In the first few weeks of your baby's life, you will spend many happy hours each day holding and washing your precious new child. Here's how to do both like a pro!
By Dr Janice TUNG
Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital
A new era of your life has started — your tiny infant has arrived, and is ready for your care! Here's how to keep both of you smiling:
Up until about six months of age, your baby's neck muscles won't have developed and will be unable to support the weight of the head, so always support the head and neck. Did you know that babies' heads have a soft spot, known as a fontanelle? They will disappear once the skull bones knit together, but for now handle your child gently.
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Your newborn doesn't need much water, so a shallow tub will do just fine. Opt for a nice, lukewarm temperature: check that it's not too hot by testing the water with your elbow first. A good order to wash baby in is:
Eyes first. Clean them with moist cotton balls
Head next. Be sure to dry the head (and any hair!) as soon as you're done, so baby won't catch a chill
Armpits, body and bottom area last
When cleaning your daughter's genitals, be sure to wipe from front to back. That way you won't swab bacteria from the anus to the vagina
It may surprise you to know that many newborns can have quite sharp fingernails. You may be tempted to cut them, but at this early stage their nails are quite soft. Wait a few weeks until they have hardened. In the meantime, slip mittens and booties over your little one so they don't scratch themselves.
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Bath time may quickly become your favourite time with your baby. Many babies love it too, and may perk up after all the activity. To get your teeny tot relaxed and ready for bed soon after, you can end each bath with a gentle massage.
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Read these next:
The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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