Motherhood is the most exciting stage of a woman’s life. A healthy and cheerful baby makes it all the more exciting. A newborn requires extra care because he has to still settle in the new world outside the womb.
Important things to take care are:
The umbilical cord usually falls off between 5-10 days. Till the cord falls, it should be cleaned once a day and an antiseptic applied. Avoid a dip bath till the cord falls off. If pus discharge, redness around the cord is noticed consult the doctor. Also consult a doctor if the cord doesn’t fall by two weeks.
A bit of mucus collection is normal and only needs to be wiped with boiled water and cotton wool. A persistently sticky eye with redness indicates conjunctivitis. This needs to be treated with eye drops.
Application of kajal (Kohl) should be avoided in infants because of the risk of injury and infection to the eye.
If the mouth is thickly coated, a soft boiled cloth may be used to clean the mouth. A persistent white curdy coating often indicates a fungal infection (thrush) and requires treatment with anti fungal lotion.
A nose block or a stuffy nose is common and normal in newborns. If the nose is stuffy and bothers the baby, this may be relieved by instillation of normal saline nose drops, made by adding a quarter teaspoon of salt in a cup of previously boiled and cooled water.
Routine cleaning of the ears is not required. Use of an ear bud is not recommended and can be harmful for the newborns.
Use of cotton diapers is advisable. Cotton diapers need to be washed with a simple detergent or soap. Do not add Dettol or other antiseptic solutions.
Disposable diapers are recommended for occasional use as babies using it are at a higher risk of developing urine infection and nappy rashes because they tend to trap the heat and humidity in the nappy area.
Nappy rash creams may be applied to prevent/treat simple nappy rashes. If the rash is severe and spreads to the thighs, it may indicate a fungal infection and require expert consultation.
A baby should be bathed with a mild non-medicated soap. Other skin care products like shampoo, creams and powders are not recommended for a newborn.
Transient reddish rash resembling mosquito bites is common between 2nd to 5th day and need no treatment. However, if the rashes persist then consult a doctor.
The scalp often has a scaly rash resembling dandruff called ‘cradle cap’, which tends to settle in the first few months. If the scales are dense they could be softened by oiling the scalp. In severe cases, special anti-dandruff shampoos are required.