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Routine Care Of Newborn Babies and Infants
June 7, 2012 by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu
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Routine Care Of Newborn Babies and Infants

The seemingly interminable wait of nine months is over and your bundle of joy has indeed arrived! Now is the time for knowing the correct principles of caring for your newborn baby.

Follow the following guidelines.

  • Relax and enjoy the parenthood.
    Don’t burden yourself with worry and anxiety by needlessly trying to find out something ‘abnormal’! (Read ‘When Abnormal is normal in newborn baby’!)
  • Skin Care:
    Oil massage is okay if there is no skin reaction like redness or rash afterwards. Plain olive oil or coconut oil is as good as any more expensive baby oil.

    Give daily bath with pleasantly warm water. Use a baby-soap or a glycerin-soap.Dry the baby immediately.

    Regularly apply fragrance-free moisturizing baby lotion.

    Don’t apply ‘besan’ (Chick-pea flour) in the hope of making the baby fairer! Besan doesn’t make the skin fairer nor does it remove the facial and body hair.  

    Do not use talcum/baby powder as the particles may go into lungs causing problems. 
  • Hair Care:
    Use a mild baby shampoo. For cradle cap, apply a layer of oil on the patch for about half an hour prior to shampooing it off.
  • Umbilical Care:
    Properly clean the umbilicus with a spirit swab till the cord falls off and the area becomes dry. If there is any redness, discharge or foul smell, show it to the doctor and start applying an antiseptic powder or ointment.
  • Eye Care:
    If there is any eye discharge, then wipe it with warm water and then put antibiotic eye drops/ointment according to doctor’s prescription.
  • Feeding:
    Breast feeding is best feeding and it should be the first and only type of feeding whenever possible.

    Bottle feeding is a compromise and its pitfalls need to be understood before starting that.

    The schedule of feeds should be semi-demand schedule- that is to regularly offer the feeds around every two-to-three hours when the baby is awake and to give additional feeds if the baby demands them in between the regular scheduled feeds.
  • Bowel/Bladder Care:
    The frequency of stools in a newborn baby may vary from none to 10-12 per day.

    The iinitial baby-stools are dark black (Meconium). Later they become greenish and then yellowish with curd-like consistency.

    There may be day-to-day variations in colour, consistency and number and if the baby is otherwise active and feeding well, then such changes shouldn’t worry you.

    Similarly passing stools after a gap of three- four days is also normal if the stool consistency is soft and the baby is not showing any discomfort, vomiting or abdominal distension.

    A well-fed baby will usually pass light yellow or watery urine 6-8 times in a day.
  • Nappy Care
    Regularly change nappies. Change after every soiling (urine/stool) and every three hours.

    Wipe the soiled nappy area with plain water or water-soaked cotton swab. Do not use the readymade baby-wipes regularly as they tend to irritate the skin. 

    Apply a protective barrier cream (Zinc or petroleum jelly based)  to the nappy area after cleaning and pat-drying.
  • Temperature control:
    Maintain a comfortable ambient temperature (20-22 *C) and cover the baby adequately. Usually for a normal newborn, one can almost follow the adult temperature comfort level to decide the room temperature and clothing.
  • Sleep:
    The average sleeping time is around 18-20 hours in this period but it may vary from baby to baby. Expect that baby might stay awake during nights and sleep throughout days. Be prepared for sleepless nights but look at their brighter side!
  • Clothes:
    Use preferably pull-down type of cotton clothes without beads, buttons or knots. Wrapping in a sheet is a popular Indian way and the babies usually enjoy that. But beware of the fact that in warm weathers, this wrapping practice can lead to excessive sweating and dehydration.
  • Symptoms
    Symptoms ike occasional regurgitation of milk, noisy breathing (because of small size of airways), snoring, sneezing and warm forehead are harmless.
  • Consult a doctor:
    Consult your doctor when there is a disconcerting symptom like lethargy, refusal to feed, poor sucking, fever, cough, breathing difficulty, bluish discoloration of tongue or lips, discharge from eyes/ears/umbilicus.
  • Regular Follow-ups: 
    To check the baby’s growth, development, feeding pattern, vaccination and any other symptom.

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