What is baby hygiene?
Babies are totally dependent on us to look after them. During the first year the baby relies on his mother to feed him, move him from place to place, keep him clean, talk to him, and most important of all, love him. Well-cared for babies grow up to have fewer problems later, and a well-cared-for child is in turn likely to look after his or her own children well.
Some tips for maintaining good baby hygiene:
- In our climate babies can easily get cold if they are not dressed up and if exposed to pollution & temperature changes. It is easy to over clothe a baby, and difficult to judge how warm he is. Temperature is critical if the baby is very young, premature or small.
- If a baby is ill and feverish, it is sensible to keep him relatively cool rather than smother him with blankets and extra clothes.
- A baby needs bathing every day, in addition it is important to keep his skin clean in the nappy area and in the folds under his arms, round his neck and behind his ears. Both bathing and washing his face and nappy areas are good ways of keeping him clean and fresh. The water used should be warm and be careful while applying soap or oil. In case soap enters the mouth or eyes, don’t panic. Call your doctor and seek guidance.
- His nails need cutting carefully because of the sudden movements babies often make, use small scissors with blunt-ended blades.
- Cotton wool buds can be used if absolutely necessary to clean only the outer ears and the nostrils. It is not to be pushed in deeper, however, it is easy to hurt the baby if he moves, so you should hold him very firmly while doing this. Never poke anything up the ear canal, as a sudden movement may make you damage or even break the baby’s eardrum.
- Caring for a baby means giving him interesting things to do, paying attention to him besides feeding, washing and putting him to bed. A happy, relaxed, loving mother gets the most pleasure from her baby and he from her.
What is nappy rash? Why do babies get it?
Nappy rash is a very common problem. Most babies will get it at some point. It is not usually a disease, but just an irritation of the skin.
A wet or dirty nappy that has been left
touching the skin for too long is the most common cause of nappy rash.
This is especially true of children with diarrhoea. Human waste products
can turn into ammonia if the nappy isn't changed for a long time. Waste
products eat into the baby’s skin and starts to sting.
infection due to dampness under the nappy also causes nappy rash.
Everybody has fungi on their skin, but they only grow when conditions
are right. This has nothing to do with bad hygiene.
It is caused
by dampness or changes in the skin conditions. A fungal infection can be
quite unpleasant for the baby especially when the baby wets or dirties
The baby can also get a bacterial infection in the
area where the nappy is. This can happen if there has been a small
scratch on the baby’s skin or if his skin has been weakened by a
sustained rash, allowing bacteria to grow easily. The baby’s skin will
then be red, warm and swollen, and the baby may also get a fever. If the
baby has these symptoms, you need to contact your doctor.
skin condition, such as eczema, will only exacerbate the child’s nappy
rash. If it is left untreated, the baby’s skin falls off in big flakes,
and pus filled blisters may develop, then nappy dermatitis is also
likely to spread beyond the nappy region.
What can you do about a nappy rash?
Some babies only experience it once in a while, whilst others experience it time and again. No one knows the reason for these differences in the skin, but some babies just seem more sensitive than others.
The best way to treat an ordinary nappy rash, or nappy rash caused by a fungal infection, is to let it get some air. It is a good idea to leave the baby's nappy off for one hour a few times a day. It also helps if the baby’s nappy is changed often. When the rash is at its worst, it may be necessary to change the nappy up to 12 times a day. Dry the baby's bottom carefully after each change.
It is important to wash the baby’s bottom every time you change the nappy. If your baby has only wet his nappy, use warm water. If the baby has dirtied his nappy, use a little soap, but remember to always rinse in warm water to make sure there is no soap left on the baby’s skin.
If your baby has a nappy rash or a very sensitive skin it is a good idea to protect it with a thick barrier cream after every wash. To protect the red skin, you can use a zinc paste or barrier cream, which is available at the chemist: zinc forms a protective surface over the skin. Weak hydrocortisone creams can be used for severe cases, though you should consult your doctor first. If using cloth nappies, try changing to disposable nappies as they absorb more fluid from the baby’s skin.
What if the rash gets worse?
If the nappy rash does not get better in a few days, or gets worse, talk to your doctor. If the baby’s skin turns even more red, warm and swollen, and the baby gets a temperature, you should also contact a doctor immediately as the nappy rash may be caused by a bacterial infection that requires medical treatment.
How to tell the differences between nappy rashes?
An ordinary nappy rash is very red, but not bright red. The baby feels well in general, only feeling a sting when he is wet or dirty. The redness does not reach into the folds of the skin and disappears a few days after giving his bottom some air, using zinc cream and frequently changing nappies. Get advice from a nurse or doctor if the rash continues.
A fungal infection is bright red in colour. Check if the baby is red in the folds of the skin as well. The fungus can grow there too. Your baby will get very upset and cry when you change his nappy. Airing the bottom and frequent nappy changes is often not enough to improve the condition. If zinc paste for the child does not help, then seek medical help.
A bright red, very warm and swollen nappy rash may be caused by a bacterial infection. The baby may be in a bad mood and have a fever. If so, then contact a doctor.