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Kent Hospital
Kent Hospital

Instructions for Care of Newborns

Skin Care

  • Bathe your baby every two to three days. It is normal for the newborn to have dry, peeling skin. The skin may become too dry if bathed more often.
  • Clean your baby's diaper area with every diaper change. Warm water and a washcloth, or unscented baby wipes may be all that is needed. If soap is necessary, use a mild, unscented soap. The diaper area should be kept as dry as possible. This will help avoid diaper rash.
  • Use unscented, mild lotions on dry skin. If lotion is used on the baby's hands, cover the hands until the lotion is well absorbed. This will stop the baby from placing lotioned hands into their mouth.
  • Avoid baby powder. Powder dust may be harmful to the baby's lungs.
  • The uncircumcised penis does not require special care beyond routine bathing.
  • The circumcised penis should be covered with a petroleum base ointment and gauze dressing until healing is complete. Change the gauze with every diaper change. The circumcision area heals within five to seven days.
  • If your baby is a girl, clean her vaginal area and skin folds from front to back.

Umbilical Cord

  • The umbilical cord does not need special are. Clean the cord with warm water if necessary.
  • The umbilical cord stump will dry and fall off sooner if exposed to air.
  • The cord stump usually falls off within one to two weeks.
  • Do not give the baby a tub bath until after the cord falls off and the belly button has healed.


  • Newborns require frequent feeding. Be sure to burp your baby after each feeding.
  • The baby who is breastfed will nurse 8-12 times a day. The baby will have at least 6-10 wet diapers and four wet stools a day by one week of age.
  • The baby who is formula fed will eat every three to four hours. The baby will have at least 6-10 wet diapers and at least one stool every 24 hours.


  • The average newborn will sleep 12-18 hours every 24 hours.
  • Most newborns will not sleep through the night until they are at least 12 pounds or three months of age. Nighttime wakefulness is common.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants sleep on their backs. This reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Pillows and waterbeds are not safe for infants and should not be used.


  • Babies may cry when they are wet, hungry, tired, upset or lonely. You will soon know what the baby needs by the way the baby is crying. Do not be afraid of “spoiling” your baby by responding to every cry. Your care and comfort helps build trust and bonding between you and your baby.
  • Babies may cry up to six hours a day.
  • Babies usually cry less after eight weeks of age when they begin to make other sounds.

Car Seat

  • Rhode Island state law requires all infants up to one year of age or less than 20 pounds ride in a rear-facing care seat. Infants should never ride in the front seat.

Healthy Baby

  • A healthy baby feeds well, rests comfortably, has frequent wet and soiled diapers, and has periods of wakefulness. Your baby will need routine health care and vaccinations during the first year.
  • Call your baby's health care provider if the baby has any of the following symptoms:
    • Rectal temperature of 100.2 degrees or higher.
    • Crying that will not stop or a different sound to the cry.
    • Sleeping too little (less than 12 hours/24 hours).
    • Sleeping too much (more than 22 hours/24 hours).
    • Vomiting or more than usual “spit up” after feeding/ burping.
    • Poor feeding or refusal to feed.
    • Less than six wet diapers/24 hours.
    • No stool/24 hours.
    • Listless/weak appearing.
    • Yellow/tan coloring to skin. This may be infant jaundice. Infant jaundice is a common, temporary condition that requires health care provider follow up.
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