Your newborn is tougher than you think but there are a few sensitive areas that need to be handled with a little more care. These include the ears, eyes, nose, umbilical stump, and genitals.
Cleaning the ears
Earwax is formed in the outer ear canal and travels towards the outer ear edges with jaw movement. Ear wax is assists in natural ear cleaning and lubrication and protects the inner ear from bacteria, fungi, water and insects. Problems of infection and impacted earwax arise if wax builds up in the inner ear canal. Therefore, clean the ears using a moistened cotton wool ball or soft wipe only around the outer ear folds and behind the ear; NEVER put a cotton bud or other narrow implement inside the ear canal as it can perforate the ear drum and push wax further in.
Cleaning the eyes
Clean the eyes using cotton wool balls or soft wipes moistened in clean water. Using a clean moistened piece for each eye, wipe the eye area from the nose edge to the outside. At times you may notice the eyes weeping and stuck together. This is referred to as ‘sticky eye’ and is not an uncommon or harmful condition and is usually due to blocked tear ducts that more often than not resolve themselves.
Cleaning sticky eyes
Eyes can remain sticky for several weeks and often months despite regular cleansing. It is important to keep the eyes cleansed. If you are breastfeeding, squirt a little milk into bubs eyes. This helps cleanse and protect the eye from infection. To help release the blocked tear duct, firmly massage the inner canthus area (inner end) of the effected eye. Always clear the eyes of built up matter before nursing and seek professional advice if the eye becomes red or discharge increases.
Clearing the nose and sneezing
Your newborn starts life as a nose breather. Therefore, it is important to keep the nose clear. He cannot blow his nose or cough effectively so he sneezes regularly to clear his air passages. Keep his nasal secretions moist to assist clearing. Do this by regular feeding and squirt a little water or normal saline up the nose. A humidifier may help keep air moist. When nasal secretions are moist, use a little rubber bulb purchased from a pharmacy or twist the end of a tissue and gently grip any matter at the base of the nose. NEVER push cotton buds (or anything for that matter) up into the nasal space.
Cleaning the umbilical stump
The umbilical cord changes in appearance and odour until the point of separation (7-10 days). It becomes darker, dryer and maybe a little offensive. Clean with a cotton tip applicator dipped in normal saline or cool boiled water and a little added sea-salt if gets contaminated with poo. When the area is inflammation, cleanse and protect the skin with a natural barrier cream. Continue to air and keep dry and seek professional advice if the area continues to weep or bleed for longer than a week after the dried cord stump has fallen off.
Cleaning boy bits
When wiping baby boy genital bits don’t forget to gently lift up the scrotum and wipe underneath. Change his diaper every three to four hours as urine or poop left in contact with skin for too long forms an acid that burns. Never pull back the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis as this can do harm. A daily bathe will keep this area clean and don’t stop self-discovery, it’s normal.
Cleaning girl privates
Baby girls’ vaginal area is delicate so avoid wiping deep into the inner vaginal folds. The white substance you’ll see is natural and stays to give added cleaning and protection. Gently hold the vaginal folds apart and wipe downwards with a soft diaper liner or cotton wool ball soaked in warm water. Avoid using treated cleansing wipes as these often aggravate delicate skin and mucosa and disrupt the natural PH balance. Change her diaper every three to four hours as urine or poop left in contact with her skin for too long forms an acid that burns. Always wipe the vaginal area in a downward direction to avoid wiping faecal matter into the short urethra. A discharge of blood streaked mucous may appear in the first six weeks. This is a pseudo-menstruation so just gently wipe it away, it’s normal.
Video Clip on how to bath a newborn . . .
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance.