Looking after the baby’s skin
Taking care of your baby’s little body is of the utmost importance. Babies don’t have the capacity to create their own antibodies until they are at least 2-3 months old, and their immune systems aren’t fully developed until they are around six months old. While your little one’s immune system is incredibly sensitive, protecting a baby from illness and infection is essential.
Here’s some guidance around what to do with some of the issues that might arise.
When the baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped by the doctor or midwife delivering the baby and, in many cases, cut by the partner, the mother or the doctor or midwife. Remember babies can have a bath every day and it is ok to bath with the cord still attached.
Care for the baby’s cord by keeping the stump clean and dry.
A cotton bud dipped in warm water is all that is required to keep the cord clean. When the baby is bathed, and yes the baby can be bathed daily with the cord stump still attached but ensure the cord is dried with a soft face washer after the bath
Eventually, the tissue of the cord dries and becomes like a dark black scab, then separates and commonly some spots of blood may be on the nappy or singlet. If the cord is smelly, if the skin around is red or if there are any pimple-like spots, please check with your doctor or midwife.
A granuloma can form in the stump of the umbilical cord. This has the appearance of a small pink piece of flesh. A doctor can easily treat a granuloma with a small amount of silver nitrate. Don’t worry, there are no nerve endings in the granuloma so there is no pain.
Some people mistake it for conjunctivitis, but a sticky eye on a baby is usually a blocked tear duct.
Cleanse the baby’s eye gently with warm water on a soft cloth starting from the inner corner of the eye. Wipe once and discard the cotton ball. Dry the eye in the same way.
At every nappy change, you can put drops of breast milk in the cleaned eye.
If you remain concerned about the baby’s eye, seek medical advice.
Most spots, dots and rashes on a newborn baby are harmless and will resolve themselves. It is important that you do not squeeze or rub any rash and while cleaning use warm water only. Don’t apply creams or solutions unless directed to do so by your doctor.
A baby can experience several different rashes.
Pink pimples are what we call neonatal acne and no treatment necessary
Erythema toxicum looks like raised red blotches with a white dot and they are also nothing to worry about. The cause is unknown. Use only warm water to clean.
Dry skin is very common in newborn babies, especially in babies that were overdue. The baby’s skin does not require any moisturising cream and within a few weeks their skin will be perfect.
Milia are small white dots on the baby’s nose, usually caused by blocked oil glands. They will disappear.
Stork bite is a very common red area on the eyelids, the forehead and at the nape of the neck. These marks will fade and disappear within the first 12-18 months.
Congenital Melanocytosis is a deep blue bruise like discoloration on the baby’s lower back of a baby. Also known as Mongolian Blue Spot, this is more common in babies from African, Indian and Polynesian descent.
Of course, practising good hygiene personally, and around the home is essential to keeping your new baby happy and healthy. Keep the environment safe, make the baby’s health and welfare your priority and you’ll both do well.
If the baby has jaundice at birth, the doctor will treat it by checking the baby’s blood. If you are home and you feel the jaundice is getting worse please ring your doctor, or hospital to have the baby checked.