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Baby Care

You will need :
  • Baby bath or washing up bowl
  • Stand or non-slip mat to stand the bath on.
  • Bath thermometer
  • Two Towels
  • Cotton wool bowls
  • Small jug or cup
  • Cooled boiled water
  • Baby bath/shampoo
  • Talc
  • Clean nappy 

What to do

1) Make sure you have everything you need close by so that you can bathe your baby with as little fuss as possible. If you forget something, you won't be able to go and get it. You must never leave your baby unattended in the bath because small babies can drown in just an inch of water.
2) Fill the bath with a few inches of comfortably warm water. Always put the cold water in first and then top it up with hot until it's warm enough. Give the water a good swirl around to avoid the risk of any hot spots.
3) Check the temperature of the water just before you put your baby in. Obviously you don't want to scald your baby but you don't want the water to be too cold either. The water should be about 29(C (85(F) on your bath thermometer. If you haven't got a thermometer you can test the water by dipping your elbow in - if it feels warm and comfortable on the tip of your elbow it should be OK for your baby. Don't use your hands or fingers - they are used to withstanding higher temperatures and what feels comfortable for them will be too hot for your baby.
4) Undress your baby, leaving just the nappy on, and wrap baby in a towel.
5) Wash baby's face and eyes using the cotton wool and cleaned boiled water. Don't use any soap. Wipe from the middle of the baby's face outwards.
6) Hold your baby so their head is over the edge of the bath and gently wash/shampoo the scalp. Make sure that the baby's back and head are supported by placing your arm under the body and your hand behind the neck. Use the jug to rinse and soap/shampoo away. Try to keep the water out of baby's face as much as possible - it can upset them.
7) Unwrap your baby from the towel and at the last possible moment take of the nappy!
8) Gently put your baby in the water. Support your baby's shoulders and neck with one arm and use the other to support their bottom. Hold your baby securely under the armpit. Babies sometimes wriggle and can get quite slippery when covered in soap or bubbles.
9) Wash your baby paying particular attention to the area around the bottom and also the folds of skin around the neck where traces of baby sick can hide. You don't really need a sponge or flannel for a newborn baby - your hands will be enough to clean them.
10) Let your baby play by kicking and splashing and talk to them as much as you can to reassure them. Have a towel ready to wipe away any water that splashes in their face or eyes!
11) When bath time is over lift out your baby and wrap him in a warm towel.
12) 'Pat' dry. Make sure that all the creases and folds of skin are well dried. You can apply talc or baby lotion (not both) now if your want to. Then put on the nappy in the normal way.
Changing Nappies
No one looks forward to changing that first nappy. It looks so fiddly, never mind messy, you'll wonder if you'll ever get the hang of it. Don't despair - it really is just a question of practice. You will soon be able to change your baby anywhere in double quick time and you'll even get used to the smell!

Here's our step-by-step guide to changing a disposable.
You will need: -
  • Cotton wool and cooled boiled water OR baby wipes
  • Barrier cream or petroleum jelly
  • Nappy sack or old carrier bag
  • New nappy
  • Changing mat
  • Towel

