First care of the newborn: 4 things to know ABSOLUTELY

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Finally home! After the first few days in the hospital, mum and dad are alone with their baby, but don't worry: taking care of him is all in all simple and really exciting. Here are some important things to know. 

In this article


  • The baby bath 
  • Changing the diaper 
  • The care of the umbilical cord stump
  • Dermatitis in children (Diaper rash; Cradle cap)

1. The baby bath

Let's start with the bath. There is no ideal time, the important thing is that mum (or dad) are calm and not in a hurry: if done before the evening meal, it could help sleep. The environment must be warm and comfortable and the water temperature around 36-37 ° C. The baby should be immersed by passing his left arm behind his shoulders and holding it by the armpit, in order to have the right hand free to wash it. The bath can last as long as the baby shows he likes it, making sure the water is always warm enough. Even if it is a pleasant time, from a hygienic point of view there is no need to do it every day: since soaps and detergents can be aggressive and dry the skin, if you want to do it often it is better to prefer an oily, non-foaming and fragrance-free product.

2. Changing the diaper

The diaper should be changed every time it is dirty and, when you are at home, after each change, the ideal way to prevent the onset of dermatitis is to wash the bottom under reasonably warm running water and an oily liquid detergent. The skin should then be gently dried, by dabbing. Only if there is irritation and redness, it is useful to apply a protective cream for the bottom (usually with zinc oxide).


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3. The care of the umbilical cord stump

Mothers and fathers often receive conflicting information on this issue, but in reality there are official scientific positions. According to an article published in 2022 in the journal Pediatrics, for example, in countries with high hygiene standards - such as the Del Paese - the use of antibacterial, antiseptic and disinfectant solutions should be avoided, considered not only useless but potentially counterproductive. It could in fact favor the selection of virulent bacteria and delay detachment. Also avoid alcohol, which could cause chemical burns.

How do

The abutment should be kept as dry as possible, to facilitate its fall: it is better to postpone the complete bath until it has fallen and, when possible, let the stump stay in the air. If the child has to be dressed, it is better to protect him with a (dry) gauze, to be changed even two / three times a day. Only if occasionally the cord "gets dirty" due to a few drops of blood or some secretion (not foul-smelling), can it be washed with a gauze soaked in water, water and mild soap or a chlorinated solution, drying well before resealing everything. Consult your pediatrician if more than a few drops of blood come out or there are foul smelling secretions.

4. The most common dermatitis in children

"Dermatitis is an inflammatory process of the skin that can cause various symptoms: redness (erythema), itching, peeling or the appearance of bubbles" explains Cesare Filippeschi, dermatologist specialist at the Meyer Children's Hospital in the city. Some forms are quite common among children, even very young ones. Let's see them.

1) Diaper rash

It is an inflammation - generally banal and transient - that affects the inguinal region and the bottom, the one covered by the diaper. In the most common form, due to the rubbing of the diaper on the skin and the action of irritants contained in the urine and feces, it is manifested by a redness and a slight swelling. More rarely, it can be due to other causes, such as infections or other illnesses in the baby.

How we intervene

The treatment is very simple: it involves changing the diaper often, washing the bottom well and drying it with simple tampons, apply zinc oxide cream, and don't over-tighten the diaper. "Better to avoid disposable wipes and talcum powder, and absolutely not to the use of drugs without the doctor's indication," said Filippeschi.

2) Milk crust

«The milk has nothing to do with it: the cradle cap - technically seborrheic dermatitis - it is so called because it is typical of infants, since it generally appears around 2/3 months of life, and then disappears around the sixth month »explains the dermatologist. It is characterized by yellowish scales usually located on the scalp, forehead, browbones and regions behind the ears and by an erythema that can affect the face, neck, trunk and even the groin area.

How we intervene

It is not a serious disease and in many cases it tends to go away on its own. In the milder forms you can also do nothing, or just apply an emollient cream that helps to remove the scales (no mechanical removal, with combs or other). In the most severe forms, it is advisable to consult a specialist doctor, who may recommend cortisone-based creams to be used locally.

Read also: How to take care of the skin of the newborn

Questions and answers

Should the baby be bathed every day? 

Even if it is a pleasant time, from a hygienic point of view there is no need to do it every day.

How should the baby be washed at every nappy change? 

After each change, the bottom should be washed under reasonably warm running water and an oily liquid detergent. The skin should then be gently dried.

  • bath
  • dermatitis
  • umbilical cord
  • diaper change
  • newborn 0-3 months
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