Baby care basics, the sequel

If you haven’t found yourself to be absolutely riveted to your seat by all the lovely details offered in the first post, then please, pull out some popcorn and get comfy for part two–its guaranteed to be a show stopper!

Honestly, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence. I just know that I see moms day in and day out that you might assume know everything, but it turns out they don’t. Especially when they leave a diaper on for twelve hours without changing it and then look at you like you’re crazy when you ask how many wet or dirty diapers they’ve changed…”aren’t you doing that?”  They ask.  And when I, (their nurse) inform them, that no, as long as the baby is in their room, the parents do the greatest part of the care, they just don’t know what to say.  It happens almost every day.

Seems like an obvious task–changing a diaper.  But for many, it’s just one of several key baby care basics that get skipped.    So, we’ve taken a look at circumcisions and the necessity for great umbilical cord care.  Now, let’s think about some more obvious but neglected issues.

Sleep Positioning

Newborns should sleep on their backs or sides. I know. I know. When we were born, our mothers put us on our bellies to keep us from choking. But, that was then and this is now and while babies are placed on their backs today, we don’t see the number of choking problems that you might expect. The risk of belly sleeping is more than just a choking issue, its a breathing one.   We still now very little about what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but tummy sleeping has been linked to a higher rate of occurrence and that rules out this position for safety reasons.

Babies should also be placed in cribs or bassinets with firm, flat mattresses, free from soft blankets, and fuzzy animals.  Sometimes, I am even anti-bumper pad for the same issue. Babies may smother in soft surfaces, so keep your baby on their back or side.     If you would like to position your baby on his or her side, you may use a sleep positioner (one of those padded “devices” you can pick up at any baby care store) or just roll two blankets and tuck one behind and one in front of baby for sleeping.


During the first weeks of life, your baby only needs a head-to-toe bath about every other day. Sponge off any dirty areas like the face, hands and bottom every day, and don’t forget to clean the cord with alcohol. NO, NO, NO tub bath or water soaked cords until it falls off and heals completely.

Remember to bathe your baby in an area free from cold drafts and only expose the part you want to wash. Don’t leave your baby unattended near water, and don’t do baths on high surfaces where baby may roll off or be dropped. Make sure you have everything within reach that you will need.  Use the floor until you get a good handle on what you’re doing.

If you aren’t sure about the water temperature, test it on the inside of your wrist, or pick up a temperature tester in the baby department. Turn down the temperature on your water heater to prevent scalding as well.   Anyway, clean the exposed body part, and then dry and cover up again.  Start with the eyes and face. (I mean, logically, who washes their backside before their face? Let’s not go there…) Then work your way down the body saving the diaper area for last. Wash hair after the rest of the body is finished by wrapping your baby in a blanket and gently washing the hair under warm running water. See? Its easier to manage a crying, wet, slippery baby than you thought.

There’s a lot more to cover, but we’ll work up to that. For now, you have the most obvious and important tasks mastered, I know it!