Newborn Care From Head to Toe

Tips for keeping your baby clean and comfy.


Follow these simple, doctor-recommended tips for keeping your baby clean and comfy.


It's disconcerting to see a newborn with a red, blotchy face, but baby acne is a common and harmless condition.

Care tip: Wash your baby's face daily with a mild baby soap.


Some babies have a yellowish discharge or crusting in the eye or on the lid, which is usually caused by a blocked tear duct. This condition can last several months.

Care tip: Wipe the area using a cotton ball moistened with warm water.


Many newborns develop a scaly scalp condition called cradle cap. It typically disappears in the first few months.

Care tip: Wash your baby's hair with a gentle baby shampoo no more than three times a week and gently brush out the scales daily using a baby hairbrush or soft toothbrush.


Babies' narrow nasal passages tend to fill with mucus.

Care tip: Gently unclog nostrils with an infant-sized nasal bulb syringe or try the trauma-minimizing Nosefrida ( To loosen mucus, insert saline solution with an eyedropper before suctioning.


A newborn's nails usually are soft, but they can scratch his sensitive skin.

Care tip: Use baby nail clippers or blunt-nosed scissors. Clip after his bath when nails are soft, or when he's asleep and his fingers are relaxed.


Some babies develop red, itchy patches called eczema or atopic dermatitis—an inheritable skin condition.

Care tip: Limit baths to 10 minutes, and use a mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water; liberally apply hypoallergenic skin cream immediately afterward. Stick to cotton clothing.


Too much moisture plus sensitive skin can equal diaper rash for many babies.

Care tip: Change diapers frequently. Rinse your baby's bottom with water during each change and blot dry. Avoid using wipes; they may irritate skin. Barrier creams, such as petroleum jelly or white zinc oxide, may help.

Umbilical cord

Keep the umbilical cord stump clean and dry; it will shrivel and fall off within a few weeks.

Care tip: Avoid covering the cord area with a diaper and stick to sponge baths until the stump detaches.


The tip of the penis will be swollen, and a yellow scab will appear.

Care tip: Gently clean the genital area with warm water daily. Use petroleum jelly to protect the site and prevent the penis from sticking to a diaper.


Newborns' legs are bowed out and the feet are turned in, which is no surprise, given their previous cramped living quarters.

Care tip: Don't worry about it—your baby's legs and feet will straighten in anywhere from six to 18 months.


Newborns' toes frequently overlap and the nails look ingrown (but aren't).

Care tip: Don't sweat it—this appearance is perfectly normal.