1) The first rule is don't panic. The smell of fear is stronger than the smell of poo and your baby will almost certainly get distressed if you are disorganised.
2) Make sure you have everything you need within easy reach. If you dash to the other side of the room for a clean nappy and leave your baby with a bare bum you're asking for trouble.
3) Lay baby down on the changing mat on a safe surface. Use your changing unit, the bed or preferably the floor.
Never leave baby unattended especially if positioned on a raised surface.
4) Undress your baby from the waist down at least. It's a good idea to take off the socks too because babies will be able to dip their heels into the dirty nappy when you open it.
5) Undo tabs on the front of the nappy and fold them back into their original position to avoid getting them stuck on your baby's legs. Many babies, especially boys will wee as soon as the cold air touches their skin so be prepared. It's a good idea to hold to front of the nappy over them for a few seconds after you've opened it just in case.
6) With one hand hold the baby's feet/ankles together and gently lift the bottom clear of the nappy.
7) With the other hand remove the dirty nappy, cleaning as you go if you can, with any 'clean' part of the nappy. Try to clean front to back i.e. away from you, to avoid spreading germs - especially with girls.
8) Put the nappy where the baby cannot reach it!
9) Use wipes/cotton wool to clean any remaining mess remembering to wipe from front to back. Take care to clean all the folds of skin particularly round a boy's scrotum where mess can get trapped.
10) Let the baby kick it's legs without the constraints of a nappy. Remember that a baby knows when you are not protected by its nappy. Have a towel ready for those little unexpected surprises!
11) If you use a barrier cream or petroleum jelly, apply it all around your baby's bottom and genitals.
12) Place a new nappy under baby with the 'tabs-half' under his back. Pull front of nappy up between legs and mould gently around the baby's body.
13) Release the tabs and mould the nappy around the front of the baby. Take care not to pull the nappy too tight. If you are using nappies with 'sticky tabs' rather than the 'Velcro type' make sure that you do not have any grease/cream/lotion on your fingers. If it gets on the tabs they won't stick properly. Fasten the tabs securely.
14) Use the tabs on the old nappy to seal it up and put it in a nappy sack or carrier bag ready to throw away. Make sure you dispose of the nappy in a responsible manner - never flush it down the loo.
15) Wash your hands and psyche yourself for the next one!
Cleaning the Umbilical Cord Stump
After your baby is delivered their umbilical cord will be clamped with forceps and then cut with scissors, a few centimetres away from the belly button. There aren't any nerves in the cord so this won't hurt your baby at all.
The few centimetres of cord that are still attached to your baby make up the stump. This will shrivel up and turn black within a few days and then drop off completely in about a week. Sometimes the cord falls off in pieces rather than at once - if this happens don't worry it's quite common.
Keeping it Clean
It's important to keep the stump clean so that it doesn't get infected. It's normal to see a few spots of blood or even a small discharge after the stump has fallen off. If however, the area around the belly button starts to look red and inflamed and the skin feels hot, you should speak to your midwife of GP in case there's an infection. Don't worry if the stump smells a bit. It should only last for a couple of days.
How to Clean the Stump
There are a number of different ways to clean the cord stump. We are going to explain the most common.

What you will need
  1. Sterilised bowl
  2. Cooled boiled water
  3. Cotton wool
  4. Clean Towel
  5. Changing mat
What to do
  1. Make sure the room is warm enough so that your baby doesn't get cold and upset
  2. Lie your baby on the changing mat and take off enough of his clothes to get to the cord stump
  3. Dip a cotton wool ball in the cooled boiled water and gently wipe the whole area around the stump. Use a new cotton wool ball every time to keep it as clean as possible.
  4. Don't rub or pull at the stump itself. Any of the black stump residue which remains should be left to fall off in it's own time.
  5. Use more cotton wool or the clean towel and thoroughly dry the whole area around the belly button.
  6. Leave the stump exposed to the air as long as you can - it needs to be kept as dry as possible so that it can heal and fall off.

Your midwife may recommend another method of cleaning the stump. She may give you a powder called Ster-Zac that you sprinkle on to the belly button to help dry it out. Alternatively, she may use a surgical alcohol wipe to clean the stump which again, will dry it out. In some cases, you may be advised just to leave the whole area alone until it has fallen off and healed on its own. If you're unsure, ask your midwife.

Anything else
The most important thing is to keep the stump as dry as you can and expose it to the air frequently. It may be a good idea to avoid using plastic pants until the stump has completely healed as they can trap moist air around the belly button area.

Don't rub or irritate the area around the stump. You may find that your baby will be more comfortable if you roll down the waistband of his nappy to keep it away. If you want, you can buy special newborn nappies with a small panel cut out of the front.
If you notice a small swelling around the belly button area you should see your GP. This can be a sign of an umbilical hernia.


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