Daily care from birth onwards
First nappyThe 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.
Cord careShortly 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.
Daily washingDuring 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.