Your baby’s skin is extremely sensitive, and it’s usually recommended to only use warm water when cleaning them for at least the first few weeks. When your baby was born, they may have been covered in a thick, sticky, white substance known as vernix. It is best to let this be absorbed into your baby’s skin, as it acts like a moisturiser.
Your baby may also have sticky eyes in the early days. Using a cotton wool ball dampened in a little cooled boiled water gently wipe each eye from the inner corner of the eye outwards in one sweep. Swipe again with a new, dry cotton wool ball. Be careful to use a clean cotton wool ball in clean water for each eye to avoid any infection.
Nappy rash is a common problem so it’s important to change your baby’s nappy regularly. Clean the nappy area with warm water and cotton wool and allow to dry thoroughly. Allow your baby some time to kick about without a nappy (perhaps lying on a folded towel). This can help reduce nappy rash. You can also use a petroleum-based lubricant to protect your baby’s skin. If nappy rash becomes a problem, contact your GP.
After birth, your baby’s umbilical cord will have been clamped and cut and either a plastic clip or cord tie will have been used to tie off the end. Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will normally fall off in the first week or so after birth. Keep it clean and dry. Some mums fold nappies down so the stump is free of the nappy. Don’t worry if the cord stump is short and this is not possible.
Sometimes the stump can smell a little while it is drying up, before it falls off, but if it appears red, bleeds or has any discharge, do speak to your midwife.
It is important to cut your baby’s fingernails regularly as they grow quickly, are quite sharp and your baby can scratch themselves easily. You can buy special baby nail clippers or scissors. Many parents find it easier to use an emery board (soft file). Scratch mitts can be used but take these off for skin to skin or breastfeeding.