Hygiene and baby care: 7 things you do often, but don't make much sense

Fonte: Oleg / Flickr

Especially in the first few days at home with a newborn, parents can feel confused and not quite sure what to do. The situation is complicated by the fact that some advice given in the birth centers, by the pediatricians themselves or by friends and relatives are more the result of tradition, of "it has always been done this way" than of actual scientific evidence. Let's see some examples, with the help of Adima Lamborghini, family pediatrician in Silvi (Teramo) and member of the Study Center of the Federation of Paesena pediatricians (Fimp).

1. Medication of the umbilical cord with disinfectants and antibacterials

Science says it clearly: in countries with high hygiene standards, such as the country certainly is, the use of antibacterial, antiseptic and disinfectant solutions for cleaning the umbilical cord stump not only is it useless, but it could be counterproductive, because they could favor the selection of virulent bacterial strains and because they seem to delay the moment of detachment of the stump itself.

"Moreover alcohol must be absolutely avoided, which can cause quite painful chemical burns "underlines Adima Lamborghini.

What to do then? The important is keep the abutment as dry as possible, to facilitate the fall. So whenever possible the stump can and should stay in the air. However, if the child must 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" a little due to some secretion (not smelly), can it be washed lightly with a gauze soaked in water, water and mild soap or at most a chlorinated solution. Always drying well before closing everything.

2. Bath every day
From a hygienic point of view there is absolutely no reason. "What filth can a baby ever have on him?" Lamborghini points out. "Of course, in summer the little one can also be freshened up every day, but in winter there is no need".

The problem is not the water itself, but soaps and detergents, which today tend to be quite aggressive. "Almost all of them contain foaming agents and emulsifiers that can be irritating to the skin in the long run, especially if it is already naturally very delicate and irritable," says the pediatrician. The skin, therefore, tends to become dry, which may require the use of moisturizers.

In short, if you really want to bathe very often, it is better to limit the detergents as much as possible: "And in any case - concludes Lamborghini - for the little ones they are preferable non-foaming and fragrance-free products, generally more delicate and less irritating ".

3. Bottom creams with every nappy change

It is true: the feces of the newborn, especially if breastfed, are very acidic, so it is easy for contact irritation to occur, all the more frequent today with the super tight diapers we have. "In case of irritation and redness, bottom creams - typically zinc oxide creams - are useful, because they create a barrier that prevents irritants from coming into contact with the skin and promotes healing of the skin itself" explains Lamborghini.

However be careful not to abuse it. And, above all, not to use them if there is no need: "The irritation is frequent but it is not the rule. It may not even exist, and then it is useless to sprinkle the bottom with cream".

4. Boiling water to prepare infant formula

Many mothers still do this: to prepare infant formula, they dissolve the powdered milk in boiled mineral water. "But boiling is not necessary: ​​just heat it to 70 ° C. Higher temperatures precipitate the salts present in the water, which are still important, and risk compromising the functionality of any vitamins or other temperature-sensitive factors present in the formula "Lamborghini underlines.

5. Nasal washes for cold prevention

Whether using single-dose vials of physiological solution or syringes (without needle) always filled with physiological saline, for many parents the nasal washing of the newborn is a daily ritual. "The idea is that it can help prevent colds or coughs, but in reality there is no scientific study that demonstrates its usefulness in this sense"explains Lamborghini.

Others use it when the cold is already in place, to try to clear the airways, at least temporarily, and help the baby breathe better, for example at the time of feeding. Which obviously becomes more difficult if the little one struggles to breathe. Even in this case, however, not many specific studies have been conducted. The available data relates to a slight improvement that would occur in the case of more serious conditions such as bronchiolitis.

6. Aerosol with cortisone for colds

Aerosol steroids are one of the categories of drugs most prescribed to Del Paeseni children. According to Clavenna, head of the Pharmacoepidemiology Unit of the Laboratory for Maternal and Child Health of the Mario Negri Institute in our city, "in Del Paese the frequency with which these drugs are used is four times greater than in other countries". Most often, the use concerns simple colds.

Yet, there is no scientific evidence to justify this widespread use. In other words, there is no evidence that the classic cortisone aerosol improves cold symptoms or reduces their duration. Indeed, its use could even be counterproductive. "In the long run - argues Lamborghini - the nebulization of cortisones could cause damage to the nasal mucosa, reducing the body's ability to respond to infectious agents such as viruses".

Not surprisingly, the Cultural Association of Pediatricians places the habitual use of inhaled cortisone in inflammations of the respiratory tract of children in first place among practices at risk of inappropriateness. Practices, that is, which should not be used on the carpet but whose real usefulness should be evaluated case by case.

At the most, if the child willingly accepts aerosol, you can give it a try with the physiological. But without expecting miracles.

7. Use of alcohol as a skin disinfectant

"Better to avoid, because in contact with the skin it tends to damage the proteins present in the tissue, causing the formation of agglomerates that can become a substratum of infections "says Lamborghini." In fact, this is precisely the reason why it burns: it interacts with the tissue, irritating it, and not a good thing at all. Also, it can cause chemical burns. "

To clean a wound, you first need to wash it abundantly with water or physiological solution and possibly use a chlorinated solution as a disinfectant.

Updated on 12.06.2022

  • newborn hygiene
  • care
  • myths
  • newborn 0-3 months
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