Newborns smell like heaven with a scent of milk and cute sweetness. When looking at them, you would never think that they have hidden talents such as producing cheese (Dutch, French or Swiss … I let you decide) and collecting dust. For instance, arm pits, neck lines and toes are fantastic places for human cream cheese and remnant of textile fabic. I didn’t expect this and neither did a friend of mine. When being pregnant with her first child, she asked me to write a post on my favorite baby care products, how I keep my baby clean and my remedies against certain appearances such as baby acne, rashes ane cradle crap. Of course did I accept the challenge so here is my personal guide on how I kept my baby fresh and clean during the first months.
The Newborn – Less is more!
When it comes to newborns my midwife taught me that less is more. I knew that you can easily pass on products and use only water instead of washing gel, shampoo and skin cream/oil during the first year. That said, the products I had chosen were very gentle and smooth so little by little I decided to make light use of them.
Products: I always try to use only products that are organic and free of additives and preservatives. When preparing for the arrival of my son, I had bought products from Original IS and the Weleda Calendula baby care line. Having tried out the various products, I can say that the Weleda line is great but I do have a slight preference for the Original IS product line. Developed by the German midwife Ingeborg Stadelmann in collaboration with a pharmacy, the products are based on essentail oils and all mixtures are modulated according to babie’s needs. Products have to be ordered from Germany though which makes them less accessible than the Weleda line.
Umbilical cord: Here in the Netherlands, the approach is not to clean the cut with alcohol on a daily basis but to leave it. Nature will do its duty and the wound will heal and dry until the least bit of the cord falls off. In our case, this happened seven days after Thiago was born. During this time, we bathed him twice and did not have any issues with the wound.
Bathing/Washing: Newborns do not have to be bathed every day as this can risk to dry out their skin. My midwife recommended to bath my son one to two times per week. I used a Tummy Tub filled with warm water at around 37 – 38 degrees as it gives the newborn a similar feeling to being in the mother’s womb (here is a video that shows how to use the Tummy Tub). At the beginning I only used water but after couple of weeks I added a couple of drops of the Original IS organic essential baby bathing oil . On “dirty” days (i.e. big poop incident), I used the Weleda Calendula cream bath. I used a very smooth organic sponge to clean the parts around the ears, neck, arm pit, fingers, bands, bum and toes as these are the parts that are most likely to hide human cream cheese and dust.
On the other days, I washed my son in the morning on his whole body with a smooth facecloth with warm water to make sure that all body parts were clean.
Drying: When drying, I put extra attention to the parts mentioned here above to make sure that these do not stay wet and become ground for bacteria. Using a regular q-tip to clean the space between the toes worked well to get rid of the last bit of what was hiding there.
Skin care: I used and still use organic almond oil for my baby’s skin. It retains moisture in the skin cells and gives additional hydration to the skin which is great for all skin types. Moreover, it has a pretty neutral scent which is nice as I wanted my baby to keep his own delicious smell. I apply it on the body the cheeks and the earlobe while massaging it gently onto the skin.
Neonatal Acne: After the first couple of weeks, approximately 20% of all newborns (mostly baby boys) develop newborn acne which is due to a hormonal change in their body as well as a reaction to maternal hormones. This is nothing dagerous nor painful. In this time, I washed my baby only with the facecloth and lukewarm water (without soap) an did not apply any oil. However, I used some breast milk for a soothing effect on the skin. After a week, my son had his beautiful skin back.
Hair: I used rarely shampoo for my son’s hair. When it happened to be the case, I used the Weleda Calendula Bodywash & Shampoo. To brush my baby’s hair I still use a brush with super soft organic goat hair.
Cradle Crap: After a month, my son developed a light form of cradle crap on his skull. The pediatrician recommeneded to do nothing but leave it the way it is. I read as well that you may apply oil and brush the skull with a smooth brush to get the dandruff off which I personally did not do. However, it was difficult to leave these flakes untouched so with clean hands and finger nails I took care of it like a monkey mom (and I know that I am not the only one!).
Nappy Rash: For my baby’s bum, I used the IS Windelbalsam. I really love this cream as it does not have a strong smell and keeps the skin mooth and soft while avoiding redness. When my son happened to have a rash, I tried to leave his bum aired (fresh air can do miracles) and applied some breast milk which normally worked really well. In case of strong redness, drying gently the bum with a hair dryer before applying breast milk or sudocrem worked well. I only used this cream once though when my son had a severe nappy rash as nothing else worked.
Wipes: To clean my baby’s bum when changing his diaper, I use the unscented wipes from Naty. I haved used these from the start and I am much satisfied with the quality. I have tried other brands and I must say that I prefer these by far compared to the others. They don’t leave an artificial smell nor foam from additional cleaning ingredients on my baby’s skin. Top!
Nose: My son was born in winter and caught a cold pretty quickly. To clean his nose, I use the Otrivin Kit including the Otrivin Aspirator. I don’t use the nose spray but prefer to apply bit of Marjoram butter under his nostrils as it his helps with congested noses. Some pharmacies still produce it but I’ll post as well a recipe here soon.
Ears: In general, baby ears do not have to be cleaned, in particular not with regular q-tips as these represent the risk to enter the ear too deeply and destroy the eardrum. That said, when I see yellowish earwax accumulating, I get rid of it using gently a special baby q-tip that does not allow to go too far into the ear canal.
Finger & toe nails: A baby’s nails grow super fast. To keep them in a safe length, I use baby scissors but you can also work with a clipper. I’ve been taught two rules. 1. Do not cut them too short. 2. Finger nails need to be cut round shaped whereas toe nails should be cut straight (both to avoid that the nail incarnates).