Your Baby's Health

Skin care

The basic rules of newborn skincare is less is more. Baby skin is highly absorbent so it is critical to use fragrance free, hypo-allergenic products. Avoid perfumes and dyes, which can irritate newborn skin. Premature skin does not hold moisture well, which makes it thinner, drier and prone to breakage.


Skin changes are fairly common in newborns and usually do not need any medical treatment. 

Sun Exposure

Keep babies under 1 year of age out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration. Never let them play or sleep in direct sunlight. Keep babies in the shade of an umbrella, canopy or tree. Never leave your baby in a parked vehicle. Sunscreen is not recommended in babies less than 6 months of age.

Diaper rash

Diaper rash, also called diaper dermatitis, happens when your baby’s diaper area becomes irritated from wet or soiled diapers. Your baby’s skin is very sensitive. You can help to prevent this from happening by using an unscented barrier cream. The barrier cream helps to moisturize the skin and create a barrier layer against the urine and stool. It is important to apply a layer of barrier after each diaper change. Wash the area with just water when there is no stool. Gently pat the area dry without rubbing. Wipe off any stool contaminated cream with mild unscented soapy water and then rinse with clean water or use an unscented baby wipe, pat dry and reapply the barrier cream. Don’t share creams and ointment with any other children. When applying the barrier don’t touch the affected skin and then put your finger back into the container. Use a different clean finger each time you need more barrier. Do not use baby powder or talc as this is a risk to your baby’s lungs. If possible give your baby short periods of time with their diaper off. If the rash is severe- bright redness, areas of skin breakdown or bleeding call your healthcare provider.

Umbilical cord care

By the time you are home from the hospital your baby’s cord will be starting to dry. The cord usually dries up and falls off within 1-3 weeks. Water is all you need to clean the area and then pat dry. Do not pull on the stump even when it starts to come off. Fold the top edge of the diaper over so it does not rub on the umbilical area. If you notice any skin redness or swelling, yellow pus, foul smelling drainage or bleeding notify your healthcare provider.


Babies do not need bathing every day. A wash with a warm wet cloth will help keep your baby clean between baths. It is important to use a mild unscented soap. Rinse well to prevent skin from becoming irritated. 

See the following bathing tips:

  • Bath your baby in a warm room. The water should feel comfortable to the touch.
  • Make sure you have gathered all your supplies before starting the bath. Never leave your baby alone.
  • Remove all jewelry that might scratch the baby.
  • Hold your baby securely.
  • Use clean water to clean your baby’s eyes, ears, mouth and face.
  • Wipe a baby girl’s genital area gently front to back.
  • Keep a boy’s penis clean by gently washing the area. Do not pull back on the foreskin.
  • Do not use cotton swabs to clean the inside of your baby’s nose or ears. Use a clean wash cloth wrapped around your finger to clean the outer areas.

Never leave your baby unattended in the bath, even for a moment.

Pacifiers or soothers

Babies are born wanting to suck. This can be seen on ultrasound when a baby is still in utero. A soother can also be comforting and help to soothe a baby. Advantages of using a pacifier include the following:

  • Several studies suggest that using a pacifier during the first year of life decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • A pacifier helps to satisfy the suck reflex. Babies have a natural need to suck.
  • A pacifier can help encourage a baby to self soothe.
  • Can there be problems with using a pacifier? 
  • Using a pacifier incorrectly could lead to problems with breastfeeding, teeth and possibly ear infections.

Tips for use of a pacifier

  • Sterilize the pacifier by putting it in boiling water for 5 minutes before the first use. Make sure it is completely cooled down before offering it to your baby.
  • Clean the soother with hot soapy water and then rinse.
  • Always see if your baby is hungry, tired or bored before offering a pacifier.
  • Always check for cracks or tears in the soother before offering the pacifier to your baby.
  • Replace the soother every 2 months.
  • Never tie the pacifier around your baby’s neck.
  • Visit the Caring for Kids ‘Pacifiers” web page

Fever and temperature taking; when to seek medical help

Check with your baby’s doctor if:

  • Your baby has continuous crying and will not settle.
  • Your baby appears weak.
  • Your baby has a high-pitched cry or is moaning.
  • Your baby's mouth appears dry.
  • Your baby has had less than half the amount she would normally drink.
  • Your baby’s breathing appears too fast or too slow.
  • Your baby has diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Your baby has an unexplained rash.
  • Your baby has a cold that is not improving or is getting worse.
  • Your baby has a fever. (temperature over 38 degrees Celcius)
  • Your baby’s mouth looks blue. Call 911
  • Your baby is sleeping more than usual and you are having trouble waking them. Call 911
  • Most parents know when to be concerned. Trust your instinct.

What is the best way to take your baby’s temperature?

The safest way to take your baby’s temperature is in the center of the armpit or the axilla with a digital thermometer. Do not use a mercury thermometer. If it breaks, you might be exposed to the toxic substance.

  • Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse
  • Place the tip of the thermometer in the center of the armpit
  • Make sure your child’s arm is tucked snugly against his/her body.
  • Leave the thermometer in place for about a minute, or as long as the package directions state.
  • Remove the digital thermometer and read the temperature.
  • Clean the thermometer.
  • If your baby is under 6 months of age and the thermometer reading is 38 C (100 F) or higher you must call your doctor or healthcare provider.