The best way to keep your baby happy and healthy is to practise good hygiene. It comes out naturally to protect our baby from germs which urges us to great lengths to do so. And for doing so, we sterilize our baby's feeding bottle, use anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners, everything that can bar germs from our baby's world. But still, a number of babies suffer from different allergies. Reason? Without being in contact with germs, your baby's immune system will not function properly. Although breast milk provides protection through the antibodies passed on, but at times, the bacteria wins out and the baby gets infected to an illness. However, this does not stop us from providing basic hygiene to our baby.
Apart from a nightly bath, there's more to keeping your baby clean and well groomed. Their fingernails need constant trimming, their hands should be washed regularly and hair definitely needs a frequent cut. And as your baby grows older, cleaning their gums and later brushing their teeth is an excellent start to teach your baby the hygiene rituals. To prevent from the hassle emerging at a later stage, it is best to start at an early age. For example, if you start cleaning your baby's ears right from the time they are newborn, by the time they are 18 months old, they will be habitual to it and won't mind getting it done. This chapter deals with the various parameters of cleanliness of a baby such as nails, body odour, genitals, oral hygiene, brushing teeth, cleaning eyes, ears and tongue, and caring for the belly button.
A baby with a beep
1. Baby Genital Care
Being parents can be a euphoric feeling! But tending to the needs and wants of your little one may not be that easy, to begin with, especially for new parents. Babies are unpredictable and vulnerable too. Only timely care and proper tending will ensure that your babies stay happy and healthy. One of the most significant aspects of baby care is attending to their genitals. Baby genitals are tender and exposed and it is only good if you keep it clean. Genital care differs for girls and boys. While attending to these delicate parts of your baby, always make sure to wash the area with mild soap and water and check regularly for rashes, bleeding or pus filled boils. Genital care is mandatory for good health. Follow these tips to minimise your worries for your tiny toddlers.
Tip for Genital Care
Check your baby's diaper often and see if it is soiled from bowel movements. Clean the genital area thoroughly with wet cloth and diluted soap. You may buy disposable diapers or cloth diapers for your babies. This will cause more hygiene and comfort for your little ones.
Keeping your baby clean
Always wipe from front to back for baby girls and wipe under the genitals for boys. Also, take care to clean the buttocks and fat creases under the thighs of your child. Apply baby lotion in case of skin rashes. Maintaining regular hygiene is the key to care for your baby's genital area.
Baby boys can suffer from circumcised or uncircumcised genital problems that need your special attention. In case of circumcised genitals, keep the area clean. Bathe the area every day with warm water and use a gentle baby cleanser to clean it.
In case of uncircumcised genitals, wash the area with warm water and baby wash. Do not use any cotton swabs, cotton balls, astringents, or other harsh detergents on your baby. Keep the tip of the penis clean. Avoid pulling the foreskin back while cleaning. Gently hold the foreskin against the tip of the penis and wash it.
It is never good to keep your babies on soiled diapers for longer periods. If your baby pees or poops at night, do take care to attend to it immediately. Properly clean and dry the area before putting on a new diaper.
2. Body Odour in Babies
Body odour is one of the most common problems in any individual; they can be kids, adults or even your little angels. It's a matter of wonder that even these little ones have problems like body odours. Although babies do not have a bad body odour, it is important enough to take notice of it and know the why's and how's of it. Generally, babies may have two kinds of body odours, one can be the milky odour and the other can be urine odour. Babies may also have occasional body odours like a sour smell, when they have split up or have sweated and there is dirt trapped around them. Even babies with thicker and shorter necks may face this problem more frequently, because dirt gets stuck on the neck and results in odour. Sometimes underarms are also affected by body odour, because it's one of the main areas to sweat and if it's more than normal, it can lead to bad irritation and even redness of the skin. In this situation, a baby skin specialist ought to be consulted for cures. Read on to know about the causes of body odour and the precautionary measures to avoid them.
Causes for Body Odour in Babies
Here are some of the major causes that may lead to body odour in your little one.
