Skip to the content

Baby care

Skin care

At the beginning, it is not unusual for babies to have quite dry skin, particularly if your baby was born past its due date. Your baby may be born covered in a white, sticky substance called "vernix". This is a natural moisturiser so does not need to be wiped off. 

Eye care

When caring for your baby’s eyes good hand hygiene is important. You can clean your baby’s eyes with cooled boiled water using a clean cotton wool ball, wiping gently from the inside out. Only wipe the once with each cotton wool ball. You will need to use a separate cotton wool ball for each eye.

Cord care

The small piece of umbilical cord that has been clamped will dry out, turn black and  drop off normally between day five and fifteen. It then takes between seven to ten days for the belly button to heal completely. It is important to keep this area clean and dry to avoid infection. If it does get wet, dry it gently with a clean towel. You do not need to use any cleaning products or antiseptic powders. If it starts to smell, becomes red or swollen speack to your midwife, health visitor of GP for advice.



It is a good idea to choose a time when your baby is relaxed to bath your baby for the first time; this will help it be more of an enjoyable experience for you and your baby. Make sure the room is warm and draft free. Get prepared first, you will need:

  1. a baby bath or clean washing up bowl filled with warm water
  2. two towels
  3. a clean nappy
  4. clean clothes
  5. cotton wool

 It is important you get the water temperature right, use your elbow to test the temperature. It should feel neither hot nor cold.

It is advisable to wash your baby’s head and face first, then dry it as they loose most of their heat from their head. You do not need to use any products in the water as babies have their own skin protector. If you wish to use soap, use and mild non-perfumed soap. Continue to use plain water for the first month. You baby will only need to be bathed once or twice a week initially.


Nappy changing

In the first few weeks of your baby’s life you will change their nappy a lot! It is important it is changed as soon as possible to avoid nappy rash and irritation. For the first month it is advisable that use cotton wool and water to clean the soiled skin, as babies have very delicate skin. You do not need to use barrier cream unless your baby has a nappy rash.


Nail care

Some babies are born with long nails and it's important to cut them to prevent them form scratching themselves. You can buy special baby nail clippers or small, round-ended safety scissors. If you find the idea of cutting your baby's nails too nerve-wracking, you could try filing them down with a fine emery board instead.


Further sources of information