Babies aren’t neat. They aren’t clean either. Sure, adjectives like cute, adorable, and oh so sweet can be thrown around to describe these little newborn nuggets. But clean or neat? Nope, they aren’t going to make the cut.
That is exactly why it is new mom and dad’s job to take care of their baby’s hygiene. And this is a super important part of the whole new parenting gig that has come about. It is so important to set good hygiene principles for babies so that they don’t get sick or unhealthy.
Of course, this isn’t to say that newborn babies should be wrapped up in cotton wool and kept in a safety clean bubble. Certainly not – what new parent has time to organise such a bubble anyway!
However, there are many points of hygiene that need to be taken care of. This is especially true around delicate bits of the newborn baby, such as their genitals. Hence why there are certain things to be aware of based on the baby’s gender.
Get informed and ready with these top things to be aware of to tend to your baby’s hygiene based on their gender. Little boys and little girls have different needs in many ways, it turns out!
12 Girls’ Discharge Doesn’t Need To Be Wiped
With newborn baby girls, the vaginal area is going to be quite sensitive and delicate. Even though she is the one who gripped and pushed her way out of mom’s vagina, it doesn’t mean that hers doesn’t need some TLC now.
Since now the vagina is adapting to new air and oxygen as well as the touch of a nappy, there are going to be some sensitivities. One thing that happens a lot with newborn baby girls is that they have vaginal discharge. This is normally white or clear in colour and much like discharge that happens to adults. It just isn’t expected from babies! Sometimes, there might be a little blood mixed in with the discharge because of all the sensitivities. It is normal and actually doesn’t need to be wiped every time it happens. Vaginas are self-cleaning from day one!
11 Boy Bits Don’t Drop Right Away
When there’s a little boy, there’s going to be little dangly bits, of course. But these bits don’t necessarily drop straight away. Sometimes baby boys look as though they have swelling around the scrotum and one side can look bigger than the other. This is because the testicles may not have fully descended yet.
This isn’t a major concern as they are on their way. However, if there does look like there is any swelling, extra care needs to be taken care when washing around the scrotum and penis area. Even avoiding using a towel or wipe for the first few weeks is recommended. Just a light, warm water wash should do the trick until all the bits are dangling and down. Even then, you’ll still need to be gentle washing around this sensitive area!
10 Watch Out For The Foreskin
A baby boy’s foreskin, whether circumcised or not, is a very delicate area. If circumcision has happened, then washing this area needs extra care. Basically, there is a slight risk of infection while the area is still healing. In this case, avoid using any soaps or wipes around this region. Just stick to warm water and letting it air dry.
If the penis hasn’t been circumcised, the foreskin is still growing and developing. It is jam packed with nerve endings and doesn’t want to be touched too much. Certainly wash around the area, avoiding too much soap, but be careful to leave the penis still. In the first few weeks, it is more important just to wipe the area rather than vigorously scrub it. Don’t pull the foreskin back or anything – this isn’t going to get a good reaction from your little boy!
9 Keep It Simple With Diaper Changes
The newborn baby stage is a time where simple really is best. This is especially true when it comes to diaper changes and cleaning the genitals and bottom area of either a boy or girl. There is just no need to splurge on fancy wipes and perfumed scents for the bum area. The baby’s skin won’t appreciate it, nor will the bank account!
Rather, just stick to plain wipes and tissues. Investing in some that are designed for delicate skin is a good idea, given how fragile and tender the baby’s skin is downstairs. But you really don’t need anything heavily scented or containing perfumed lotions. Rather, just a clean cloth or damp tissue will do the trick. What is more important is to change the diaper regularly and remove any soiled diapers to prevent nappy rash.
8 The Genital Skin Needs TLC
For both baby boys and girls, the genitalia area is very tender and delicate during the first few weeks of the newborn stage. Of course, this is always going to be a tender and sensitive area no matter the age! However, in those first precious weeks at home, these areas really need to be tended to gently and attentively.
This is because that oh so soft and delicate baby skin is prone to diaper rash. Remember, prior to this, the baby was just floating around in the womb with a free bottom end. Now, it is been crammed into diapers. The first line of defense is keeping the area clean and dry. Air drying is fine, or using a fine cloth. If the skin is particularly sensitive, using a yeast cream might be recommended to prevent and treat rashes.