Dirt and dust
Heat and pollution
Body odours in babies can be very problematic and also affect the mood of the baby. His/her unpleasant smell can lead to long periods of crying! Read on to know more about the remedies to body odour.
Soft touch baby powders are available in the market and can be used to prevent the general body odours due to perspiration and can reduce sweat and resulting odours.
Fragrant Baby Wipes
Baby wipes have a sweet fragrant smell and after babies feed, can be used to wipe their mouths and other parts, which they playfully make dirty leaving a nice fragrance around them.
Rosemary is a light herb and can be used with massaging oil of your babies, making them smell pleasant.
Clothing is an area many people overlook. Loosely fitting clothes allow the body to breathe better than tight clothes. The perspiration escapes and doesn't become a breeding ground for bacteria. The type of fabric is also very important. Synthetic fabrics don't allow the body to breathe, so use only natural fabrics for babies.
Mother changing baby's clothes
3. Caring For Baby's Belly Button
Babies are just the perfect addition to your happy family. However, taking care of your little bundle of joy needs a whole lot of effort and a great level of awareness. New parents are often clueless and almost easily intimidated on how to attend to the personal, delicate, and little known body parts of their newborn. With little idea and loads of apprehensions, anxious parents often go to great lengths to make sure that their little ones get a hygienic upbringing. However, basic hygienic care may not be sufficient for your baby. What you really need to understand is that apart from the basic precautions of sterilizing your baby's bottle and using anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners, there are some other important things that you need to take care of. Baby's belly-button or navel care is one important aspect of your child care that should not be neglected. The navel is a delicate part of your child's body and after birth; care should be taken to ensure that the umbilical stump dries and falls off naturally. Baby belly buttons are susceptible to infections and other complications like blood emission, discharge of white smelly fluid, among other things.
Tips for Baby's Belly Button Care
You baby's belly button is something very special; it's that one thing that connects the baby to you and serves as a source of nourishment, while the baby is still inside you. However once the cord is snipped after the baby's birth, it is important to take care of the leftover part of the cord to protect it from infection and help it dry well.
It is sensible to allow your baby's belly button heal naturally by always keeping it dry and clean as possible.
Baby's clamped belly button
Always wash your hands before attending to your baby's cord. Unwashed hands can be potential carriers of harmful germs.
Until the stump dries and falls off, it is advisable to keep the baby's diaper off her belly button and avoid anything from rubbing against it. Each time you put on a new diaper, fold the nappy at the top to ensure that there are no skin abrasions. Also, roll up the dress to allow free circulation of air.
It is essential to keep the cord dry until it has fallen off. You can avoid giving a full bath to your baby or be careful not to drench the cord while bathing before the stump has fallen off and the area is healed.
It is advisable to clean your baby's belly button area, at least once a day. To clean the cord gently use a cotton tip applicator dipped in cooled, boiled water and softly pat the area. This will help the cord to dry off fast and reduce any risk of infection. Repeat the process for a week after the stump has fallen off.
Do not forget to dry the area with a cotton swab after cleaning it. Also avoid using cotton balls as fibers from it can get stuck to the cord and cause complications.
Never use lotion, oil or powders on or around your baby's cord.
After 1-3 weeks, the cord will dry and fall off naturally. However, if there is recurrent bleeding or infection, or abnormality of any kind, please consult your pediatrician.
When falling off, it is sometimes normal for the stump to bleed and this should not make the parents anxious. It might take 5 to 10 days for the area to heal after the stump has fallen off. No special care is needed after this.
If baby's belly button gives off a fluid which is thick and smelly.
If the belly button releases any bad odour.
Baby's normal belly button
If the skin around the belly button area is inflamed.
If your baby has got fever.
