Caring for your baby involves the practical as well as the nutritional and emotional. Here are some basic tips for everyday care.
Some babies have very delicate skin and need changing as soon as they wet themselves, others can wait until before or after a feed to be changed.
Getting organised for nappy–changing
Get everything you need in one place before you start. The best place to change a nappy is on a changing mat or towel on the floor, particularly if you have more than one baby. Sit down to protect your back.
If you are using a changing table, keep an eye on your baby at all times. Do not walk away or turn your back.
Always have a good supply of nappies. Take care to choose the right size of nappy for your baby’s weight.
You will need a supply of either cotton wool and warm water or baby wipes. Keep a spare set of clothes handy, especially in the early days.
Getting started changing a nappy
If your baby is dirty, use the nappy to clean off most of the poo. Then use your preferred choice of cleaning method to remove the rest and get your baby really clean.
Girls should be cleaned from front to back to avoid germs getting into the vagina. There is no need to retract a boy’s foreskin. The same attention to cleansing applies to a wet nappy too.
This is a fun time to chat with your baby. It reinforces bonding and aids development.
Always wash your hands after changing a nappy.
How often should my baby poo?
Some babies fill their nappies around every feed time. Others, especially breast fed babies, can go for several days without a bowel movement. Both are normal. It is also normal for babies to strain or even cry when passing a stool. Your baby is not constipated as long as their stool is soft, even if they have not gone for days.
Washing and bathing your baby
You don’t need to wash your baby every day but you should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day. This is known as ‘topping and tailing’. Choose a time when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm. Get everything ready beforehand.
Babies only need a bath 2 or 3 times a week. Don’t bathe a baby directly after a feed or when they are hungry or tired. You should have everything to hand including 2 towels, baby bath liquid, clean nappy, clean clothes and cotton wool.
The water should be warm not hot. Check it with your wrist or elbow and mix it so there are no hot patches.
Clean their face first, then their hair and then let them fully into the water.
If your baby seems frightened of bathing, take a bath together. It’s easier if someone else holds the baby while you get in and out.
Pat the baby gently dry paying attention to folds and creases.