Step by step: how to bathe my baby?

Bathtime is a great way to transition from day to night. Providing it at the same time each day will help teach your baby that bedtime will soon come. Likewise, bathtime should be a quiet and relaxing time that slows the pace from the day’s activity and prepares one for sleep. Below are some tips and steps you can take to successfully bathe your little one:

• Choose where you will bathe your baby. It can be in the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or in a portable bath tub placed on a flat and safe surface. It’s best to choose a place that allows you to be in a comfortable position and at the height of your little one, this way you can provide greater security. If you choose the sink, be sure it’s large enough so your baby doesn’t get hurt. Similarly, be sure it’s very clean to avoid contaminating or irritating your child’s skin.

• Prepare 5 centimeters of water in the portable tub or sink at a warm and pleasant temperature. Use your elbow to check the temperature and modify accordingly. If the water is too hot it can burn your baby’s skin, be careful that it does not exceed 40 degrees Celsius (100 F).

• Meanwhile, prepare the materials needed and place them near you:

o Unscented baby soap.

o Pitcher or cup to pour water.

o Delicate cloth.

o Hooded towel.

o New diaper and clean clothes.

• Undress your baby and if necessary clean his bottom to avoid contaminating the water.

• Place your child in the water slowly, starting with his feet. While you do this, talk to him lovingly. The sudden change of environment can scare or surprise him and your tranquility will help soothe him.

• Remember to provide a steady hold when placing him in the tub, your baby can wince a little when he touches the water. Use one hand to support his neck and head and the other to put the body into the water.

• Make sure that most of his body is out of the water. To avoid getting him cold use the pitcher or cup to constantly wet your baby.

• Take the delicate cloth and begin to clean his face. It might not be necessary to use soap on a daily basis, just make sure all his face is clean and free of milk residue.

• Continue by softly massaging his skull making sure to avoid getting water into his ears. When rinsing, place your hand on his forehead to prevent water or soap from entering his eyes, nose and mouth.

• Now, clean the rest of his body. Start with the front of his body and then lift him slightly and continue with his back and buttocks. Remember that if you bathe him daily it might not be necessary to use soap every day.

• When you reach your baby’s genital area, clean thoroughly without soap. If your baby is a girl, clean between folds and rinse the vagina very well. If your baby is a boy, clean the penis and scrotum, but avoid moving the foreskin (skin at the tip of the penis) backwards. Remember not to soak your baby if he was circumcised and has not completely healed yet. If this is your case make sure to follow the instructions your doctor gave you.

• When done, carefully remove your baby from the water, and wrap his body with a soft towel. Then, take your little one to a comfortable surface, pat him dry and place a new diaper and clean clothes on your baby.

• Remember: never leave your baby unattended, not even for a second: accidents can happen in a blink of an eye!

My baby’s first sponge bath

During your baby’s first weeks of life, when he still has his umbilical cord stump attached, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing your baby with a sponge bath. To learn how to proceed, follow these instructions and you’ll be an expert in no time:

• Make sure the room where you’ll bathe your baby is at a comfortable temperature.

• Prepare all the necessary materials: Basin with warm water, gentle baby soap and shampoo (optional), a delicate wash cloth, cotton balls, a soft towel with a hoodie, a new diaper and clean clothing.

• Before you begin, gently narrate every step you take to help keep your baby calm during his bath.

• Undress your baby but leave the diaper on, wrap him with the towel and lay him over a safe surface.

• Head: dampen his hair and add a bit of soap or baby shampoo. Softly massage the scalp and rinse thoroughly, being careful not to expose his eyes to soap.

• Face: take a cotton ball, dip it in clean water and softly wipe one of your baby’s eyes from the tear duct out. Then, grab a new cotton ball and do the same with the other eye. For the rest of the face, take the wash cloth and delicately clean it starting with the nose mouth and chin all the way out to the ears.

• Neck and chest: Take the wash cloth, water and a bit of soap and clean the neck and chest making sure to thoroughly clean the folds and creases.

