1. Newborns
  2. Health & daily care
  3. Hygiene & keeping clean

Hygiene and daily care for babies

0-18 months

Cleaning baby's face and head

With clean hands, moisten a cotton wool ball with warm water and gently clean your newborn’s eyelids, wiping from inner eye to outer eye. Use a different piece of cotton wool for each eye.

Read more about cleaning eyes, ears and nose.

Use a cotton wool ball to wipe behind and around the outside of baby’s ears. Be careful not to stick anything inside baby’s ear – this can cause damage.

After washing baby’s hair, dry it by gently moving the towel back and forward across the scalp.

Clean baby’s gums and tongue using water and a washcloth after morning and evening feeds.

Wipe front and back of teeth using water and a clean washcloth. At 12 months use a soft infant toothbrush to brush teeth with water at least twice a day.

Nails and umbilical cord

Use special baby nail scissors or an emery board. Work with someone else if it helps – one holds the newborn as the other trims the nails. You can try trimming your baby’s nails when he’s asleep, in the highchair or while singing a favourite song.

Wash your hands before handling your baby’s umbilical cord. Clean the area with water. Make sure the stump is dry after bathing. To help the stump heal faster, avoid covering it with plastic pants and nappies. Fold nappies away from the stump if possible. Avoid touching the cord stump as much as possible.

Genital care

When bathing your baby girl, wet a cotton ball, hold her legs apart and wipe between the labia with the cotton ball. Start at the front and gently wipe backwards.

For baby boys, gently rinse the genital area with water while bathing.

Read more in our article on genital care.

Give your baby some ‘nappy-free’ time, and air her skin to prevent nappy rash.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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