Daily Care - From birth onwards
The first poo your baby will have is greenish-black sticky ‘meconium’. Even though baby has eaten nothing, in the womb the child swallows amniotic fluid containing waste and cells, processed internally together with the outer layers of bowel cells. There’s also mucus, bile and blood, creating a mixture which you’ll find very pungent! For early nappy changes you can easily remove the sticky stuff from bottom and legs (and your own fingers) with a nourishing natural oil on a cotton ball. Continue to do this at every change until there is no more meconium.
Shortly after your baby is born, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. Neither you nor your baby will feel anything when this happens, as there are no nerves in the cord. Where the cord joins your newborn's tummy, there’ll be a 2cm to 3cm-long stump which needs to be kept clean and free from infection until it falls off. That will happen any time between five days and 15 days after birth.
You can keep the stump clean by giving your baby a bath, or topping and tailing him with a warm, moist flannel or sponge. Use plain water or add a mild, liquid baby cleanser. Getting the stump wet won't slow up healing or make an infection more likely, as long as you dry the cord afterwards by gently patting with a soft, clean towel. Keep your baby warm, but let the stump dry fully before putting on a nappy. Fold down the top of your baby’s nappy to allow air to get at the stump and to avoid friction irritating the wound – some newborn nappies have a cut-out on the front for just that reason. You don’t need to use an antiseptic on the stump as that can mean the stump takes longer to fall off. Just keeping it clean will be enough.
Nappy rash is a constant hazard, unsurprisingly because of the harsh conditions around that area. When the nappy is wet, urine can scald, skin which may already be a little irritated, and that’s how nappy rash arises. Use a skin balm with natural lanolin and zinc oxide at every change and apply it thickly to make a protective layer between the skin and damp. If the rash persists, 10 minutes exposed to the open air at each change helps the skin to heal.
Daily washing – During the first months baby skin tends to be only lightly soiled, without sweat or exposure to outside dirt. Bottom and legs get dirty from nappies, but the question is often asked, how should a baby have a bath? Bathing too frequently is unhealthy and can damage the protective layer of skin. In addition, it uses up baby’s energy rebuilding natural reserves after the bath. A regular weekly bathtime is better than a daily bath.
For the daily wash keep baby at least partially covered and warm. Cleanse the face gently with a damp washcloth in clean water and add a little mild, gentle skin cleanser to the water before you do the rest of the body. Don’t forget skin folds and creases, and use natural oil if the legs need extra cleaning. Pat baby dry with an absorbent cloth or soft towel, paying attention to skin folds.
Massage your baby
Babies with dry skin will especially benefit from a warming massage using natural oil that nourishes the skin intensively and enfolds them in warmth. Most babies enjoy being stroked and rubbed, and after a bedtime wash the massage can help them sleep peacefully. During a massage, make sure baby’s skin isn’t exposed for too long, covering them with a warm towel.
For a soothing body stroke, you can also use moisturising baby lotion to protect the skin from drying – this will have a cooling effect, as opposed to the oil which has a warming effect. If you notice especially dry patches of skin, such as the elbows or knees, you can even use a richer cream to nourish the skin intensively.
Take care of baby’s face
The most exposed part of the body, your baby's face will benefit from using a mild, moisturising cream tailored to the facial skin. Babies who are often outdoors might show some rough spots or chaps on their cheeks, as the delicate skin tries to cope with harsh, cold or windy weather. In this case, a water-free protective balm with beeswax and lanolin will prevent dryness and keep the skin soft and velvety.
Brush baby's teeth
It's a good idea to start immediately on regular tooth brushing as the first teeth appear. Clean the teeth twice a day using a soft child's toothbrush and a toothpaste without fluoride, so it does no harm if a little gets swallowed. Once your child grows, he will want to brush his teeth himself, copying you. Make sure you complete the task carefully, as however hard he tries, in early days it won’t be an adequate clean.