• Abdomen: gently wash your baby’s abdomen with the wash cloth. When you reach the umbilical cord stump, switch to a damp cotton ball free of soap, gently clean the stump and let air dry completely.

• Arms: wipe one arm at a time and be sure to clean each hand with soap.

• Back: place your baby on his belly making sure his cheek lies comfortably on the surface. With the damp cloth softly clean his back.

• Legs: clean each leg with soap and cloth making sure not to forget the area behind the knees and between each fold. If your baby moves his legs, don’t worry, gently talk to him.

• Diaper area: take a cotton ball and clean the area without soap. If your baby is a girl make sure to wipe from front to back. If your baby is a boy, clean between folds, the scrotum and penis without moving the foreskin (skin at the tip of the penis) back. If your child is circumcised follow your doctor’s specific instructions.

• All done! Your baby is nice and clean, make sure his whole body is completely dry. To do this gently pat him dry with the towel. Place a new diaper and clean clothes on your baby’s body and continue following your daily routine.

• Remember, babies do not need to be bathed daily. Talk to your pediatrician about bathtime and ask him about soap and shampoo use.

Care and cleaning of cuts and scratches

Cuts and scrapes in young children are fairly common. If your little one falls down and cuts himself there is no need to panic. Most cuts are superficial and minimally harm the outer layer of skin. When this occurs, a hug, kiss and proper cleanliness of the affected area with soap and water, is the best way to console your toddler.

In some cases, a fall or sharp object might provoke a deeper cut. If this occurs, remember to stay calm. The following tips will help you care for the cut properly while identifying if there is need to contact your doctor or go to the emergency room.

What to do?

• Apply pressure to the affected area to stop the bleeding. Certain body parts are more prone to bleed and require applying pressure for 10 minutes.

• After applying pressure, thoroughly wash the cut with soap and warm water.

• If you consider it necessary, apply an antibiotic cream recommended to you by your doctor to the cut.

• Cover the cut/scratch with an adhesive bandage or gauze if needed.

• If the wound is large or gets dirty, clean it every day, apply ointment and cover with a new bandage/gauze.

• When a scar forms, leave it to heal without cover.

What not to do?

• Don’t use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on the cut, besides causing pain, it can be damaging to the skin tissue.

• Be sure not to expose the cut in direct sunlight, as this can create a scar.

• Don’t use harsh or scented soap on the wound, instead use a gentle neutral soap.

• Don’t kiss the cut directly to avoid transmitting germs.

• Finally, let the scab fall on its own; picking or trying to eliminate it can leave a scar on the skin.

When to contact the doctor / visit the emergency room?

At the time of the accident:

• If the bleeding doesn’t stop despite applying direct pressure to the affected area for 10 minutes.

• If the cut has some dirt that can’t be cleaned.

• If the skin is split open.

• If the cut is deep or bone or tendons seem exposed.

After caring for the cut:

• If the cut looks infected (for example, if there’s pus).

• If swelling and pain increase after 48 hours.

• If after 10 days, the wound doesn’t heal.

Hopefully there is no need to contact the doctor and the accidents your little one encounters are minimal. Trust your instincts to handle the situation and know how to properly care for your little one.

How help my little one take medicines that taste bad?

We all know medications that make us grimace! Even as adults we don’t like to take them. So if we avoid them, imagine children! But despite their terrible flavor we cannot avoid them. Sometimes they are necessary for our health. Here we will talk about our favorite tips to help make this moment a little less stressful.

• Begin by telling your child you love him very much and that you’re giving this medication to make him feel good. Explain in simple terms why medicines are important and how they destroy viruses that make us sick and feel bad. Recognize that you know they don’t taste very good and that you understand him.

• Give your child a popsicle to numb his mouth, and provide a good taste in his mouth. He can taste the popsicle, take the medicine and keep enjoying the popsicle afterwards.

• Store the medication in the fridge to administer the medicine cold; it helps to reduce some of its bad taste.

• You can channel your inner Mary Poppins and give him a spoonful of sugar after the medication or with the medication.

• Sit with your little one, caress him and give him the medicine slowly.

