Newborn grooming

baby grooming

There is so much information on how to care for your newborn, but some of the simpler things are not often spoken about – and they should be! We take you through newborn grooming essentials and how to do them.


Bathe your baby no more than three times a week. More than that can dry out your infant’s skin. Give your baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump falls off, which can take up to three weeks. Gather all of your supplies—washcloths, basin of water, mild soap and towel—ahead of time, before placing your infant on a flat surface in a warm place.

Keep your hand on your baby at all times and keep your baby wrapped in a towel.  Expose only the parts of the body you’re washing. Gently clean the eyes first. Using only a damp cloth, work from the inside to the outside corners. Use separate ends of the cloth for each eye. Next, wipe your baby’s face, followed by the head. When it comes to cleaning the body, pay special attention to the skin behind the ears and around the neck, creases under the arms and legs, and, of course, the nappy area.  Don’t forget to wash between the toes and fingers.

After the umbilical area is healed, you can try bathing your infant in a newborn tub or plastic basin. Lined with a towel or rubber mat, a kitchen or bathroom sink may also be an option. Don’t fill the tub too much. Always test the water before placing your baby in it.

Hair washing

To wash your newborn’s hair, cup your hand under warm water and gently pour it over your infant’s head. Gently rub a small amount of mild soap or baby shampoo in a circular motion. Use a small cup or your hand to rinse it off. Do this by cupping one hand under their neck and gently tipping their head to the back so that any water or soap does not run down their face.

Cutting nails

Don’t use clippers or scissors to trim your little one’s nails. Use a buffer or nail file to gently file them down. Don’t file back and forth, but rather from one side to the other, then lift and repeat – this will ensure your baby’s nail does not crack.

Ears and nose cleaning

When cleaning your baby’s ears, focus on getting the outside clean. Even though the pharmacy holds lots of ear cleaning tools for the inside, only your doctor can tell you if they’re necessary. Be very careful when cleaning your baby’s ears ‒ clean what you can see ‒ never put anything deep into your baby’s ear canal or nose.  If your baby is congested, there are a few things you can do to provide gentle relief.  Talk to your baby’s doctor about using saline nasal drops or a rubber bulb syringe (to suction nostrils) to ease congestion.  You can use a moistened cotton round to gently clean any debris from around your baby’s nose, being sure to wipe away from the nose. For irritation under or around the nose, you can use a skin protectant cream or serum formulated for babies.


Toptots Early Learning SA

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