Newborn Care Manual

Now that they’ve let you take the baby home (yay!), here’s what to do to care for him.
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Updated March 2, 2017
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Image: Candice Baker Photography

Cleaning the umbilical cord

During diaper changes, wipe around the area with an alcohol wipe (check with your OB; some think it’s better to leave it alone). The remaining  cord should fall off in a few weeks. Call your doctor if you see redness, warmth, swelling, or if it still hasn’t fallen off in 4 to 6 weeks.

Trimming long nails

It’s important to keep your baby’s nails short so he doesn’t scratch his face or eyes. The best way to do this is to trim them with infant-size clippers or file them down while he’s sleeping. It might be tempting, but skip the scissors — or biting your newborn’s nails.

Cleaning out ear wax

Don’t stick anything, including Q-tips, into your baby’s ear canal, even if you spot wax inside. Eventually, it’ll clear out on its own.


Limit  bathing to a few times a week (or as needed). The truth is infants don’t get that dirty (exception: very messy poops or spit-ups). And until your baby’s umbilical cord has fallen off, don’t immerse her belly.

Changing diapers

Changing them asap is the key to fighting rashes. Girl tip: Wipe front to back to avoid urinary tract infections. Boy tip: It’s normal for him to get  erections during diaper changes.

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