Caring for a newborn is a lot of work. A newborn is helpless and completely reliant on his momma for absolutely everything. There's no such thing as taking a break from newborn care or taking an eye off the baby for even one second. Sleep, showers and proper meals become figments of the imagination. There's no time for regular life stuff when a little one is crying, dirtying her diaper and needing more food. Of course, it's all worth it. There's nothing better than being the person your little one relies on. But it's also a tiring and thankless job.
One of the hardest parts of the job is knowing that there are so many things you need to be on the lookout for. Babies are resilient, yes, but they still require proper care. You can't just toss the baby down and hope for the best. There are rules for dressing the baby, feeding him, changing him, putting him to sleep. And of course, there are rules for taking care of a newborn's hygiene. Before we jump into a lot of the common mistakes that moms make with their little one's cleaning routine, we do want to say that all moms make mistakes. There is no such thing as the perfect mom. So no sweat if you are committing some of these common errors. Your baby is going to be just fine and all of these mistakes are easy to correct.
15 Using Q-Tips To Clean The Baby's Ears
It's so easy to reach for a q-tip or cotton swab when you can see some gunk hanging out in your baby's ears. After all, that's what we do with our own earwax, right? But it turns out, q-tips are actually bad for your little one. Baby's ears are really delicate and nothing should be put into them. A cotton swab in your baby's ears can damage the eardrum and even cause permanent hearing loss. Even if that wax looks gross to you, it's actually helpful for your babe. It seals out moisture, dirt and bacteria from getting into the ear. And if you do wipe it out, even more will be produced. Instead, wipe around the surface of the ear with a cotton ball or moist towel. If you're worried about excessive earwax, talk to your doctor.
14 Placing The Diaper Over The Umbilical Cord Stump
As the momma of a newborn, you must know all about diapering. Newborns require almost constant diaper changing. You might be going through almost a dozen diapers every day. Don't worry, those numbers will decrease and one day you'll maybe even forget how to change a diaper. But until then, you need to make sure you're doing diaper changes correctly, especially when your little one still has their umbilical cord stump. After the umbilical cord is cut, newborns sport a little stump that will eventually heal and fall off on its own. To help the stump steal, you need to make sure that the diaper is not placed on top of the stump. Put on the diaper as usual, but fold it down so that it doesn't cover the stump.
13 Washing The Face Last
A common mistake many parents make is just bathing the baby in any order. As long as they're getting clean, it's fine, right? Sadly, not so much. If you want to ensure your baby is really clean, you need to wash the face first. The reason for this is simple: you don't want to spread germs and bacteria from other parts of the body to the face. Ideally, you're also switching washcloths. You should have one designated just for your baby's face. Because imagine if you started with the body, wiping different parts, and then used that same cloth on your baby's face? Gross! Even if you did switch cloths, all of that body gunk has been scrubbed into the water, meaning your little one could still get something bad in their eyes, mouth, nose or ears.
12 Not Cleaning The Baby's Mouth Since They Have No Teeth
You may think that brushing your newborn's teeth is kind of ridiculous - what teeth? Newborns don't have any teeth so what why moms need to spend time brushing them? It's easy to see why most new moms skip out on oral hygiene for their little ones. But it's actually really important to clean your child's mouth even before they grow their first teeth. Wet a clean washcloth and run it along your baby's gums and tongue. You can do this twice a day, after their morning feeding and evening feeding, just like adults brushing their teeth in the morning and before bed. There's no need to use toothpaste or even a toothbrush until real teeth emerge. Once teeth do emerge, purchase an infant toothbrush with soft bristles and start cleaning with water initially.
11 Are You Wiping The Wrong Way?
Just because diaper changing happens all of the time, it doesn't mean it's easy. It takes a lot of time. There are diaper rashes to contend with. There are foul odors. There are those unlucky times when the mess from inside the diaper decides to leak out. And what about when you forget to pack a clean diaper or run out of wipes just when you need them the most? Or, if you have a baby boy, and you forget to cover him up and he decides diaper changing time is the perfect opportunity to pee on the walls? It's rough. But one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is wiping their baby the wrong way. All babies, especially girls, should be wiped from front to back. That way, you avoid getting any bacteria from the baby's feces into the bladder or urethra. Contamination down there is never fun so make sure you're wiping front to back always.
10 There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Shampoo
If your newborn has lots of hair or, like many babies, finds a way to get filthy no matter what they're doing, you might find yourself reaching for the shampoo bottle more often than normal. But remember, babies aren't quite as tough as us. Their skin is sensitive. And even if they have been passed from relative to relative or found a way to get milk and mush in their hair, they don't really need that much shampoo. For starters, most newborns are good to bathe just in water with a face cloth. They don't actually need any soap or other washing agents. If you do plan to use soap or shampoo, select a mild baby-friendly variety. And you only need to use about a nickel amount each time. That way, you can splurge on the fancy organic baby products since you'll make it last much longer.
9 Using The Same Cloth To Clean The Baby's Eyes
It's impressive how much laundry a tiny little newborn creates. For a small guy, a newborn goes through a ton of outfits, diapers, socks, towels, bibs, bedding, etc. So we wouldn't blame you if you were looking for a way to cut corners and not have your laundry machine running all day and night. But one place where you shouldn't skimp is when it comes to cleaning your baby. You might think it's perfectly fine to use the same cloth or cotton ball to clean your baby's whole face. As long as it's clean it's good to go, right? Wrong. When cleaning your baby's eyes, it's really important to use a different cloth or cotton ball for each eye. If one eye is infected or dirty, you don't want to spread that to the other eye. You should also wipe eyes from the inside corner to the outer corner.
