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Newborn Hygiene - A Guideline for Parents

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Bringing home a newborn is overwhelming at first where you are still in the process of understanding the different types of behaviour and responses they exhibit. They are extremely sensitive and need utmost care. Sanitation and hygiene are of prime importance and should never be neglected to avoid any kind of illness. 

There are some peculiar reactions that often show in infants such as pimples, dry skin, mild rashes, mildly bloody vaginal discharge, lumps under a baby’s nipple, rapid non-labored breathing, noisy nasal congestion, and so on. It is to be noted that these symptoms are absolutely normal in the initial stage of birth. What needs to be looked after is that the hygiene of the baby is kept at a peak so that these symptoms don’t escalate to an extreme level. 

Basics of Newborn Hygiene

The basics to take care of a newborn simply include bathing, baby’s skincare, changing diapers, etc that are needed for the comfort and health of the infant. 

  • Bathing and skincare

Giving a bath to a small sensitive baby can make any parent nervous at first and needs patience and utmost care while carrying it out safely. These are the basic guidelines that should be followed:

  1. The baby should be bathed once or twice a week only. Bathing more than that can cause drying of the skin.

  2. The baby should not be bathed in a tub of water until the umbilical cord has detached from the body. Until then, a sponge bath is appropriate. 

  3. Using a mild soap with the least chemical is recommended. 

  4. The parent of the baby carer should always be there while giving her/him a bath. 

  5. The bath items that should be used are - a soft drying cloth, mild soap, soft hairbrush, lukewarm water, and diapers. 

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Steps for bathing: 

  1. Make sure that you wash your own hands before touching the baby

  2. Wet the baby in the lukewarm water

  3. Make lather with mild soap and wash the baby’s hands, legs, back, and chest. 

  4. Use a mild shampoo to wash the baby’s hair

  5. Shortly after, sponge the baby with a soft towel to dry him/her. 

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  • Cleaning baby’s face and eyes

  1. Wash your own hands before touching the baby.

  2. Clean baby’s eyes by using a cotton wool ball soaked in lukewarm water. 

  3. Wipe from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eyes

  4. Always use a new wool ball for each wipe to maintain cleanliness. 

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  • Cleaning baby’s ears

Use a wet cotton wool ball to clean the baby’s earns in and around. Swipe the wool ball in a circular motion around the ears. Don’t insert anything inside the ears.

  • Cleaning Baby’s Head and scalp

To wash the baby’s hair, splash a fair amount of water onto his/her scalp. Use a soft towel to dry the baby’s hair in a back and forth motion gently. 

  • Cleaning baby’s teeth and gums

Use a washcloth to clean the baby’s teeth and gums gently and morning and evening feed.

When the first teeth arrive, use a soft baby’s toothbrush to clean at least twice a day. 

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  • Trimming baby’s nails

An emery board or a baby’s special nail scissors should to used to trim his/her nails. Hold the baby’s fingers with one hand while you trim with the other hand. Be very careful in this process. You can also trim while the baby is asleep or while he/she is distracted while listening to the music. Don’t forcibly cut nails when the baby starts crying or panicking. 

Image from Raising Children Network

  • Care for Umbilical Cord

Always wash your hands before cleaning the umbilical cord. Avoid drenching the baby in the water while it is still attached. To let the stump up dry, avoid covering it with plastic pants or nappies. Avoid touching the stump as much as possible.

  • Genital care and hygiene

Washing a baby’s genitals can lead to sensitivity issues hence should be handled with utmost care. 

For a baby girl: Use a slightly wet cotton ball to wipe. Hold the legs apart upwards and wipe the cotton ball between the baby’s labia. The motion of wiping should be from the back towards the front of the area. 

For a baby boy: While bathing, gently wash the genital area with plain water and clean the outside of the foreskin. 

Let your baby enjoy nappe-free time as dry air helps to prevent nappie rashes. 

Image from BabyCentre

  • Changing diapers

Always use a clean diaper on the baby. Never re-use diapers as it is extremely unhygienic. Always check for wetness and change the diaper intermittently. You may also your baby wipes. 

If redness or rashes appear, immediately clean the area and let the baby have a nappie-free time to let the area dry. Use a redness or rash cream. 


Baby’s need 24x7 hours of care and maintain hygiene is of prime importance. It is the responsibility of the parent to look after the baby’s basic hygiene to avoid any such health issues. Immediately consult a child specialist if any major symptom shows up. Follow a journal or a guidebook to know more about baby care. 

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