Congratulations on your new baby! Nothing is more joyous than meeting your little one for the first time. After all that excitement it’s time to start your parenting journey now. Once home many new parents become anxious and you may feel like you don’t know what you are doing. Don’t worry, most new parents feel this way, but you’ve got this! I have compiled a list of tips on normal day-to-day newborn care that will help put some of that anxiety to rest.
One of the things I see many parents worry about after bringing their baby home is the umbilical cord. Many parents see discharge or bleeding and instantly think something is wrong. This is not always the case. Most newborns will have some blood oozing in that area, both before and after the cord detaches. This can go on for a week or two. If the bleeding is actively dripping or pooling and continues to do so even after wiping it, then you should schedule an appointment. As for discharge, every baby will have some yellow discharge on their cord stump before and after it detaches. If excess discharge is accompanied by a very foul odor and the skin around the area is very red and swollen, then this would be signs of infection and you would need to contact me. Make sure their umbilical cord area is staying clean and dry. You can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the base of the umbilical cord.
Now for giving your baby a bath! This may seem like a simple task but many first time parents have a lot of questions regarding bath time with their newborns.”How often should I bathe my newborn?” “When should I give my baby their first bath?” “How do I give my baby their first bath?” First off newborns do not require a daily bath. They should really only need a bath ever other day, making sure that their diaper area is cleaned proficiently during each change and using a wipe for any excess accumulation of milk in the neck area and hands. Baby’s skin is sensitive and too much bathing can dry the skin. For your newborns first bath you can wait 2 days after a home birth and when you get home from the hospital for hospital births. Newborns should only have sponge (washcloth) baths till their cord and/or circumcision heals, after that immersion baths are okay. A good way to keep newborns warm while having a bath is by getting the bathroom nice and steamy before washing them. Use a wet washcloth and start wiping down your baby making sure you are getting in all the crevices and creases. It is not necessary to use soap unless your baby is oily or sweaty, in this case use a mild soap.
Another thing that is stressful to some new parents is cutting your baby’s nails. Newborns nails can be very sharp and many newborns end up scratching their face often if not cut. There are a couple ways to easily cut their nails. The first is by using an electric nail file made for babies. The pad on it is extremely gentle, it is rough enough to file the nail down but not rough enough to damage your baby’s skin. The other is with miniature nail clippers. With either of these you will want press right under the nail so that the skin of the tip of the finger pulls away from the nail then clip. The easiest time to cut baby’s nails are while they are asleep right after a big feed. This helps your newborn relax their hands.
I hope these tips help ease some of the new parent worries. And I am always available during office hours for an appointment to discuss any worries you may have.
-Dr. Kenneth Akey