8 Don't Bathe The Baby Daily
Again, just because you take a bath or shower every day doesn't mean your baby needs to. In fact, newborns only need to be bathed once or twice a week. And if your little one isn't a big fan of the bath, you can even get away with just wiping them down with a washcloth in between bathing sessions. It's important to keep a little one clean and free from dangerous bacteria, but too much bathing can actually make things worse. It can dry out sensitive skin and cause hair to become limp and flat. And plus, bathing a baby is a lot of work! It wastes water and other resources. It means doing more laundry and going through more diapers. And it takes time away from when a new momma should be resting or eating. So don't feel bad about skipping a bath.
7 Using Scented Soap And Shampoo
As cute as little newborns can be, sometimes they really stink. A foul diaper is enough to knock you out and bring tears to your eyes. Add to that the smell of old milk on their clothing, spit up and whatever else they get into and you've got a stinky baby. Sorry to break it to ya! But as stinky as your baby is, you'll want to stay away from scented or perfumed soaps at bathtime. Yes, it would be lovely if babies always smelled like rose petals or vanilla spice, but those heavily scented soaps can hurt your little one's sensitive skin. You don't know what allergies your baby has and you don't want to set off any rashes or irritations with the wrong soap. Stick to unscented, baby friendly soaps that are as natural as possible. And remember, you might not even need soap for the first little while.
6 Trim The Baby's Nails With An Adult Nail Clipper
Sometimes it's important to buy items specifically made for babies and other times you can get away with something you have at home. Many parents struggle with the idea of buying all of these baby-specific products that their little one will grow out of in no time. We get it - it's expensive and can sometimes feel silly to buy all this tiny stuff. But one thing you do want to buy is a pair of baby nail clippers. Trust us on this one. Baby nail cutters or scissors are specifically designed to work with your infant's tiny little fingers and toes. They'll make it easier for you to trim back the claws without accidentally nipping any skin. If you're still nervous about nail cutting, enlist another adult to help you out. One can hold the baby while the other trims. Or better yet, try and cut your baby's nails while they're sleeping!
5 Forgetting To Clean And Dry The Umbilical Cord Area
If you're noticing a theme, that's because a lot of newborn care has to do with the umbilical cord stump and area around it. This is a very sensitive area that is prone to infection. It's super important to keep this area clean for the 1-2 weeks it takes to heal, dry and fall off on its own. Of course, with everything else going on with a newborn, it's easy to forget to care for the umbilical cord stump. The area should be cleaned once or twice a day to ensure infections don't set in. Simply use a cotton ball or gauze and run it under some warm water. Gently wipe the area. Then take a second dry cotton ball or piece of gauze and dry the area. It's very important not to leave this area wet. If you notice any unusual redness, swelling, bleeding or pus, report it to your physician as soon as possible.
4 Attempt The Baby's First Haircut Solo
Not many newborns are in need of a haircut but if your newborn is, you need to make sure you assemble a team. Or, at least enlist one other person to give you a hand. Even though newborns are small, they are squirmy. The last thing you want to do is injure your little one during a hair cut gone wrong. Ask your hair cutting teammate to hold the baby on his/her lap. You may also want to put on the TV or something else to help distract your little one. Begin by stroking your baby's head and gently calming her. Start trimming in whichever area needs it the most, in case you're unable to finish the whole cut. Don't pull the hair - just hold it gently between your fingers and snip small sections at a time.
3 Not Checking The Water's Temperature
Temperatures are a big thing to overcome when you're caring for a newborn. You have to find the right temperature for milk when you're warming it up - not too scalding but not too cold. When you're going outside, you want to make sure your baby isn't too hot or too cold. Generally you put them in one extra layer than what you're wearing. And then there is bath temperature. Most mamas love to run a nice hot bath for themselves. What could be more relaxing than sitting back in a hot bathtub? Nothing. But your baby doesn't feel the same way. You'll want to make sure your bathtub is filled with warm water, not hot. It should be a comfortable temperature for your baby and not shocking. And once the water gets cool, bath time is over and it's time to take baby out.
2 Forgetting To Dry In The Creases
Bathing a baby is a whole process. There are lots to do and remember. And it can be even more difficult if you're a sleep-deprived mama with a squirmy baby who won't stop crying. So it's totally normal to want to do a quick towel dry once you finally get your little one clean and out of the bath. But with little ones, you really want to take your time and make sure they are totally and completely dry. Many newborns have the adorable wrinkly skin that's full of folds and creases. And while it makes them appear very cute, it's also a place for moisture to get stuck. So make sure you take that towel and dry in between all of the folds and creases so your baby doesn't develop a rash or infection.
1 Bathing The Baby Before The Umbilical Cord Falls Off
While your newborn is still rocking their umbilical cord stump, you're off the hook for bathing them. Babies with their stump should not be fully submerged in water. It's very important to keep the umbilical cord stump dry and clean. Infections are easy to come by and could be very dangerous for your little one. So until the cord has fully healed, dried up and fallen off, avoid putting your baby into a basin full of water. Instead, use a sponge or wash cloth to wipe your baby down with water and mild soap, if needed. The stump usually falls off after 1-2 weeks, so it won't be long until you and your little one can enjoy bath time. But until it does fall off, make sure you keep a good eye on it.
Sources: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/pip_hygiene_babies.html; https://www.parents.com/baby/care/bath/baby-hygiene/; https://www.nm.org/conditions-and-care-areas/pediatrics/pediatric-infant-and-newborn-care/hygiene; http://www.hygieneexpert.co.uk/infant-newborn-hygiene.html; https://www.parents.com/baby/care/bath/how-to-groom-baby/