Caring for Your Baby
Before you leave the hospital, ask for a bath demonstration. Once at home you can also ask someone to show you and your partner how to give a bath to your baby.
Your baby does not need to be bathed every day. However, it is important that every day your baby stays clean and dry.
Bath time is another time to bond together. Your baby will enjoy your gentle touch, your voice, and your closeness. Choose a time that you are both relaxed and when your baby is not hungry.
Set the temperature of your hot water at 49ºC (120ºF). Anything warmer, you may scald her.
Follow these tips to bath your baby:
• Get everything you need ready before you undress your baby: a mild unscented soap, washcloths, diaper and supplies, baby’s clothing, and a soft towel opened up on a safe surface to lay her on after the bath. Test your baby’s bath water before you put her in the bath. It should feel warm, not hot. Use the inside of your wrist or your elbow to test.
• Do not add oil or liquid soap in the bath to avoid a slippery baby.
• Use soap only for the dirtiest areas. You do not need to use soap every day.
• Use clear water and a soft washcloth for bathing your baby. Start by washing her eyes, face and then move down her body.
• Shampooing is only needed once or twice a week. Use a mild shampoo, rinse well and rub dry.
• Always be within arm’s reach when your baby is in the water. Never leave her alone, even for a brief moment.
• If using a bath seat always be within arm’s reach. Never rely on the bath seat to keep your baby safe. Health Canada doesn’t recommend their use.
• Take your baby with you if you have to leave the room. If you need to answer your phone during bath time, pick up your baby and take her with you.
• If your baby still has the stump of her umbilical cord, ensure it does not stay wet.
• To dry her, place her on a towel and pat dry. Pay special attention to drying skin folds.
Immunize your baby
Starting at two months of age, your baby will need to start her immunization schedule. Breastfeeding provides protection for your baby and immunization adds to that protection. Immunization will help your baby fight off vaccine-preventable diseases and stay healthy. It is also important for your baby to receive these vaccines in order to enter daycare and school.
When your baby is being immunized, breastfeeding and holding your baby skin-to-skin can help lessen the pain of the injection. Your healthcare provider will give you information about the vaccines and a booklet to keep track of the vaccinations your baby has had. Make sure you keep this booklet in a safe place.
Provide Supervised Tummy Time
Tummy time helps to prevent flat spots on your baby’s head (positional plagiocephaly). It is also important to develop healthy muscles.
Below are tummy time tips:
• Start tummy time right from birth.
• Place your baby on her tummy for short periods. You can try it after a diaper change.
• You can provide tummy time when she is tummy-down on your tummy.
• Gradually increase the time on her tummy, as she gets older.
• Always stay close to her and play with her during tummy time.
• When she is awake, give her lots of cuddle time. You want to avoid long periods in sitting positions like in the car seat, a stroller, a bouncer, etc.
Consult your health care provider if your baby develops a flat spot on her head.
Diapering your Baby
Most newborns need about 10 to 15 diaper changes per day. Your baby needs to be dry and clean to keep skin healthy and to help prevent diaper rash.
Changing a diaper is another time for you and your baby to bond together. Make that time special by talking to her, laughing, singing, caressing and playing with her.
When changing her diaper:
• Get everything ready before you change her diaper (e.g., diaper, wipes, and towel).
• Wash your hands with soap and water before and after each change.
• Follow the manufacturer instructions for the change table and use the safety straps.
• Never leave her alone and never turn your head away even for a brief moment.
• Clean the area with an unscented baby wipe or a wet washcloth. To better reach all the dirty areas, gently lift your baby’s legs by the ankles. For a baby girl, always wipe from front to back and gently clean the dirty areas.
• For a baby boy, clean the dirty area from front to back and do not pull the foreskin back. Place his penis in a downward position before fastening the diaper.
• Dry the area. You can pat dry or let it air dry. There is no need to use cream, powder or cornstarch.
• Slide the open diaper under the baby while gently lifting her legs and feet.
• For a newborn, keep the diaper folded below the cord so it can dry better.
• The diaper should be snug but not tight.
Caring for Your Baby’s Nails
Baby’s fingernails grow fast. They are soft, pliable and sharp. You need to trim them to prevent your baby from scratching herself. Follow these few tips:
• Make sure you have enough light to see what you are doing.
• Cut her nails when she is sleeping.
• Use blunt scissors or clippers to cut her nails.
• Press her finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking her skin.
• Hold your baby’s hand as you clip.
• To avoid infections or hurting her, do not peel off her nails or nibble on her nails to trim them.