• If your child needs to chew a pill you can crush it and give it to him on a spoon with ice cream, chocolate syrup, honey or maple syrup or any other food that doesn’t require chewing. It’s recommended to give a few tablespoons of the food on its own, and tell your little one to pass it without chewing, and so he will have sufficient practice for when you give him the spoonful with medicine.

• Give him a sweet after the medicine to reduce the aftertaste.

• Prepare a glass of milk, chocolate milk, juice or any drink he likes; he can take it right after the medicine.

• You can choose to give the medicine slowly in a syringe instead of a spoon. This way you can see which way he prefers to take it. If you put the syringe to the bottom of his cheek, he may swallow the medicine more easily. Try to avoid ejecting the medicine at the back of his throat to prevent nausea or suffocation.

Remember that it’s sometimes difficult to take medication. Sometimes, despite all attempts, young children don’t want to take it. If this is the case, don’t forget to show empathy. Tell your child that you understand him and apologize for the bad taste. Don’t try to trick him or become frustrated, instead use love, and praise his courage. Explain the reason why he has to take his medicine, and acknowledge his effort to take bad tasting medications. If your child still resists, you’ll have to give the medication by opening his mouth and inserting medicine gently, pointing the liquid to the cheek and not directly to his throat to avoid choking. Don’t forget that you can stir it with something sweet or a stronger taste to disguise its bad taste and apologize at the end. Finally, do not forget to contact your doctor if you need further help, he can help you identify what is best for your child.

How to reassure my baby after a vaccination?

Despite being extremely important and necessary, vaccines are painful and can increase anxiety in your child. Such is the pain that you will begin to notice that most babies will end up crying inconsolably after the doctor’s visit. What can you do to comfort your baby after his vaccines? Here are some tips:

• Wrap your baby in a blanket; place him on his side or on his back and quietly rock him back and forth to provide comfort.

• If your baby uses a pacifier, give it to him as suction provides comfort.

• You can give your child a small dose of sugared water before an injection, as studies have shown that it decreases pain after vaccination.

• Breast milk also helps. In fact, babies who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to suffer from fever after an injection.

• Talking calmly to your baby before and after the injection is also very beneficial. Explain to him calmly that injection is for his own good, to help maintain him safe, and because you love him so much.

• Hug him and embrace him. This is an excellent opportunity to cuddle with him and show him all your love.

• Use his favorite toy to distract him.

• Breathe deeply together. Hold your child to your chest and breathe deeply to convey your calmness.

• Ask your Doctor about anesthetic cream. If he recommends one, it must be applied before the vaccine, since it will take about an hour to start working.

• At home, gently move his leg or arm (depending on where the injection was administered) to reduce pain.

• Massage the skin around the area of injection to distract him from pain.

• Don’t forget to praise your baby for his courage, positive reinforcement is very important.

• If your baby suffers from a fever after his vaccines, remember to follow your doctor’s instructions. Most likely, he’ll give him paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce fever or pain.

That itches! Treating insect bites

Insect bites usually cause a reaction that makes your skin itch immediately. This occurs when the insect bites the skin and sucks a little blood from the body. The insects that can bite us include mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs. The mosquito bite causes a small red swelling in the affected area. Fleas and bedbugs can cause inflammation or even a blister in sensitive children. Now, the good news is that these insect bites can be treated at home. Below are various treatments you can apply.

Home Treatment

• Apply a mix of baking powder with water or calamine lotion on the swollen area.

• If it is a bedbug bite and it causes severe itching, ask your doctor whether you can apply 1% hydrocortisone cream (sold without prescription).

• Encourage your child not to scratch with distraction; scratching can hurt the skin and make it more prone to infection.

Bite Prevention

• Apply insect repellent moderately on exposed skin or on clothing when going out.

• Be sure to use a repellent containing 30% DEET or less if you’re applying directly on the skin. This type of repellent has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be used on children who are at least 2 months of age.

• Try not to apply it on his hands if your child sucks his thumb.

• Only apply repellent on exposed skin, but don’t apply it near his eyes or mouth.