4. Cleaning Baby's Eyes
Eyes are said to be the mirror to the soul. In the case of babies, their eyes truly mirror what they are inside – innocent and pure. Their eyes gaze out in wonder at the colourful new world around them. These precious organs need proper care and good hygiene. It does not take much effort to clean your baby's eyes. All that is needed is a regular cleaning routine and periodical clinical check of your baby's eyes. Clinical experiences and research have shown that at six months, the average child has reached the critical development milestone, making it the age for the first medical assistance. Visual abilities are fully working by the age of six months. So at this age, no risk should be taken with regard to the baby's eyes and it should be cleaned and examined at regular intervals.
Tips to Clean Baby's Eyes
Wash your hands properly with soap before going to deal with the baby.
Dip a clean, soft baby washcloth or cotton ball into warm water and squeeze it to remove any excess water.
Baby's skin is very sensitive, so avoid using soap or any other face wash on the face.
Sing or talk to the baby while cleaning to distract his/her attention, so that you don't face any difficulty while cleaning.
Cleaning baby's eyes
Use the cloth or cotton ball to clean the corners of your baby's eyes, wiping gently from the inside corner to the outside edge of each eye.
Use a different clean, moist cotton ball for each eye to avoid potential cross-infection.
Some babies don't like their eyes to be cleaned, make sure the water is comfortably warm. Clean quickly and move it.
If your child has an infection, it will clear up quickly with regular cleaning of eyes.
While cleaning a sore or infected eyes, make sure that you use clean cotton balls and that you use them only once. Wipe from the inside to the outside. Use a separate cleaning ball, if you need to continue cleaning the same eye.
Do not clean inside the eyelids; wipe the eyes only when it is closed. You may risk damaging the cornea if you try to clean inside the eyelid.
Use warm and not hot water. Be firm while cleaning to ensure you dislodge any sticky discharge or pus.
Ensure that your baby takes a well balanced diet. A diet rich in proteins, vitamins is very essential for a baby's eyes.
Regular medical examination by your pediatrician or an eye doctor is very important.
Some babies are born with blocked tear ducts. It causes tears to form in eyes and roll down the cheeks. Blocked tear ducts should be evaluated by a pediatrician, as it may require treatment if any infection develops.
5. Cleaning Baby's Nose
Babies commonly have clogged and dirty noses, especially due to the lack the ability to clean themselves the way adults do. This can be rather harmful to the child with regard to hygiene and health care. Babies with stuffy noses suffer from difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, difficulty sleeping and infections, just to name a few. The responsibility to clean your baby's nose frequently and properly lies with you, the parent. While there are some who might find it cumbersome to keep cleaning the baby's nose, remember that your baby depends on you. If you fail your baby on the hygiene care front, you will be harming your child much more than you can imagine. Health and hygiene are as important for babies as they are for adults. Therefore, you will need to take extra care for ensuring that every part of your baby is kept clean. A clean baby is a healthy baby. A healthy baby is a happy baby. While it might seem a cumbersome and complicated task to clean a restless baby's nose, the task is not as tough as you might think.
Tips to Clean the Baby's Nose
Use a vaporiser to moisten your baby's nasal mucus, vaporizer can be kept near the crib to avail it fully and make sure you do not put very hot water in it as it can burn the nose itself. Clean the vaporizers properly before the next use so that it is germ free.
You can also go for nose drops if the mucus is too thick and can't come out easily. Nose drops contain a saline solution and it is available at any medical store. It will loosen the mucus and make it flow outwards with the help of a handkerchief.
Usually babies can get rid of stuffy noses over a period of one or two weeks, but if still they are stuck with the same problem, it can become difficult to manage. In this case, you can go for an alternative solution by getting a rubber suction bulb. To use the bulb, gently stick the rubber bulb in a nostril and release the bulb. In this way, the bulb will suck out all the mucus from the baby's nose. You can use the same bulb for the other nostril and flush out the mucus into the sink, wash it and then repeat the same process.
Another simple way to clean your baby's nose is to apply some balm on the nose and neck area. Also, rub a small amount of balm on the foot and cover it with socks. In the morning, the blocked mucus will come out in the form of running nose.
