Bathing can be a very pleasurable experience for you and your baby. Water at the right temperature should feel pleasantly warm on the inside of your wrist. Use a sanitized basin or an infant tub.
Below is a helpful checklist for the recommended items you may need for "bath-time"
- Soft washcloths
- Hooded bath towel
- Clean change of clothes (including a diaper)
- Extra towels
- Baby-formulated soap, lotion, baby oil, and shampoo
Helpful tips for bathing
- ALWAYS keep at least one hand on your baby AT ALL TIMES. Their skin is especially slippery during and after baths.
- NEVER leave to answer your door or your phone (If there is an emergency and you have to stop, wrap your baby up in a towel and take the baby with you)
- Only run 2 - 3 inches of water in the tub
- Make sure that the area around where you are washing your baby is covered with non-slip rugs
- Make sure that the faucet is not hot (If so, cover it or run cool water through it to cool it)
- Support your baby's neck and head while bathing.
Changing diapers is a skill that will get easier with time. You will learn to determine what is the most comfortable changing method.
Diapering Dos and Don'ts
The baby will dirty diapers about 10 times a day or about 70 times a week.
Before diapering a baby, make sure you have all supplies within reach so you won't have to leave your baby unattended on the changing table. You'll need:
- a clean diaper
- a fastener (if cloth is used)
- diaper ointment if the baby has a rash
- a container of warm water
- clean washcloth or cotton balls
After each bowel movement or if the diaper is wet, lay your baby on her back and remove the dirty diaper. Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper.
Diaper rash is a common concern. Typically the rash is red and bumpy and will go away in a few days with warm baths, some diaper cream and a little time out of the diaper. Most rashes occur because the baby's skin is sensitive and becomes irritated by the wet or poopy diaper.
To prevent or heal diaper rash, try these tips:
- Change your baby's diaper frequently, and as soon as possible after bowel movements.
- After cleaning the area with mild soap and water or a wipe, apply a diaper rash or "barrier" cream.
- Let the baby go un-diapered for part of the day. This gives the skin a chance to air out.
If the diaper rash continues for more than 3 days or seems to be getting worse, call your doctor — it may be caused by a fungal infection that requires a prescription.
Tips for changing baby boys:
- ALWAYS keep the penis covered through the changing process (otherwise, you might get "showered")!
- Clean all genitalia gently and do not pull the foreskin back.
- Wipe all creases and apply powder on the genitals and buttocks to prevent a possible rash.
- If you notice yellow secretions, this is normal. If the penis tip appears swollen and you notice crusted, yellow sores (containing fluid) at the end of the penis, call your doctor.
Tips for changing baby girls:
- Make sure that you wipe her clean starting from the vagina to the rectum (This decreases the chance of infection).
- Do NOT pull the labia back to clean inside (folds of the vagina).
- Wipe all creases and apply powder on the genitals and buttocks to prevent a possible rash.
Tips to keep baby's sensitive skin healthy, soft, and smooth
- Remember to use only baby-formulated products for your infant (unless otherwise suggested by your physician).
- Don't panic about the white "acne-looking" bumps that are breaking out on your baby's face. This is called baby acne and often occurs in newborns. The white bumps are the result of oil glands that have not matured yet. The baby still has some of your hormones as a result of being in your uterus during the pregnancy and it usually takes about 6 weeks for your baby's system to stabilize. The bumps will then go away. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, the only thing you need to do is wash them with water. Don't use soap or attempt to squeeze them because this may aggravate the bumps and make them worse.
- Protect your baby from sun, wind, and dry air. Keep your baby covered and appropriately clothed (avoid over-dressing) to minimize the risk of heat rash. Also, limit the amount of time that your baby is exposed to sun, especially in the first 6 months. Your baby's skin is extremely sensitive to the sun. Check with your pediatrician about whether to use sunscreen before your baby turns 6 months. Always use a hat whenever you are outside with your baby.
- "Squeaky Clean" is not always good. Minimize the number of times that you wash your baby with soap. This allows the skin to maintain its normal pH level and it reduces the chances of irritation.
- A variety of normal spots or marks may appear on you baby's skin. Some are called Mongolian spots and usually appear on the bottom or back of your baby. These spots usually disappear after the baby's first birthday. Strawberry marks (red, soft, raised marks) may also occur and will disappear as well.
