As your baby comes home, you may be wondering and asking about how to clean a newborn. As a new father, boys may be easier to clean and baby girl hygiene may be a concern as wells as a new mother may be concerned about a baby boy’s hygiene.

Not to worry. We will explain newborn baby hygiene from cleaning the umbilical cord, to keeping baby clean between baths and bathing infant.


Important To Remember

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly when handling infant.
  • Don’t reach in baby’s ears or nose cavities. Clean only what you can see outside the cavity.
  • Don’t use adult soaps one baby since they can by drying and irritating to their skin.
  • Don’t use bath seats with newborns that are meant for older babies that can sit up.
  • Never leave baby unattended during bath time and always have everything needed for bath at hands reach.

Umbilical Cordumbilical cord

Along with feeding and sleeping, a baby needs cleaning to be healthy and happy. The days after the hospital are the most crucial. One of the important things new parents could be concerned about is the umbilical cord and we will get into maintaining it.

The umbilical cord needs to be cleaned until it falls off on its own to prevent infection and help the stump fall off and the navel heal.

You can use a damp cloth, cotton swab or pad, or a sponge to gently clean the area surrounding the stump. Your baby’s pediatrician would be able to tell you if you can use alcohol for this, but water should be just fine. Always dry the area after damping and cleaning.

The umbilical cord stump will dry up and shrivel until it falls off on its own which usually happens about one to two weeks after being born. In rare cases, it can take up to eight weeks. Your baby’s pediatrician should be aware of the stump not falling off after 10 days of age.

Another thing your baby’s pediatrician should be aware of is if the area around your baby’s umbilical cord stump becomes red and swollen or oozes puss while or after falling off. It is fine if it bleeds a little like a scab.

There is no nerve ending at the stump, so your baby is not being hurt if the stump gets moved or is rubbing on his her clothes. It is encouraged to let the navel air out as it heals after the stump has fallen off as opposed to keeping it covered the whole time. Remember, some babies are born with innies and others with outies. Do not try to force a navel to change as it will not happen and may irritate the area.

You should sponge bathe or use damp cloths to clean your baby before the stump falls off. You can bathe your baby in a tub or sink after it has fallen off. Clean belly button gently with water and soap without forgetting to dry.

Clean the belly button from time to time, between baths, using the same technique as the area surrounding the stump before falling off.

Between Baths

It is important to care for your baby’s hygiene between baths. This will help your baby’s health and his or her comfort, adding to their joy and playfulness.

To clean the face, use a sponge, damp cloth, or cotton swabs or pads as with the umbilical cord area. Gently run it throughout their face and eyes, rinsing and cleaning the cloth or sponge or using different cotton swabs as you go from one part of the face to the other. In the same matter, clean the ears and nose without reaching into the cavities. The mouth can also be cleaned in the same manner wiping the top and lower gums along with tongue in a circular motion. Wipe each gum once and make sure you don’t reach in too far into baby’s throat.

Remember to clean behind the ears, the neck, and under the arms to clean any milk, fluff, and lint that can get trapped and accumulate.

Keep your baby’s hands clean as much as you can. You can do this by using wet wipes making sure you clean each finger as well as between the fingers, specially when playing and snacking.

Nails shouldn’t be cut until after one month of age. They are too brittle and fragile before that. When cutting baby’s nails, use baby nail clippers or scissors with rounded tips. It is best to do this when baby is asleep but can also be done when baby is calm and by holding baby’s hand or foot firmly and talking with a smooth and gentle voice to keep them calm. Do not cut nails too short to avoid infection.

Each time you change an infant’s diaper, you should make sure the baby is thoroughly cleaned. Be Always in alert of getting wet or a bowel movement happening while cleaning your baby’s diaper area.

When a baby boy is uncircumcised, wash scrotum and penis area wiping front to back without pulling his foreskin back to clean. Do not wash a circumcised penis head until it has completely healed.

To clean a baby girl’s vagina area, gently wipe front to back or top to bottom with and down the middle using a wipe. If poo is present, using a damp soft cloth or cotton pad could help. Make sure, using a separate wipe or damp cloth/pad, you wipe each side within her labia.

Be sure you clean and dry between skin folds to prevent irritation, chafing, and infection from damp skin. Also, use lotion or rash cream to prevent diaper rash.

Your baby’s hair will need a soft brush designed for babies. Not all babies have enough hair for a brush so you may not have to worry about this.

Bathingbaby bath

As in the previous section, cleaning your baby will be the same in a bath. Always have everything you will need prepared such as wash clothes, baby towel, baby oil or lotion, diaper, brush, etc.

Some babies love being in the water while others will take time to get used to it. Don’t’ worry. With practice and time, your baby should come to be comfortable in the water. Singing or talking to them may help soothe your baby while bathing.

Some parents like to hold their baby while bathing them. If this is an option you’d like to explore, make sure you can securely hold your baby in one hand as comfortable as possible while your free hand does the washing, wiping, rinsing and so forth.

If you’d like to shower with your baby, it is a good idea to have your partner, spouse or any helping adult, help from outside the shower being that it becomes a difficult task for a wet and slippery person to handle a wet and slippery baby. Be careful when attempting this option.

There are tubs and baby bath ware designed for infants that work well in sinks and in bath tubs. Never allow these baby tubs to fill to a level where baby can be submerged. Never leave baby unattended. Some parents like having their babies covered by the water to their shoulders or neck while others don’t allow any water to build up in these baby tubs.

The water should not be too hot. You can use a baby bath thermometer or use your wrist to feel water temperature. Water should not be hotter than lukewarm.

Introduce the water to baby while talking to them. You may let his feet down into the water or splash a bit of water unto their feet, legs, tummy, or arms, in order for them to feel the water and for you to see how baby reacts.

Once baby is in place, clean baby as described in the previous section. This time use a wash cloth with water and baby soap that will not dry and irritate baby’s skin. You will not clean baby’s nose and ears in bath, but should do so before or after the bath.

Remember to run water around baby every once in a while to not allow them to get cold.

Get baby all washed up. Every part is important. Tilt the head back to get the neck. Raise the arms to get their little armpits. Don’t forget to get between their little fingers and toes. Get their buttocks as well as in between. Clean their skin folds. Gently wash genitals.

Their head can be cleaned with the washcloth or sponge if they have no hair. Use baby soap to clean their hair if any and massage their head to thoroughly clean the hair.

The face should be wiped. Be careful to not let soap gather in their eyes, their nose, ears, or by their mouth. If you are to turn water down their face, do so gently and a small amount at a time as they need to get used to having to close their eyes, control their breathing and have their mouths closed. This can take a while for babies to get used to. You don’t want to spook a baby into fearing baths.

After the bath, dry your baby, and you can continue to apply lotion or oil to moisturize baby’s skin.

Having a toy, a pacifier, or anything to further soothe baby will help baby enjoy their bath time each time as well as their time getting dressed afterwards.

Babies Are Precious

Bonding with your baby is extremely important during bath time. Don’t rush it. Take your time. Let your baby enjoy the bath and quality bonding time with you.

Babies are precious and grow up so quick. Enjoy these times yourself as well.