Newborn Care

Care of the Cord

The cord falls off at variable lengths of time, usually 1 to 2 weeks. When the cord separates, there is often a small amount of bleeding which is of no consequence. The navel should dry up within a week after the cord falls off.

Care of the Circumcision

If a Plastibell has been used, a plastic rim will be attached at the time you take the baby home. This falls off at 5 to 6 days after circumcision. If another method is used, there will be a slight redness for several days. Squeeze soapy water followed by clear water over the penis to clean it.


Do not bathe the baby until the cord is healed and in the case of circumcised boys, the cicumcision is healed. Simply sponge bathe your infant on top of a counter using warm water and a cloth with a mild soap such as Ivory or Johnson’s Baby Soap. Wash the face gently. The scalp should be washed every 2-3 days to prevent cradle cap. Do not be afraid to wash over the soft spot. Baby’s breast enlargement is common for the first few weeks; however, do not rub or squeeze the enlarged breasts.

With baby boys who are not circumcised, after the first two week pull the foreskin back as part of the bath.

With baby girls, wash and dry from the front to the back toward the rectum. During the first few weeks a slightly blood tinged vaginal discharge may be present.

After the bath, you may wish to use lotion to keep the skin soft (Johnson’s, for example). Powder is generally not helpful and should be kept away from the baby’s mouth and nose where it might be inhaled.

Q-tips can be used to cleanse the folds of the genitalia in girls and dry the folds of the ears. Do NOT push Q-tips into the ear canal. Nails should be trimmed straight across with cuticle scissors.

Baby’s Room

Keep the house at a comfortable 70 to 75 degrees for the first few weeks. Then the night temperature may be lowered. If at all possible, the baby should have a separate room and certainly should have a separate bed. Keep the baby’s sheets drawn tight and do not use a pillow.

Baby’s Clothing

Do not overdress your baby, particularly in the summer. The baby needs to be dressed in the same thickness clothing that you wear.

Auto and Bicycle Safety

Prevent the number one cause of death in children. Get a car seat and use it always. Children must remain facing rearward, in the back seat, until they are at least two years old. All children should remain in car seats until they weigh approximately 80 lbs. Everyone should wear seatbelts. Please be aware that you are also required to obey all safety seat laws for states through which you are driving. Visit for more information.

Children and parents should wear bicycle helmets.

Smoking and Your Baby

Smoking has been demonstrated conclusively to be detrimental to all those exposed and may be especially difficult for infants and young children to tolerate. These children suffer many more upper respiratory infections and may be prone to ear infections. All smoking should be done outside the home and babysitters should be interviewed regarding smoking habits.