- "Baby dandruff" can be normal. This scaling, crusty, oily scalp is called cradle cap. It may appear on your baby's head during the first few months and is caused by oil glands that are working overtime. Although is doesn't look good, it doesn't itch, and it can be treated by washing the baby's head with a baby shampoo every few days. A baby brush and oil may help to loosen and remove cradle cap as well.
Infant Feeding Practices
Breast Feeding - Heavenly Nectar for Babies
Breast feeding is the greatest and the best gift any mother can give her child. The baby should be exclusively breast fed for the first six months; thereafter weaning foods can be introduced.
To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
- Give the first milk or colostrum to the baby
- Exclusive breastfeeding - that is, the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water
- Breastfeeding on demand - that is, as often as the child wants, day and night
- No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Benefits to the Baby
- Breast milk contains calories and the right kind of proteins, fats, lactose, vitamins, iron, minerals, water and enzymes in amounts necessary for your baby
- Breast milk contains Vitamin D, Vitamin A, C and E more than cow's milk
- Breast milk is clean, free from bacteria and has anti-infective properties
- It also contains substances which prevent harmful bacteria from growing in intestines and causing loose stools
- It is ready to serve when the baby wants it, needs no preparation and is at the right temperature. It is economical and free from contamination.
- Breastfeeding enhances the emotional bond between the child and the mother and provides warmth, love and affection
- Breastfeeding protects the child against several infections including respiratory and diarrhoeal infections
- Breastfed babies are less prone to getting diabetes, heart diseases, eczema, asthma and other allergic disorders later in life
- Breastfed babies have been shown to have a higher IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and develop better mathematical abilities than infants who are not breastfed
- Breastfeeding enhances brain development. There is better visual development and visual acuity leading to learning readiness.
Benefits to the Mother
- It reduces post-delivery bleeding and chances of anemia
- Obesity is less common among breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding also helps the mother in shedding the extra weight gained during pregnancy.
- It has a contraceptive effect and helps in spacing pregnancies
- It has a protective effect against breast and ovarian cancers
Facts to Remember
- Sucking reflex is most active in first 30 to 60 minutes of birth
- Colostrum, which is the first yellowish secretion from the breast contains antibodies which help prevent infection
- Breast feeding should be initiated after caesarean section when you are out of the effect of anesthesia in the lying to one side position
- Foremilk comes first and is thin and contains less fat. Hind milk comes at the end of feed and is thicker and full of fats. A baby needs both.
- One breast must be emptied out fully before the second is offered, so that the baby receives both foremilk and hind milk. Alternate breast should be offered at each feed.
- You can breastfeed a preterm baby successfully
- You should breastfeed your baby exclusively for first 6 months and continue breastfeeding well upto 2 years or beyond with complementary food.
- Sign of adequate milk supply, is the baby passing urine 6 times (or more) in 24 hours and baby gaining weight 500gms per month
- Pain in the nipple is because the baby is not taking in the whole areola into the mouth when feeding
- An exclusively breastfed baby sometimes passes frequent loose stools
- You can continue breastfeeding even if you are sick
- Frequent washing or cleaning of the breast is likely to remove the antibacterial lubricating oil produced by the special glands present in the areola. Daily bath is enough
- Starting bottle feed leads to three major problems
- Baby starts refusing the breast due to nipple confusion.
- It will reduce your own milk supply
- The baby becomes more prone to infections because of bottle.
- If the baby has to be given artificial milk it should be given with a cup or a spoon and not with a bottle as this can lead to infections
- Smoking can reduce your milk supply. It may also make your child more prone to respiratory infections and asthma
- Twins can be breastfed simultaneously using one breast for each feed and alternating the breasts for next feeds. Breast milk production is usually sufficient to meet with the requirements of both the babies
Guidelines for successful breastfeeding for working mothers-
Before you return to work:
- Enjoy this special time with your baby
- Learn how to express breastmilk
- Breastfeed the baby frequently and on demand to establish a good milk supply
- A few days before you return to work, give expressed breast milk-feed to your baby with a cup or a spoon
On Joining Work:
- Breastfeed early in the morning, just before leaving for work and then again when you come back
- If your place of work is near your home, come back home to breastfeed during breastfeeding breaks
- Again breastfeed frequently after you come back in the evening
- At night breastfeed the child as many times as possible
- If creche facilities are available near the place of work then baby can be fed during breastfeeding breaks
- Express breastmilk during work in a clean container for storage to be given to baby later on or discard to relieve heaviness. This will ensure adequate milk production.