• Don’t apply repellent on skin rashes or burns.

• If you have pets be sure they don’t have fleas, it will help to further prevent insect bites.

Ouch! Treating wasps or bee bites

Insect stings instantly cause a skin reaction most of the time, causing painful red swelling on the affected area. A wasp or bee stings hurt because their venom is injected into the skin. Although the pain is uncomfortable, most of the time it can be treated at home with the exception of an unexpected allergic reaction. Find out how to treat and prevent these painful stings.

Allergic reaction:

First and foremost, it is very important to know that for some children insect bites can cause allergic reaction. Contact your doctor or emergency number immediately if:

• Your little one cannot breathe or swallow (call emergency number).

• If he or she is covered, or starts to get covered with red bumps.

• Has 10 or more bites.

• The bee or wasp stung him or her inside his or her mouth.

• If you think your baby needs to be checked out.

At-home Treatment:

• First, check to see if there’s a black dot in the wound; if there is, it’s the bee’s stinger. To remove it, simply pull it out with your fingers or tweezers. Just try to be careful not to burst the venom sac at the end of the sting, because more venom can be released. If after taking the sting out you still see some fragments within the skin, don’t worry, they’ll come out alone.

• The next step is to thoroughly clean the affected area with soap and water.

• Then, apply a paste of baking soda and water on the sting for 20 minutes.

• If the pain persists, apply a cold compress over the affected area for 10 minutes.

• Finally, if your doctor has told you that your child can take ibuprofen, give your little one a dose of this medication to reduce pain and inflammation.

Prevention:

• Teach your child to detect bees and wasps’ nests and let him or her know he or she should not approach them.

• Dress your little one in protective clothing in areas where you know there are wasps and bees.

• Make sure that your child wears shoes when playing outside.

Ouch! Treatment for painful insect bites or stings

Insect bites or stings, like those of ants, certain caterpillars, and centipedes cause the skin to swell and itch, it can be painful and uncomfortable. Find out how to treat and prevent these painful bites.

At-home Treatment

• Rub the affected area with a cotton swab and apply a mixture of baking soda and water for 10 minutes.

• If the pain and inflammation persists, you can give your child a dose of ibuprofen to reduce the symptoms, only if your doctor has indicated that your little one can take it.

Bite and Sting Prevention

• If you see an anthill, don’t let your little one near it, and make it clear he or she should not approach it.

• Also talk to your little one about centipedes and certain types of caterpillars that could be in your area, so that he or she learns they can sting and should not touch them.

• Remember to use insect repellent on exposed skin when you go outside. Apply a repellent approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (these contain 30% DEET or less). Avoid applying repellent on your little one’s hands, eyes or mouth.

• You can also apply insect repellent on your little one’s clothes so that he or she is even more protected.

Bumps and bruises

At this stage of development your baby’s life involves a lot of movement. Any space is like an amusement park and he or she is ready to play! Since his or her gross motor skills continue improving and that’s not going to stop him or her from exploring all around, bumps and bruises are very common, and hard to avoid. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your little one’s inevitable bumps and bruises.

How do I take care of a bump or bruise?

Most bruises are not painful and usually heal with time, on their own. With bruises, bleeding occurs under the skin and therefore there is no risk of infection, but it may require care in the early stages, especially if your little one is in pain. Bruises change color as they heal, and pain at its touch reduces. If it’s red it may be more painful to the touch, but as it becomes purple or blue, and finally transitions to become green or yellow, pain will diminish. If your little one is uncomfortable, relieve inflammation with the following steps:

1. Apply a cold compress, frozen product pack or an ice bag over the bruise for about 10-15 minutes. At the same time, distract your little one cuddling with him or her and even telling him or her a story.

2. If after that your little one is still in pain, apply a little anti-inflammatory ointment over the affected area. Ask your doctor for an ointment recommendation, and keep it at home.

3. If the bruise is large, place a warm cloth over it 48 hours after applying the cold compress.

4. Bruises heal by themselves in about 2 to 4 weeks; after going through the entire range of colors that lead to healing.

