Baby Hygiene: What You Need to Know
Whether you’re still expecting or you’ve just recently had a baby, one of the first things for a newbie parent to consider are the questions around your baby’s hygiene. In the first years of their life, babies can’t really take care of their own body, and that’s why moms and dads are here to jump in and help their way towards independence and healthy growth.
A baby’s hygiene is one of the most important stuff that you need to keep track of in your baby’s life – maintaining a regular set of practices of cleaning your baby’s body is a crucial part of keeping them healthy and ensuring their development is going well and unhindered. Nevertheless, this also doesn’t mean that babies should be spotless – it’s important to also allow a bit of ickiness in their life ones in a while because it’s important for the immune system.
In order to make the beginning of your parenting journey easier and more organized, what we’re going to cover next are the basics on what you need to know about your baby’s hygiene and how to handle it like the pros that you are.
What You Need to do Before Cleaning Your Baby:
Wash Your Hands
Okay, the first thing you need to know before beginning the baby-washing routine is to wash your own hands first. Hands are one of the perfect dwelling places of bacteria and viruses and babies in their earliest months are very susceptible to various microorganisms that might cause more or less serious infections in them like the flu, diarrhea, cold and others. That’s why it’s so important to find a good anti-bacterial soap and scrub your hands well before picking up your little one. This also goes for washing your hands before you start preparing food for your baby or feeding them.
You should also pay attention to the surfaces where you intend to clean your baby – make sure the space where you do this has also been cleaned recently so that you don’t cause another potential source for the accumulation of microorganisms.
Sanitize Your Home
Besides keeping track of your own hygiene, you should also see that your home is a place where microbes and germs won’t get much of a chance to spread around and multiply. Use a disinfectant solution for cleaning the floors - we all know this is also one of the areas where babies will spend a lot of time after they start crawling. Focus on sanitizing the areas that the baby uses most, as well as the areas where you do the washing. Clean the bathroom and the kitchen with a disinfectant, and also clean your kitchen utensils with warm water and detergent when preparing the baby’s food. If the baby is using a milk bottle, make sure you wash it and sterilize it after each use to prevent unwanted bacteria.
Keep the Baby’s Toys Clean
This is maybe one of those things that are easy to forget, but it’s pretty important. When babies are really small, they’re usually in the habit of exploring and experiencing things with their mouth, which is why the toys they have also usually end up there. That’s why it’s good to keep in mind to always regularly wash baby’s toys with plain water.
Cleaning Your Baby’s Body:
Regular baby baths
protect the little one from skin infections, but be careful not to overdo it because too much of it may damage or dry out the baby’s skin. Two or three times a week is just enough to keep your baby clean and happy. Sponge baths are especially useful for newborns, helping with regeneration of the navel area.
Before each bath make sure you also regularly clean their face and wipe any grime off their skin. Also, make sure you clean their genitals well after each diaper change.
When it comes to the baby’s hair, it’s also not necessary to wash it every day – again, two to three times a week is perfect. Your baby’s hair has its own way of producing a small amount of oil, so you don’t want to disturb the balance and dry it out. You may want to wash your baby more frequently if it has cradle cap – it’s a type of rash that manifests in greasy, scaly patches, but it goes away on its own. If your baby has eczema, however, you should avoid using shampoo and use an emollient as an alternative. Just make sure that you’re using a clean baby shampoo
, organic if possible, and do your research on what ingredients you need to avoid
Fingernails are areas of the body that microorganisms just love to hang out in, which is why it’s important to regularly trim your baby’s nails and keep them clean. Babies touch a lot of stuff and their fingernails get dirty very easily – and if the fingernails get too long and sharp it’s easy for the babies to scratch and hurt themselves, maybe even cause an infection. It’s usually recommended that you trim your baby’s nails while they’re asleep. Also, make sure to use clippers that are specially made for babies in order to avoid any injuries.
Ears are also one of those delicate areas of babies’ bodies, so you should be gentle and attentive when cleaning them. This means that you should never get cotton buds inside the ears of the baby because it may cause an infection or injuries to the eardrum. Clean the behind of the baby’s ears and the outer shell with a washcloth or cotton buds dipped in warm water. See for signs of a possible ear infection if your baby keeps being uncomfortable while you’re cleaning their ears and consult a pediatrician as soon as possible if you think there might be any chance of it.
Babies’ eyes tend to accumulate mucus in their earliest months which dries out and can prevent them from seeing properly (also commonly called ‘sticky eyes’). That’s why you should clean your baby’s eyes regularly – you can use cotton balls or a washcloth. When it comes to water, it’s better to use sterilized water for the eyes themselves so you don’t run the risk of causing any more trouble to your little one’s sight.
Babies’ noses also tend to get clogged often which is why cleaning them regularly is so important - it will help them breathe better and be less fussy during the day. For this, you can also use cotton balls or a washcloth and gently clean the deposit of dried mucus around the nostrils of your baby, as well as their insides by gently inserting the cotton balls in each nostril (use a separate clean ball for each nostril). For the nose washing, you can use a saline solution.
Umbilical Cord and Belly Button
In its earliest days of life, the baby will still have its umbilical cord on it. And while it does fall off on its own in a week or 10 days maximum, it’s still a good idea to avoid any risk of possible infection and keep the area clean and disinfected several times a day. You can do this by rubbing the place with a sterile gauze pad that’s been dipped in antiseptic and afterward carefully dry it with another clean pad.
The belly button is usually cleaned like other areas of the body, by using a warm moist washcloth to go over the area of the navel. You might also want to consider moisturizing the belly area shortly after the navel heals from the umbilical cord. Make sure to use sensitive skin baby lotions that won’t cause further irritation and steer away from the adult ones.
This is one of the most important parts of maintaining good baby hygiene. You really want to avoid overflows and diaper rash
, so make sure you do it as much as necessary during the day. Diapers should usually be changed every two hours or as soon as you realize your baby is wet. Before you change your baby into a new and clean diaper, make sure you thoroughly clean up their bottom and genital area. You can do this with a regular clean cloth dipped in warm water or plain tissues and wipes (avoid any perfumed or scented wipes that might cause further irritation to the skin). After doing this make sure you let the skin breathe a little before enclosing it again with another diaper and make sure it’s properly dried. All of this will prevent the emergence of diaper rash and other types of irritation in the diaper area. But if you’re looking for ways to treat diaper rash, you can check out our article on diaper rash treatment
Drying the Skin
Apart from the necessity of washing and doing regular baby baths, proper drying is just as essential. Enough air drying time is also a basic part of baby hygiene – it’s important to let the gentle baby’s skin breathe on its own, without constant contact with different kinds of materials and fabric. Nevertheless, besides the air drying, after washing the baby make sure to pay attention to parts of their body with creases where moist accumulates the most, like for example the wrists, the elbows, the neck, the feet, the knees, the thighs, the fingers and toes and the area around the genitals. Covered parts of the skin that are moist can be perfect places for fungal infections and/or rashes, so that’s why it’s important to make sure your baby’s skin is dry before putting a diaper and clothes back on it.