Published March 24, 2008 by
Most babies come home from the hospital with remnants of the umbilical cord still attached to the belly button, or the umbilicus. Until this falls off give your baby only sponge baths. Clean the navel area twice a day or so with a cotton swab dipped in antiseptic. Do this gently but thoroughly, making sure to get to the base of the cord stump. Watch for yellow matter, a sort of “weeping” that may develop, and for redness. These are signs of possible infection-notify your doctor if they persist. Keeping the top edges of the baby’s diaper folded down below the navel will help to keep the area dry. When the cord falls off, usually within ten days to two weeks after the baby’s birth, it is not unusual for a few drops of blood to be left on the navel. No bandage, binding, or tape is required. If the umbilicus doesn’t dry up in a few days after the cord comes off, an umbilical granuloma may be present. This is a little nubbin of tissue in the umbilicus at the junction of the old cord and the new skin. Your doctor can remedy the situation easily at the baby’s first checkup. If there is much bleeding or a foul odor coming from the cord, consult your doctor earlier for any special instructions needed.
For a sponge bath, you will need a warm, draft free room, a basin of lukewarm water, and two big towels-one to bathe the baby on, and the other to wrap him in after the bath. If your baby cries when totally undressed, give him a bath in stages, removing only part of the clothing at one time. Many babies love the feeling of being totally naked, though and enjoy waving their arms and legs about freely.
If you received a little baby bath gift basket, you'll likely have been given items such as shampoo or soap. You don’t really need soap for a newborn, some parents don’t use it for several months. If you can’t bring yourself from skipping it altogether, use very little because soap will dry up your baby’s delicate skin. Ordinary scented soap may trigger an allergic reaction, and it will disguise the wonderful “baby smell” that lets everyone in the house know that an infant is present.Infants do not need to be bathed every day. The diaper area is of course, cleaned frequently, and two or three full baths a week are sufficient.
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