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May 2022

Baby Care 101

As a new parent, taking care of your infant can be a little intimidating. There are so many “firsts” to tackle—from baby’s first bath to those initial wobbly steps. Brush up on your caregiving skills with this quick primer.

Bathing

It can be tempting to give your baby a daily bath. After all, it’s a great way to bond. But too much bathing can dry delicate skin. Instead, try to limit bath time to no more than 3 times a week for the first year. Always check the temperature first to make sure the water isn’t too hot. Use mild soap sparingly. Gently wash your child’s face first and continue with the rest of the body, finishing with the diaper area.

Nail trimming

Babies’ fingernails grow quickly. And because infants explore with their hands, long nails can result in scratched faces and other mishaps. To protect your little one, use a small nail clipper to keep nails under control. Trim your baby’s nails during naptime when hands are at rest. Gently push down on the skin above the nail when trimming to avoid cutting the finger. Smooth any rough edges with an emery board.

 

Teeth brushing

Tooth decay—which develops when the mouth is infected with bad bacteria—is the most common infectious disease in childhood. That’s why it’s so important to start good dental health early. Keep your infant’s mouth clean by gently wiping the gums with a washcloth. When their first tooth appears, brush it with a soft toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle—long exposure to liquids other than water can lead to tooth decay.

First haircut

When it comes to your baby’s first haircut, there are no rules. The timing of this milestone is largely based on family custom or preference. Whether the hair is cut in infancy or a year (or more!) down the road, it will not affect how thick your baby’s hair will be or how fast it will grow. Do what feels right. Just remember to save a snippet as a keepsake.

Baby shoes

From sparkly booties to tiny sneakers, the choice of baby shoes is endless. But putting shoes on your infant can actually restrict movement and interfere with foot development. Even when your little one starts to walk, it’s best to go without shoes as much as possible. Walking barefoot helps build foot strength. Opt for lightweight, flexible shoes when your child is walking outside or on rough surfaces.

If you still have questions, or are looking for more tips, talk with your little one’s pediatrician. They’re your go-to baby expert!

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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