Baby’s aren’t able to do much for themselves, and what I really mean by that is that they can’t do anything for themselves and need you to do it all. There are some things you’re expecting to keep up with before they arrive like keeping them in a clean diaper, cleaning up spit up and giving them sweet little baby baths. But there are a whole bunch of other baby hygiene tasks you may not have thought about. Or maybe you have but you have no idea how to manage them! Here’s a little guide to get you started on the right foot!
1. Cleaning Baby’s Eyes, Ears and Nose
You most likely won’t be giving your baby a bath everyday right away and some people don’t do daily baths ever which is perfectly fine! But you do want to gently wash your baby’s eyes, ears and nose regularly- ideally daily. Obviously this is where a lot of germs congregate so keeping them free of gunk is key. You don’t need to use soap each time as that can dry them out but a wet, warm cloth is the perfect tool.
For their eyes simply put the warm cloth over your finger and gently wipe it from one corner of their eye to the other. Repeat on the other eye with a different part of the cloth- this keeps bacteria from being transferred from one eye to the other.
For their ears and nose you’ll just use the warm, wet cloth to gently wipe around and over these areas. I know you might be tempted to try and clean out any earwax you see in their ear but you should NOT put anything inside their ear like a q-tip. If you see wax it is perfectly ok to leave it be.
2. Controlling their Fingernails
The nails! I don’t know what is in breastmilk or formula that makes babies’ nails grow so crazy fast but I need to get some of that for my own nails! Seriously, it baffles me how quick my little guy’s nails grow. I recommend clipping their nails at least once a week (maybe even twice) since if they do get long, they are likely to scratch themselves (or you!).
It can be scary to cut a baby’s nails because you’re worried you’re going to cut their sweet baby skin. I recommend these Frida Baby nail clippers. They have a window that means you can see exactly what and how much nail you’re cutting. They are also curved and shaped more like scissors to cut more smoothly and evenly and the nail kit comes with a great little file as well. It seems like baby’s nails come out needing to be trimmed so I recommend having baby clippers at the ready! I actually took mine to the hospital with me so I could be sure he wouldn’t scratch himself in those first days after birth.
3. Cradle Cap
If you haven’t heard of cradle cap, it is simply crusty or scaly patches that often occur on a baby’s scalp. It isn’t painful or itchy for babies and in most cases it will simply clear up on its own in a few months. However, if you’re wanting to help move things along you can use a mild shampoo and a soft brush to help loosen the patches. Some people also find that something like coconut oil or Vaseline can help encourage the scales to sluff off.
My baby boy had quite a bit and I had great success with just regular baby shampoo and the Frida Baby silicone brush. My little guy seemed to think it was like a scalp massage! If the problem persists or seems to cause discomfort you can speak with your pediatrician about other options like a medicated shampoo.
Baby’s have fairly delicate skin and it can get dry easily. One way to help with this is to limit the use of soap during baths since soap (even the kinds marketed for babies) can be drying. Another great way to help keep their skin hydrated is to use a baby friendly lotion to moisturize their skin. You’ll want to pick something safe for a baby that won’t irritate their skin further.
If your baby’s skin is particularly sensitive you’ll probably want something fragrance free. If your baby’s skin seems more tolerant you could use a scented option with something like lavender that can be a calming scent when applied. We love this lotion in our house but keep in mind that every baby is different and you may have some trial and error to find one that your baby’s skin enjoys. Before bed is a great time to take care of this hygiene task because it can double as a way to relax your baby before getting them settled for bed.
5. Oral Hygiene
So your baby most likely won’t come out of the womb with teeth (whew!) so you may not be worried about teeth brushing from the get-go, but there are several things to be aware of when taking care of your baby’s oral health. Pediatric dentists do actually recommend that you clean babies’ gums regularly with a warm washcloth, just rubbing it along the gum line to help prevent bacterial growth. This can be done before they have any teeth! Once your baby starts to have teeth grow in you’ll want to begin brushing with a soft bristled child’s toothbrush right away.
The recommendation used to be to use a fluoride free toothpaste (since babies will often end up swallowing toothpaste), but the new recommendation is that because such a small amount of toothpaste is used each time, that a fluoride brand is perfectly fine. You only need a grain of rice sized amount of paste until they’re about 3 and then you can transition to about a pea sized amount. Once they have teeth, it’s also a good time to go ahead and schedule their first dental visit! Even though they may only have 1 or 2 teeth, your dentist can get you started on the right path for your child’s overall oral health.
Hopefully these tips help you feel more confident in managing your baby’s hygiene. But just remember that you are the best mama for that little baby, even if you forget to brush their gums or let their nails get a little too long.