Cleaning baby's nose
6. Cleaning Baby's Tongue
It's not as easy to clean the tongue of a baby as it may sound – after all babies make a big hue and cry for even thing smallest thing that seems to trouble them. Some parents might want to make babies laugh and clean the tongue with a finger. However, your playful baby might bite your finger and nothing will come out of the attempt. Even if you try to use the back of a toothbrush, your baby will begin to feel nauseated. Therefore, it is very vital to know how to clean your baby's tongue effectively, so that she/he doesn't have any oral hygiene issues to be faced in future. In case you are not giving much attention to tongue cleaning and focussing only on the gums and teeth, it can prove detrimental to your baby's overall oral hygiene and care. The baby's mouth can give a bad nauseating smell which can become permanent over a period of time and accumulation of germs and bacteria can produce plaque and oral problems in future.
Tips for Cleaning Baby's Tongue
Take a clean soft cotton cloth and pour some warm water on it, make sure the water is not too hot as it will irritate baby's tongue and make it hard to eat or take any other thing into mouth.
Encourage your baby to open his/her mouth by lowering the tip of lips, while you hold him/her.
Now, wrap the wet cloth in your index finger and take it into the mouth and start rubbing the tongue gently in circular motions to clear the build-up.
In some babies, tongue particles stick into it very badly. In this case, apply pea sized toothpaste on the tongue and rub it with a cloth to remove the solidified particles.
Make sure you wash baby's mouth properly, so that toothpaste doesn't remain in the mouth and your little ones don't swallow it.
When you clean the tongue remember to clean the gums, cheeks and teeth too, as your baby may not give you a chance to do that again.
Some babies may not get their tongues cleaned properly by this process. In that case, you need to visit a child specialist for oral queries and the doctor will take care of it by giving some treatment.
Cleaning baby's tongue
7. Cleaning Baby's Ears
Nothing can be more daunting for a mother than having to deal with those delicate parts of her little one. Understanding your limits and finding the right approach to look after your baby in a way that you find comfortable, is very important. Cleaning the ears of your young ones is something that must never be taken lightly. An old medical saying goes, “Never put anything on your ears smaller than your elbow” and that applies to your child as well. You should use extreme caution while dealing with this aspect of baby care. Most often, ears are neglected and less cared for in regard to other body organs. It is important to realize that ears, like all other body parts, go through same hygienic complications, and extra care must be employed when addressing these problems. Cleaning a baby's ears involves a multi-step process. Here are some pointers on how to clean baby's ears.
Tips for cleaning the Baby's Ears
After bathing your baby with tepid water, you can use a delicate cloth to clean the ears while holding your baby securely by balancing him/her on your hand.
If the ear is dirty, then use a wet cloth to wipe the ears. Do not use soap. You can use the cloth to gently scrub the ears, reaching out for the gap behind the ears, which is one common place for wax buildup.
Damp the cloth again and use it gently to wipe the outer parts of the ears as some babies tend to have buildup in the outer areas as well. The external air contains small folds which can trap dirt. Gently wipe those folds to get rid of excess dirt.
Cleaning baby's ears
Now, twirl the tip of the wet cloth. Squeeze out the extra water, if any. Gently tuck it in the baby's ear and roll it gently. This would remove any debris from the outer ear canals.
Pat the baby's ear with a clean dry cloth.
In case you wish to clean the inner ear of your baby, it is advisable for you to take your baby to the doctor and get it cleaned. Doctor's use special instrumentation to clean your baby's ears that avoids the risk of puncturing or scratching your baby's delicate eardrums.
While cleaning the ears, don't forget to keep your child warm. Drape him/her in a hand towel to prevent him/her from catching cold.
Some babies have more wax buildup than others. If the problem persists, don't forget to consult your pediatrician.
Do not use cotton swabs to clean your baby's ear. Instead of cleaning the wax, they push the debris inside which can cause major harm to their soft eardrums.
Avoid using ear cleaning kit on babies. If there is excessive wax in their ears, get them cleaned only by a pediatrician.
