develops, you may use a thin layer of:
A & D Ointment
Cortaid 1%
zinc-oxide cream
disposable diapers should be applied loosely if your baby has diaper rash, this will allow your baby’s skin to breath and heal with the fresh air

If the rash persists, call your physician.