From her tiny toes to her precious pinkies, keeping your baby clean isn't just about making her look cute. Proper grooming helps to keep the infant's skin and body healthy. Even though she may not need the full beauty treatment, a baby still needs basic grooming such as a bath, mouth and tooth care.
You'll need special mild soap and shampoo to bathe a baby. If your baby can't sit up, support him with your non-dominant arm while washing him with your dominant hand. Start at his head and work downward. Separate any folds of skin, and clean inside the creases with a warm, soapy washcloth. Since babies don't attract a lot of dirt and grime, doing this every three to four days should be enough according to pediatrician Alan Greene on his website DrGreene.com4.
A baby's face must be clean and free of dirt and oil. Even though you'll wash her face in the bath, you may also need to do some spot cleaning after feedings or on non-bath days. A wet washcloth with a dime-sized amount of gentle baby soap on it will do the trick. Use the cloth to wash behind her ears too.
Lack of teeth doesn't mean there's no grooming to do in the mouth. The American Dental Association — on its Mouth Healthy website — recommends gently wiping a baby's gums with a wet washcloth or gauze pad. When the first teeth break through around the 6 month mark, clean them with a rice-grain size of fluoride toothpaste on an infant toothbrush. Baby teeth should be cleaned once in the morning and once at night.
Your baby's undeveloped muscle control puts her at risk for scratching her face or body with jagged nails if she flails her arms, according to the KidsHealth website. To reduce this risk, keep her nails well-trimmed. Use a pair of rounded-tip infant nail scissors or an emery board to file any finger or toenails. Steady her hand with one of yours, and trim her nails with the other.
When your baby has enough hair to wash, gently suds his head with a gentle shampoo or all-purpose baby wash during bath-time. Tip his head back when you rinse to prevent the soap and water from running into his eyes, suggests Dr. Greene. If needed, use a light touch with a wide-toothed comb to untangle the child's hair.