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Mum's health.

Washing

You don't have to bath your baby this week, although you might like to if your midwife is around to show you how.

But you should 'top and tail' him every day, and this means washing his face and bottom. Use cotton wool and warm water (boiled and cooled is best but tap water is OK).

You can also use cotton wool to dry him, but you don't need any soap or shampoo. Begin by wiping his eyes, a separate piece of cotton wool for each.

Then clean the rest of his face with wet cotton wool balls - babies get milk and sick under their chins and behind their ears (don't wash inside the ears though).

You can also clean your baby's scalp - he'll probably have so little hair that you can dry him off in seconds using more cotton wool balls. And if your baby has a lot of hair, then use a hairdryer on a low setting - he'll probably enjoy it.

Make sure his face is dry before you wash his bottom so that he doesn't feel cold - and use separate bowls for his bottom and face water.

When washing your baby’s bottom, begin by using the old nappy to wipe away poo, then clean around his bottom and creases with wet cotton wool balls. Once again, dry him with cotton wool.

Baby boys: Wipe his testicles and penis, but don't pull back the foreskin.

Baby girls: Always wipe her from front to back so that you don't transfer bacteria from her bowels to her bladder. Wipe her genitals, but don't pull open the labia to clean inside.

Cord Stump

Newborns are usually sent home from hospital with a plastic clamp on their belly buttons which seals off the umbilical cord.

The newly tied cord can look quite raw, and it may be a bit moist - this is normal. After a few days the stump dries up and turns black, then will drop off between one and four weeks, revealing a brand new belly button.

In the meantime, fold the front of the nappy down to stop it rubbing the cord.

You should also check the smell of the cord stump - mildly unpleasant is normal, but if the stump starts to smell bad, this could indicate an infection, especially if it oozes, or if the surrounding skin becomes red and hot. See your GP straight away if this happens.

It's OK to bath your baby before the cord stump drops off, just dry the cord carefully afterwards with clean tissues and cotton wool.

Keep the stump clean by gently dabbing it every other day or so with cotton wool and water, and dry it carefully, again with clean cotton wool. Although the stump looks very sensitive, touching it won't hurt your baby.

When the stump eventually drops off, there may be slight bleeding and it can take a couple of weeks for the new belly button to dry out completely.

If it remains moist and smelly for longer than this then mention it to your doctor or midwife.