Baby hygiene is a natural concern for many new parents. In order for a baby to be able to develop a healthy immune system, there must be some contact with germs. Knowing how much exposure to germs is safe can feel like an overwhelming task to many parents. Some of the best tips for baby hygiene include keeping the diaper area clean and dry, trimming the baby's nails in a safe way that helps to prevent infection, and practicing proper tooth and gum care.
Many new parents may be tempted to use antibacterial soaps and household cleaning products in an effort to keep the baby's surroundings as free from germs as possible. While this is a natural response, it could actually lead to health problems, especially allergies, in the future. By occasionally coming into contact with small amounts of germs, the immune system naturally begins to create a defense system that can fight off potential disease. Of course, keeping the baby's environment clean is an important part of baby hygiene, but the use of antibacterial products is seldom necessary.
One of the most obvious concerns about baby hygiene involves the diaper area. Diapers should be changed as soon as possible once they become wet or soiled in order to prevent infections and diaper rash. Little girls should always have the genitals cleaned from front to back so that bacteria from the stool is not introduced into the vagina, as this could lead to a urinary tract infection. Sometimes diaper rashes occur, even with the best baby hygiene, and many over-the-counter diaper creams are available to treat this common problem.
A sometimes overlooked part of proper baby hygiene is trimming the nails. If not properly trimmed, the baby may scratch herself, or dirt and germs could hide underneath the nails, potentially leading to various types of infections. A rounded set of nail clippers made especially for babies is the safest method of trimming the nails. Many parents find this tedious chore much easier when the baby is sleeping. The nails should never be bitten off by the parent, as this increases the risk of injury and infection.
Tooth and gum care is an especially important part of baby hygiene. Dental care should begin even before a baby gets his first tooth. After each feeding, the parent or caregiver should wrap a small piece of gauze around the finger and gently clean the gums. Once teeth start to appear, a baby toothbrush and toothpaste formulated specifically for infants and toddlers can be used.