5. Finally, keep in mind that children look towards us after a stumble to see our reaction. Try to remain calm and respond according to the situation. This way, your little one will feel safe and won’t be frightened. The best remedy for any bump or bruise is love; give your little one lots of hugs and kisses.

When should I contact my doctor?

Contact your doctor if your little one hit his or her head hard, if he or she fell from a particularly high place, or if the accident was of greater impact. Contact him or her if:

• The hit to the head has caused a bruise behind the ears or you think your little one might have a fractured skull.

• If the pain is strong and persists for more than 24 hours, even without touching the affected area.

• If your child has stopped using the body part where he or she hit him or herself and can’t move it.

• If the bruise seems unusual.

Finally, remember that tumbles are natural and most of the time harmless, so keep calm and trust your instincts to ensure your child’s well-being. Also remember that if the fall caused a scrape, it’s important to clean the area with warm water and then use soap on the area around the cut.

Help, my baby is a picky eater!

If you have a child older than 12 months of age, you may notice that his appetite has decreased, his food choices have become selective and he gets fussy when eating. This is very common and usually occurs when little ones begin to acquire and desire independence. Also, the mayor growth spurt little ones go through during their first year of life is beginning to decelerate. For this reason, some days you might notice your baby eats well and some days it seems that he doesn’t eat anything at all. You may believe that your little one is very fussy; however, most of the time it’s simply that his interest lies in playing and exploring, not on food.

His decrease in rhythm of growth and his interest in play are not the only factors that cause children to be picky; researchers in psychology and nutrition have identified that genes may also play a role in food rejection. The fear of trying new food may be due to the temperament of your child; however, this doesn’t mean that the behavior can’t be modified. So what should you do? First of all, take a deep breath and follow the next 11 tips to ensure that mealtime doesn’t become a battleground.

1. Remember to respect your child’s appetite. Sometimes he may be hungry and sometimes he may not. Don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t want to. Experts in nutrition and psychology have discovered that forcefully finishing all the food on the plate –despite not being hungry– can lead to eating disorders or obesity in the future.

2. Establish a routine and schedule for mealtime and try to stick to it. This way your child can expect meals at a specific time of the day.

3. Invite your child to the supermarket and describe the foods you see. Speak positively about them. Let your child choose fruits and vegetables with your help; this way you’ll be exposing him to healthy foods without him feeling the pressure to try them.

4. Be patient when it comes to serving new food. Try to encourage your little one to taste the food while describing it, instead of simply stating that it tastes good. Remember that the presentation is very important and can sway your little one to try or reject a food. Don’t give up; sometimes you’ll have to present the same food 7-15 times before he tries it.

5. When introducing a new food, remember to accompany it with a known healthy food that your child already likes. If he likes plain spaghetti, add some spaghetti with tomato sauce on the side and give him a taste, if he prefers not to eat the rest, don’t worry, at least he tasted it or got some exposure.

6. Minimize distractions and keep mealtimes brief so your little one can resume playing soon after.

7. Offer food in various presentations: if you served raw carrots, now serve them cooked. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes, or choose to offer frozen peas. Sometimes these simple changes can make your little one enjoy a previously rejected food.

8. If your child refuses a meal, don’t rush to prepare a new one. Instead try to always serve various options, amongst them a food you know he likes.

9. Make sure that the time you sit at the table is pleasant, and have your little one see you eating the same healthy foods with pleasure.

10. Don’t feed your little one too much milk or snacks between meals as this can interfere with his hunger.

11. Finally, don’t offer dessert as a reward. This will only foster the belief that the dessert is more desirable than food.

Hopefully, these tips will help maintain peace at mealtime. Remember that you have control over when, and what foods you offer your little one, and your child has control over eating it or not. Give him time and continue offering healthy food choices every meal. If you’re worried about the quantity of food that he eats, keep a food diary. This can give you an objective perspective of his overall intake. If you believe that your child’s health is at risk due to lack of food, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. He can give you further assistance and if necessary prescribe a dietary supplement.