8. Trimming Baby's Nails
Have you come across babies with numerous scratches on their faces? The source of these scratches, in most cases, would not be the family pet, but rather the baby himself! Since babies lack muscle control, flailing of limbs is very common. Uncut or improperly cut nails can cause them to scratch their delicate skin and lead to a whole lot of discomfort for the little one. If you have a little bundle of joy at home, you might find that trimming his/her nails is a virtual nightmare. Clipping the nails of a squirming, inquisitive baby can often be very challenging. You just might end up cutting your baby's delicate skin or cutting the nails in such a way that they might re-grow inside the child's skin. Well, trimming a baby's nails does not have to be such a terrifying experience, after all. If you are equipped with the knowledge of how to trim nails correctly, and if you have the right tools to do so, you will find that cutting your baby's nails is just another pleasant part of baby care.
Tools You Need
Baby Nail Scissors
Nail File/Emery Board
Sterile Gauze Pads
Tips for Trimming Your Baby's Nails
It is best to trim your baby's nails just after you give the baby a bath, so that the nails will be soft. Try to put your baby to sleep. If your baby refuses to sleep, distract him/her with a favourite toy.
Incline the baby's nail and gently press the finger or toe pad away from the nail, so that you will not clip the skin in the process.
Trim the nails along the curve of the finger. In the case of toenails, cut the nails straight across. If you are hesitant about clipping your baby's nails, you can choose to file them instead. This will rule out the chances of accidental cuts.
Ensure that while you trim the baby's nails, there are no rough edges. Use an emery board or a filer to smooth out any rough edges.
If your baby is overactive, get someone to hold him/her, while clipping the nails. After all, you would want to minimise the chances of hurting your baby as much as you can.
If you happen to accidently clip a bit of the baby's skin, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Once the bleeding stops use sterile gauze pad to dab some mild antiseptic onto the cut.
Never bite your baby's nails instead of trimming them. While this might reduce the chances of accidently cutting the baby's skin, you just might be encouraging the spread of germs.
Trimming your baby's nails
9. Baby's Oral Hygiene
A baby's oral hygiene is a very important part of his/her overall hygiene. As parents, your apprehension over your baby's oral health is likely. Ensuring healthy oral habits in babies should be done at the stage of infancy to help teeth grow faster with healthy gums. Concerns about oral health care pop up, for the most parents, when the first tooth erupts. With the occurrence of the first teeth, you should become very careful about maintaining your baby's oral hygiene. Oral health complications in your baby may be due to a host of common problems like tooth decay, thumb sucking, lip sucking tongue thrusting, and early tooth loss. Although a baby's teeth are sooner or later replaced with permanent teeth, you must observe the necessary oral hygiene so that oral problems are kept at an arm's distance of your baby.
Oral hygiene of your baby
Tips for Baby's Oral Hygiene
When you feed your baby, do not forget to wipe his/her mouth and gums with a wet cotton cloth. If your baby has already begun teething, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the teeth. This will help eliminate any bacteria-forming plaque and excess sugar that have built up on the teeth and gums.
There are times when brown or white spots may appear on your baby's gums. Make a habit to check your child's mouth regularly. Also, keep a tab on the formation of any smelly tartar collection in their mouth.
See a dentist if your baby suffers from persistent bad teeth odour. Timely medical advice will help and reduce any further chances of tooth decay.
If your baby is extremely fond of sweetened milk or cerelac, try cutting down on sugar content and avoid creating sweet pools in the mouth of your tiny tots.
Make sure you thoroughly clean your baby's milk bottles and the pacifier with hot water and sterilize it with water for some time to remove germs from entering the mouth.
If your little ones are teething, they would want to chew something to relieve the pressure. In order to maintain good oral health, give them teethers and toys made of nontoxic materials and specially designed for teething babies. Some are made of firm rubber; others are filled with water and chilled in the refrigerator. Don't freeze these types of rings or teethers, because they become too hard and may harm your baby's gums.