7 The Scrotum Needs Scrubbing
With little boys, the bit that tends to stand out the most is really the penis. However, there is so much more to this genitalia that just the sticky-outy bit at the front. Who could forget about the ball sac bouncing around the back! The scrotum needs plenty of attention when it comes to hygiene for newborn baby boys.
During bathing time, make sure you give the scrotum a good scrub, but of course be gentle about it. This area tends to collect bacteria and store it between the folds of the ball sac skin. So you will need to wriggle them about a bit and make sure all the folds are nice and clean. While doing this, make sure you are being extra gentle with the penis and particularly the foreskin. Just gently lift it out of the way, but don’t put too much pressure on it.
6 Diaper Free Time Is Important For Both
Going a la natural never hurt anyone, especially not a newborn baby. While it seems the opposite of hygienic to have their bare bottoms and bits exposed to the elements, giving a baby boy or girl some diaper free is really good for the skin and the immune system.
After having a bath and loosely drying your baby, give them some time to roll around on a mat on the ground for a while without any clothes on or a diaper. This allows the air to naturally dry around the genitals and gives the skin a chance to breath. It also exposes the skin to both good and bad bacterias, helping to build up an immunity and resistance. Of course, make sure the mat the baby is laying on is nice and clean!
5 Wipe From Front To Back For Girls
Baby girls with their baby vaginas need to learn the correct wiping method early on. This is best done by example and best done with mom getting the example right early on! It is super important in the newborn phase to wipe from the front to the back, as it is for the rest of a girl’s life.
Wiping front to back means the vagina is cleaned first and the bacteria are sent away. Doing this in reverse, from back to front, basically drags anything from the bum hole area to the front of the vagina and may contaminate the urethra and bladder. Since the vagina is way more sensitive and susceptible, especially for newborns, it doesn’t want or need any bacteria or nasties coming near it. Stick to the front to back motion and make it a habit early on, then make sure you teach your little girl when she starts wiping for herself.
4 Keep An Eye On The Labia
This one obviously applies to baby girls as the labia is the skin folds that cover the vagina. These are very thin and delicate bits of skin that need to be cleaned quite well. They help the vagina with its self cleaning and discharge which is important for a girl’s hygiene.
So the best way to approach the labia is to lift your little girl’s legs right up in the air. Hold them a little bit apart if you can and tend to the labia. Using a cotton wool ball dipped in warm water, wipe between the labia. You won’t need any cream or vaseline unless the labia skin looks dry and red. Make sure you use a front to back motion that no bacteria are been dragged towards the urethra or bladder.
3 Tend To The Umbilical Cord For Both
Another important part of hygiene for both baby boys and girls is the umbilical cord. This will take a few weeks to fall off completely and in that time it does need to be washed and tended to. It is best to clean the area around the umbilical cord with a cotton bud or gentle cloth, then let it dry naturally.
When putting the diaper on your baby boy or girl, pay particular attention to where it sits. You don’t want it covering the umbilical cord, so you should fold the plastic over so that it doesn’t even touch the area. This can be a bit harder with boys as you need to the nappy to sit right to cover their little penis, but not so high that it nears the umbilical cord.
2 Always Wash Your Hands First
For the hygiene sake of everyone involved, mom needs to make sure she is clean before she starts cleaning the baby. This is especially true for washing the hands as these little parts of the body love gathering up bacteria since they touch just about everything through the day.
So first off all, wash your hands with some warm soapy water before tending to your baby. More than this, make sure the space where you are cleaning your baby is fresh and hygienic too. Since this is normally the bathroom, check for any spills or mould growing and get rid of it before bubs is exposed. Then of course, when touching the baby’s genitalia, make sure your hands are thoroughly clean so as not to spread any bacteria where it’s not wanted.
1 Dry The Skin In All The Creases
Washing is important for babies’ hygiene, but drying is, too. While it is fine to let a baby air dry naturally a few times a week, it is still important to pay attention to moisture between the folds of the skin before putting a diaper and clothes back on.
The folds of the skin differ for little boys and little girls. With baby boys, the main places to make sure are thoroughly dry are around the upper thighs and where the skin meets the scrotum. These areas fold over quickly and moisture can cause rashes if not dried properly. For girls, the skin around the hips and thighs will have the most folds. For both boys and girls, don’t forget about their little chubbby knees and elbows as a lot of moisture can end up here.
Sources: Parents.com, Raisingchildren.net.au, Hygieneexpert.co.uk