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Caring for your Baby

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about caring for my baby?

Care for your baby includes keeping him or her safe, clean, and comfortable. Your baby will cry or make noises to let you know when he or she needs something. You will learn to tell what your baby needs by the way he or she cries. Your baby will move in certain ways when he or she needs something, such as sucking on a fist when hungry.

What should I feed my baby?

How much should I feed my baby?

How do I help my baby latch on correctly for breastfeeding?

Help your baby move his or her head to reach your breast. Hold the nape of his or her neck to help him or her latch onto your breast. Touch his or her top lip with your nipple and wait for him or her to open his or her mouth wide. Your baby's lower lip and chin should touch the areola (dark area around the nipple) first. Help him or her get as much of the areola in his or her mouth as possible. You should feel as if your baby will not separate from your breast easily. A correct latch helps your baby get the right amount of milk at each feeding. Allow your baby to breastfeed for as long as he or she is able.

Correct Latch-on Breastfeeding

How do I know if my baby is latched on correctly?

What do I need to know about feeding my baby safely?

How do I burp my baby?

Burp your baby when you switch breasts or after every 2 to 3 ounces from a bottle. Burp him or her again when he or she is finished eating. Your baby may spit up when he or she burps. This is normal. Hold your baby in any of the following positions to help him or her burp:

How do I change my baby's diaper?

Never leave your baby alone when you change his or her diaper. If you need to leave the room, put the diaper back on and take your baby with you. Wash your hands before and after you change your baby's diaper.

Umbilical Cord Care

How do I care for my baby's skin?

Sponge bathe your baby with warm water and a cleanser made for a baby's skin. Do not use baby oil, creams, or ointments. These may irritate your baby's skin or make skin problems worse. Ask for more information on sponge bathing your baby.

Sponge Bath Baby

How do I clean my baby's ears and nose?

How do I care for my baby's eyes?

A newborn baby's eyes usually make just enough tears to keep his or her eyes wet. By 7 to 8 months old, your baby's eyes will develop so they can make more tears. Tears drain into small ducts at the inside corners of each eye. A blocked tear duct is common in newborns. A possible sign of a blocked tear duct is a yellow sticky discharge in one or both of your baby's eyes. Your baby's pediatrician may show you how to massage your baby's tear ducts to unplug them.

How do I care for my baby's fingernails and toenails?

Your baby's fingernails are soft, and they grow quickly. You may need to trim them with baby nail clippers 1 or 2 times each week. Be careful not to cut too closely to the skin because you may cut the skin and cause bleeding. It may be easier to cut your baby's fingernails when he or she is asleep. Your baby's toenails may grow much slower. They may be soft and deeply set into each toe. You will not need to trim them as often.

How do I care for my baby's umbilical cord stump?

Your baby's umbilical cord stump will dry and fall off in about 7 to 21 days, leaving a belly button. If your baby's stump gets dirty from urine or bowel movement, wash it off right away with water. Gently pat the stump dry. This will help prevent infection around your baby's cord stump. Fold the front of the diaper down below the cord stump to let it air dry. Do not cover or pull at the cord stump.

Umbilical Cord Healing

How do I care for my baby boy's circumcision?

Your baby's penis may have a plastic ring that will come off within 8 days. His penis may be covered with gauze and petroleum jelly. Keep your baby's penis as clean as possible. Clean it with warm water only. Gently blot or squeeze the water from a wet cloth or cotton ball onto the penis. Do not use soap or diaper wipes to clean the circumcision area. This could sting or irritate your baby's penis. Your baby's penis should heal in about 7 to 10 days.

What should I do when my baby cries?

Your baby may cry because he or she is hungry. He or she may have a wet diaper, or be hot or cold. He or she may cry for no reason you can find. It can be hard to listen to your baby cry and not be able to calm him or her down. Ask for help and take a break if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Never shake your baby to try to stop his or her crying. This can cause blindness or brain damage. The following may help comfort your baby:

How can I keep my baby safe when he or she sleeps?

How can I keep my baby safe in the car?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call my baby's pediatrician?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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