10. Brushing Baby's Teeth
Proper oral care and hygiene starts from the very first time your baby begins to drink milk and you clean his/her gums with a damp cotton cloth to remove milk residues from the gums. It is very important to induce these habits in your babies as they will become used to them over time. When teeth erupts into the mouth, you should start cleaning the baby's teeth twice in a day, because bacteria occurs in mouth naturally and tend to convert sugars in food into acid, which can attack the tooth enamel. Brushing the teeth from an early age is important as the primary baby teeth are responsible for making spaces for permanent teeth to grow afterwards and even your baby needs primary teeth for speaking correctly, chewing and biting. Choosing a small brush having soft bristle with a small head is as important as it is to confirm the quality of the brush because if your baby bites on it, he/she may swallow some bristles too!
Brushing baby's teeth
Tips to Brush Baby's Teeth
Make the baby to open the mouth a bit wide, may be you have to act so to make him/her imitate you. Make the baby sit on a slab to help you fully reach all the portions of the mouth.
Gently brush his/her teeth with a small headed toothbrush containing pea-sized less fluoride content paste as your babies may swallow it at times. In case he/she swallows the paste, make them drink a glass of water to dilute it, repeat it before he/she goes to bed at night.
Remember to wash the mouth of your baby with lukewarm water and make him/her spit out the water 4 or 5 times.
Preventing Dental Caries
You can find a white spot on the front teeth, which is termed as lesion. It is a white chalky area close to the gum line. It develops as a result of bacterial action which produces acid. It affects the enamel of the tooth. One can induce good oral habits to prevent it and seek dentist's opinion. Fluoride can solve the problem if it is diagnosed long before.
A golden white cavity like structure can be found in the inner most teeth and it is very important to get it cured by a child dental specialist as soon as possible, because it may hamper the growth of permanent teeth and may infect other teeth as well.
Bad breath can be another indication for tooth decays. In such a condition, sweetened liquid diet should be avoided for some time and proper brushing should be done regularly.
Q-1. What is wet eye?
Ans. In some babies there is an inborn narrowing or obstruction of the tear passage, tear gland from which tears normally flow. In such cases, the eyes of the baby look constantly wet or full of tears. In severe cases, the skin around the eyelids may become red and cracked. This problem can be managed by doing a light massage over the inner angle of the eye near its junction with the nose three or four times a day. Clean the eyelids frequently with warm water. Normally, this problem settles down within a few weeks. If it persists then blocked duct may be opened by a small surgical process.
Q-2. My baby has large bluish spot on his shoulder. What should I do?
Ans. Some babies have quite large bluish patches of skin discolouration. These areas of pigmentation are called ‘mongolian spots’. They require no treatment and disappear on their own with time.
Q-3. My baby is about a month old. She has lost all her hair at the back of her head. What should I do?
Ans. There is nothing to worry about. It is common with small babies. This hair will grow back with time.
Q-4. My daughter has hair all over her body. My mother-in-law wants me to rub them vigorously with bran and oil. But this rubbing brings rashes on her skin. What should I do? I am really worried.
Ans. The skin of babies is very soft and sensitive. Do no such thing like vigorously rubbing it with harsh things. Just give her a simple light oil massage. Do not worry about these hair. They will go away with time.
Q-5. My baby has four front teeth. Whenever I try to brush them with paste, she swallows the paste. I am worried that this will affect her health. How do I keep her teeth clean?
Ans. Do not use paste till the time your baby is old enough to understand the correct process of brushing the teeth. Take a soft cloth, wet with clean water and wipe your baby's teeth with it each time you feed her. This way her teeth will remain clean and she will not swallow the paste either.
Q-6. My daughter drinks milk from the bottle and most often she goes off to sleep with bottle in her mouth. I am worried that she might develop cavities in her teeth because of sugar in the milk which remains in her mouth throughout the night. I can't clean her teeth because then she wakes up and demands bottle again. What should I do?
Ans. Keep a bottle with plain water handy. Give her this bottle for a while so that the water from the bottle may rinse her mouth and she does not develop cavities. Remember, it is important to take care of your child's teeth right from the start.