Normal Newborn Skin Care



You can bathe your baby daily if you would like, especially in warm weather. Keep the water level below the navel or give sponge baths until a few days after the cord has fallen off. Submerging the cord could cause infection or interfere with its drying out and falling off. Getting it a little wet doesn’t matter. Use tap water without any soap or a nondrying soap such as Cetaphil. Don’t forget to wash the face; otherwise, chemicals from milk or various foods build up and cause an irritated rash. Also, rinse off the eyelids with water.

Don’t forget to wash the genital area. However, when you wash the inside of the female genital area (the vulva), never use soap. Rinse the area with plain water and wipe from front to back to prevent irritation. This practice and the avoidance of any bubble baths before puberty may prevent many urinary tract infections and vaginal irritations. At the end of the bath, rinse your baby well; soap residue can be irritating. If you like, you can use a hypoallergenic lotion such as Cetaphil lotion to keep your baby’s skin soft. Avoid scented products as these can irritate the skin even though they smell wonderful.

Changing Diapers

After wet diapers are removed, just rinse your baby’s bottom off with a wet washcloth or a diaper wipe. After removing soiled diapers, rinse the bottom under running warm water or in a basin of warm water if your baby tends to get diaper rash. After you finish the rear area, cleanse the genital area by wiping front to back with a wet cloth. In boys, carefully clean the scrotum; in girls, the creases of the vaginal lips (labia).


Wash your baby’s hair once or twice weekly with a special baby shampoo that doesn’t sting the eyes. Don’t be concerned about hurting the anterior fontanel (soft spot). It is well protected.

Lotions, Creams, And Ointments

Newborn skin normally does not require any ointments or creams. Especially avoid the application of any oil, ointment, or greasy substance, since this will almost always block the small sweat glands and lead to pimples or a heat rash. If the skin starts to become dry and cracked, use a hypoallergenic lotion such as Cetaphil twice daily. Cornstarch powder can be helpful for preventing rashes in areas of friction. Avoid talcum powder because it can cause a serious chemical pneumonia if inhaled into the lungs.

Umbilical Cord

Try to keep the cord dry. Apply rubbing alcohol to the base of the cord (where it attaches to the skin) twice each day (including after the bath) until one
week after it falls off. Air exposure also helps with drying and separation; keep the diaper folded down below the cord area or use a scissors to cut away a wedge of the diaper in front.

Fingernails And Toenails

Cut the toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails, but round off the corners of the fingernails to prevent unintentional scratches to your baby and others. Trim them weekly after a bath when the nails are softened. Use clippers or special baby scissors. This job usually takes two people unless you do it while your child is asleep. Don’t fret if you accidentally nip the fingertip; almost every parent I know has done this and feels terrible!