Mother and Baby

Baby Care: The Basics

You’re used to your own beauty regime – but what about your baby’s needs? Hair, teeth, nails and ears all need some special attention. It’s pampering but not as you know it – take pride in your baby’s personal care with these expert tips...
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Once your baby starts getting her teeth, clean them morning and night. Sit her on your knee with her head against your chest and make small circles on her teeth using a baby toothbrush. ‘Just a smear of baby toothpaste is fine for infants under three,’ says dentist James Macdonald. ‘Small children find it hard to spit out, so if they do swallow the paste, a smear won’t put them at risk of exposure to fluoride, which can discolour teeth enamel.’
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As soon as your baby’s nails start to look a bit long, it’s time for a trim to stop those scratches. How? Softened by water, post-bath nails are perfect for preening. ‘Use a soft nail file to manage your baby’s nails rather than clippers or scissors, which can leave sharp edges,’ says midwife and neonatal skincare advisor Sharon Trotter. ‘As the nail starts to come away, you can peel it off gently.’
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As little fingers regularly find their way into little mouths, Rachel Waddilove, author of (LINK), recommends cleaning your baby’s hands when you top-and-tail her, as well as after nappy changes. Before cleaning your baby’s hands, always wash yours first. ‘Once she’s a toddler, teach her to always wash her hands before meals,’ says Rachel.
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It may not look pretty, but earwax is a natural substance that helps trap dirt and dust to keep your baby’s ears clean and healthy. While using a fresh piece of damp cotton wool to wipe around your baby’s ears is perfect for mopping up those dribbles of milk, Sharon advises not to clean inside them. ‘Never stick cotton buds inside your baby’s ears, either, as you could puncture her delicate eardrums,’ she says.
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A hair wash once a week is more than enough for your baby and – to save her getting chilly – just before bathtime is best. ‘Hold your baby securely in the bath with one arm and scoop water over her head with the other,’ says Rachel. ‘Try to direct the water towards the back of her head so it doesn’t get in her eyes. You can then pat her hair dry.’ Skip shampoo until your baby is one-year-old, then make sure it is sulphate-free.
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Tackling cradle cap

If your newborn looks like she has dandruff, with yellow, scaly patches on her scalp, she may have cradle cap (LINK). It’s very common and thought to be linked to the glands that create the sebum or oil that keeps skin healthy from going into overdrive. While it looks unsightly, it doesn’t itch or cause discomfort. ‘It usually clears up on its own, but gently washing your baby’s hair and scalp may prevent a build-up of flakes,’ says Gail Johnson from the Royal College of Midwives. ‘Don’t pick at it – this can cause infection.’
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Baby’s bottom

Your baby will need to be changed every time you feed her or if she’s dirty. Left in contact with her skin, the ammonia in her poo can cause nappy rash. ‘Don’t use baby wipes in the first month or when your baby’s bottom is sore – cotton wool and warm water is enough,’ says Sharon. A barrier cream at each change will help prevent nappy rash.

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