Washing Up Baby

January 23, 2013  |  
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When parents get home from the hospital, they want to take the very best care of their new baby, and that includes the best way to bathe her. But that delicate skin can be hard to care for and parents aren’t always sure where to start. Mayo Clinic Pediatric dermatologist Dr. Dawn Davis has put together bathing and skin care guidelines for newborns to be published in the upcoming issue of International Journal of Dermatology. Infants are ready for their first bath once their body temperature and cardiorespiratory status stabilize, about six hours after being born. Keep these in mind before that first bath:

  • Immerse baby in just a few inches of water, except for her head and neck. This helps keep her body temperature stable. Support your little one and make sure the water is no warmer than 120 degrees.
  • Don’t give baby a bath every day; every other day should be enough. On the days she doesn’t get a bath, it’s fine to wipe her whole body down with a soft, damp cloth. Be sure to wipe the eyelids from corner to corner.
  • Water is enough. Newborn skin is incredibly delicate, so parents shouldn’t feel they have to buy products. If you do choose a cleanser, make sure it has a neutral pH and is free of dyes or fragrances. Most important? Use it sparingly.

The announcement also includes some helpful hints when it comes to diapering and diaper rash:

  • To care for that adorable baby butt, it’s okay to use plain water for wiping. If you do choose a baby wipe, alcohol- and lanolin-free choices will be less irritating to the skin. Feel free to let baby air dry once in a while, too.
  • If baby does develop diaper rash, use zinc oxide as a barrier between his and urine and stool. If that doesn’t work, call your pediatrician.

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