A baby who has been enjoying the safety of a mother’s womb for nine months has to deal with the risks imposed by a number of pathogens and infective agents in the environment, once it is born into this world. But, a child’s immunity system is not fully developed at this point and it will not be fully capable of fighting diseases at least until five years of age. Therefore, it is really crucial to protect your baby against harmful infections during this vulnerable period of time.
The health and well-being of a baby can be ensured by maintaining proper physical hygiene and cleanliness of the surrounding. Here are some useful tips on keeping your baby clean and healthy.
Clean well from head to toe
Face: Wipe your baby’s face softly with a clean piece of clothing and warm water. Do not rub vigorously. Make sure to cover the neck area too. Using soap, baby powder, and shampoo is not strictly necessary within the first few months.
Eyes: The mucus build up around a baby’s eyes should be carefully cleaned without harming its delicate and sensitive eyes. Use dampened (warm water is better), clean cotton balls, one for each eye separately, and clean from inside towards outside gently.
Hair: Washing your baby’s hair once in two days would be sufficient. No need to wash every day. Use a mild, tearless shampoo and massage the scalp gently to prevent any hair loss. Once the hair is dry, you can use a hair brush with soft bristles or a wide hair comb.
Scalp: Sometimes your baby can get Cradle Cap or infantile seborrheic dermatitis, a condition which results in a dry and scaly scalp. This is not due to poor hygiene or any kind of allergy. You can get rid of this skin condition by gently massaging the scalp of your baby more often and shampooing regularly. You can also rub the scalp with some baby oil and brush smoothly. Sometimes this condition can last for several months. In case of bleeding from the scalp, consult a doctor.
Ears: You should never try cleaning inside the ears of your baby. You should only wipe the outer earlobes very gently using dampened cotton balls.
Gum and Teeth: You should clean the gum of your baby daily using a wet cloth wrapped around your index finger, even before its first tooth makes an appearance. Once, the first tooth erupts you have to use a baby toothbrush and a fluoride free toothpaste for brushing it. It is recommended to visit a dentist within six months of the first tooth’s appearance.
Umbilicus: You have to clean the umbilical remnants of your baby at least once each day until it sheds on its own. This can take about a week or more. Use pieces of cotton wool and warm water to wipe the area gently and remember to discard every piece of cotton wool after a single use. You should repeat this process until any hard scabbed areas are removed or softened. Finally, you can use dry cotton wool to wipe the area dry.
Maintain good hand washing practices
Change the baby’s nappy regularly
Soiled and dirty nappies are filled with harmful germs. So, make sure to change them frequently.
When wiping the bottom, always follow front to back motions.
When disposing, seal them in a bag and place in the outdoor rubbish bin.
Clean your hands well after every nappy change.
Ensure healthy and hygienic feeding habits
Use clean and sterilized feeding and preparing equipment. For sterilizing, methods such as boiling, steaming, and using sterilizing solutions can be followed.
Do not store prepared food or formula milk at room temperature or in the refrigerator for more than 8 hours.
Use only boiled and filtered water for preparing food.
Breast milk can be stored in a sterilized bottle and kept in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.
Keep baby clothes clean
Baby clothes, cot linen, and towels should be cleaned at 40C with a powder or tablet detergent containing active oxygen bleach to kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses.