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Taking Care of Baby

Bathing Your Baby

Many parents worry about giving their baby her first bath. They may be afraid that they will drop or somehow hurt the baby. The baby may also be apprehensive and cry at first.

But, by applying the following instructions, bath time should turn into a safe and enjoyable experience. Parents will learn to be more confident and the baby will come to understand that it is not something to be afraid of but instead, something that is fun.

NEVER leave your baby alone in the bath!

It only takes a few inches of water for a baby to drown. If the phone rings or someone is at the door, always wrap your baby in a towel and take her with you. Do not leave the baby unattended in the bath.

ALWAYS test the water temperature first

Dip your elbow or wrist in the bath water to make sure it is not hot.

START with sponge baths

Most doctors recommend sponge baths until the baby’s naval has healed.

Place a water-proof cloth or pad on your lap, a bed, or a changing table.

» Start with the baby’s head. Wipe each eye with a ball of cotton. Wipe from the inside corner of the eye toward the outside.
» Use a washcloth to wipe around the face and neck, especially the mouth, nose, and ears.
» Do not poke anything into the baby’s ears or nose.
» To wash the baby’s scalp, reach under the baby’s back and hold the head in your hand so that it tilts backward just a bit. Squeeze a little water onto the scalp. Wipe in a circular motion.

USE soap sparingly

Use a mild or special baby soap once or twice a week. Rinse twice to get all of the soap off. Pat dry with a soft towel.

MOST of the rules are the same for tub baths

Follow the same basic washing procedures and safety rules as for sponge baths. Also,
» Fill the tub with approximately two inches of warm – not hot – water.
» Place a towel on the bottom of the tub to make it less slippery.
» When washing your baby’s back, lean the child forward across your arm. Do not turn your baby over.
» Never let go of your baby.

HOW you hold your baby is important

» Keep the baby’s body and face well above the water level. Pour warm water over the baby’s body frequently to keep her warm.
» Use one hand and reach behind your baby’s neck, gently grasp the top of the opposite shoulder with your thumb and the baby’s armpit and ribs with your fingers.• Let the baby’s head rest against your wrist.
» Hold your baby’s thigh with the other hand when you lift your baby into and out of the tub.

ALLOW for some play time

Give the baby some extra time to splash and play in the water.

Dental and Oral Health

Regular dental care needs to start at an early age in order to provide good oral health for your child. There are ways to help prevent cavities even when the baby is very young. Consult your dentist to determine when you should take your child in for her first appointment.

For Babies

» Do not put the baby to sleep with a bottle. Hold the baby while he drinks his formula or juice, then put him to bed after wiping his teeth and gums with a moist cloth.
» If you breastfeed your baby or there is little fluoride in the drinking water, your baby may need fluoride drops. Discuss this with the baby’s pediatrician.
» When multiple teeth appear, begin brushing your baby’s teeth using a soft toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste with fluoride.

For Older Children

» Brush after every meal and before bedtime.
» Dental sealants can help prevent cavities. Discuss this option with your dentist.
» Using dental floss can help prevent cavities and gum disease.
» If a permanent tooth is knocked out, rinse it gently and put it back in the socket or in a glass of cold milk or water. See a dentist immediately.

Pacifiers and Thum-Sucking

Some babies suck their thumbs or fingers before they are born.  Should they be allowed to continue sucking their thumbs/fingers or be given a pacifier?

Regardless of the method, it is best that children quit sucking on their fingers, thumb, or pacifier by the time they are 4 years of age. 

Pacifier pros and cons


  • May help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Offers a brief distraction while you are preparing her bottle or to nurse
  • May have a calming effect on a fussy baby
  • Easier to break the habit than thumb or finger sucking because the pacifier can be taken away


  • May interfere with breast-feeding if given before breast-feeding is well established
  • May increase middle ear infections
  • The baby may become dependent on it to fall asleep, waking when the pacifier falls out of his mouth

Tips for using a pacifier

  • See if your baby is hungry or needs changing before giving him a pacifier
  • Use a one piece pacifier that is dish washer safe. Until the baby is 6 months old, clean in the dishwasher. After that, wash in soap and water.
  • Never tie a pacifier around the baby’s neck or to the crib with a long ribbon or string. Instead, use special made pacifier clips with short ribbons.
  • Never dip the pacifier in sugar or honey. Honey can cause botulism and the sugar can damage the baby’s teeth.
  • Keep more than one pacifier of the same brand and type that your baby uses – many babies will refuse a different kind.

Stopping the use of a pacifier

  • Do not use past 12 months old
  • Limit the amount of time your child uses the pacifier
  • Give praises for not using the pacifier
  • Once it has been taken away for good, do not give in to the child’s requests or tantrums wanting it back again

Stopping thumb-sucking

  • If a child is still sucking his thumb after age 5, steps need to be taken to help him quit
  • Give praises for not sucking his thumb, do not nag or discipline for the behavior
  • Involve the child in deciding how to stop
  • A commercial product, that does not taste good, can be applied to the thumbnail
  • Be patient – some children may revert back to thumb-sucking after quitting if they are extremely tired, scared, or worried.  Support him in his efforts to quit again – do not ridicule or be upset about his setback.


Teething is the process of new teeth emerging from the gums. It can be a frustrating time for both the baby and the parents. Teething usually causes the baby to be fussy, have excessive drooling, and want to chew on everything. Teething may also cause a drool rash, diarrhea, cough, or fever.

Babies usually get their first tooth between 3 and 6 months.

Signs of teething:

Swollen gums, excessive drooling, acting fussy, tendency to chew on everything, low-grade fever, and sometimes diarrhea.

What to do:

Swollen gums

» allow the baby to chew on a cool, damp washcloth
» use a topical anesthetic such as Ora-Gel, etc. on the gums
» gently massage the baby’s gums with your finger

Excessive drooling

» use a petroleum-based ointment on chin


» occasionally give non-aspirin pain reliever


» give the baby a teething ring or soft wash cloth

Fever & Diarrhea

» give a non-aspirin pain reliever for the fever
» the diarrhea does not require treatment as long as it is only once or twice a day and does not occur every day

Call the doctor:

If the baby’s temperature is continually higher than 100º or if the diarrhea is more frequent than twice a day and/or occurs every day

Infant Massage

Infant massage has many benefits for the baby and the parents.  Through touch, the baby learns the comfort and security of being loved.  It also promotes bonding between the parent and child.  Expectant parents should take an infant massage instruction course before the birth of their child so they will be prepared to start immediately.

Benefits for the Baby

  • Pain relief from the discomforts of teething, colic, gas, etc
  • Relaxation
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves sensory awareness
  • Helps induce sleep
  • Enhances the bonding process between parent and child
  • Boosts the immune system

Benefits for Parents

  • Helps increase the parent’s confidence
  • Provides quality time with the child
  • Promotes bonding between parent and child
  • Relaxing for the parent also

Babies learn security and love through touch.  Infant massage should not be performed immediately before or after the baby eats.  The best time to massage your baby is before naptime or bedtime.

Choose a room that is warm and use a natural vegetable, nut, or fruit oil to prevent friction.

Massage Positions

  • Place the baby on your lap, knees bent and baby supported on your stomach and thighs
  • Sit on the floor with both legs straight out or one leg bent at the knee and your foot tucked into your groin with the baby on the floor in front of you
  • Kneel on a cushion and sit back on your heels with baby on the floor in front of you

Massage Strokes

  • Legs and Feet

Starting with one leg, gently grasp the baby’s ankle with your left hand.  With the right hand, grasp the inside of the thigh and stroke (or milk) down to the foot.  Now grasp the baby’s ankle with the right hand and stroke with the left.  Repeat several times on each leg.

Using both hands, gently squeeze and twist all the way down the leg.  Repeat several times on each leg.

Stroke your thumbs from the heel to the toes several times on each foot.

  • Stomach and Chest

Massage the stomach using a circular motion with one hand and then the other.

Place both hands together at the center of the chest and then sweep out to each side following the ribcage.

With both hands, sweep down from the chest to the stomach.

  • Arms and Hands

Gently stroke the armpits several times

Form a circle around the top of the baby’s arm with your fingers and thumb.  Stoke down the arm towards the wrist.

Roll the arm between your hands beginning at the shoulder and moving down to the wrist.

Stroke the top of the hand moving from the wrist to the fingers.

Gently rotate each of the baby’s fingers between your index finger and your thumb

  • Back

Sit the baby up on your lap or lay them on their tummy on your lap with your legs extended

Gently stroke down from the shoulders to the lower back.  Mold your entire hand to their back.

Make little circles all over their back with your fingertips.

  • Face

With both thumbs, softly stoke from the middle of their forehead out towards the temples.

From the side of their nose, stroke diagonally down across the cheeks.

Starting at the top of the forehead, use your fingertips to stroke down over the ears, behind the ears, and under the chin.