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Bringing Baby Home / Parenting Your New Baby / Bath Time for Baby /
Newborn Skincare
Your top 5 questions answered!
By Brenda S. Broussard, MSN, APRN, CNM, WHNP-BC
Caring for your newborn’s skin can be confusing with so many options and products to choose from.

Most babies enjoy having their skin gently rubbed and massaged. But they don’t come with owner’s manuals recommending how often they should be bathed, slathered and pampered. That’s where we’ve got expert answers to your top newborn skin questions.

What do I do with my baby’s umbilical cord stump?

Your newborn’s umbilical cord will continue to dry out and will fall off anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks post-birth. To keep it clean, gently sponge bathe your baby, saving tub baths for after the cord falls off. Gently wash the cord area with soap made for baby skin and water, and pat dry. Watch for signs of infection, such as a foul smell or yellow drainage, redness or tenderness. Call your pediatrician if any of these signs develop.

How often should I bathe my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing your baby no more than 3 times each week to minimize the drying effects of soap. Cleaning his diaper area thoroughly during diaper changes allows you to bathe your baby less frequently.

Is it safe to use baby powders?

Avoid using baby powders that contain fragrances, which can irritate your baby’s skin and don’t use powders containing talc. Otherwise, if you feel you need to put a little powder in the arm and leg creases of your newborn, apply a little to your hand first rather than shaking it over your infant, as this could cause breathing problems.

How do I prevent diaper rash?

Frequent diaper changes are the best way to prevent diaper rash, particularly removing soiled diapers as soon as they occur. Avoid wipes containing alcohol and fragrances, and expose your baby’s bottom to fresh air whenever possible. If your baby starts to develop a bright red rash in the diaper area gently clean his bottom first with water, pat dry, then apply a zinc oxide based barrier cream before diapering.

Are lotions safe for my baby’s skin?

Lotions made for babies can help moisturize your baby’s skin. To prevent irritation, use one that doesn’t have fragrance, which may irritate or cause a rash. When you apply lotion, use this time to massage and interact with your baby. Most babies crave this ritual and closeness with their mom or dad.

Top 4 Tips

  • Avoid baby powders containing talc
  • Don’t shake baby powder on your baby
  • Avoid lotions and wipes with fragrances
  • Don’t bathe your baby every day

Brenda S. Broussard, MSN, APRN-CNM, WHNP-BC, is an instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions in Lafayette, LA.
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