Taking care of your newborn’s diaper area is crucial, but it can be overwhelming. Learn crucial tips for baby genital hygiene and understand the changes in their genitalia after birth.
Don’t worry; taking care of your baby’s privates is a lot less complicated than you would assume. We talked to three pediatricians to answer all of your questions about how to clean your baby’s genitalia and how to tell if something is wrong.
Tips for Cleaning in General
Maryann Buetti-Sgouros, M.D., FAAP, chair of the department of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital, says that when it comes to cleaning your baby’s genital area, the key is to keep things simple. “There are a lot of products, like wipes and special creams, for newborn genital care, but most of it can be done with just water and a washcloth,” she says. “All done!”
Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says it’s fine to use a little soap, but she suggests you wash off any remaining soap. You should avoid baby wipes and soaps that are flavored, perfumed, or full of harsh chemicals because they can irritate a newborn’s sensitive skin.
How Should You Clean the Penis of Your Baby?
You may be wondering how to clean your baby’s penis and take care of the area if they were born with one, especially if he or she has been injured. Again, the rule of thumb is to be gentle and simple. Denise Kerut, M.D., a doctor at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, says that you should use warm water and a mild soap to clean the penis area in the bath. You can clean up with baby wipes after going to the bathroom.
Dr. Kerut says cleaning well after going to the bathroom is important. “Always try to keep stool away from your urethra,” she says. “Poop has bacteria in it, and those bacteria can get into the bladder through the urethra and cause an illness that can hurt your kidneys. You should try to avoid this as much as possible.”
Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says the best way to clean a new circumcision is with a washcloth and warm water. To keep poop from getting into your urine system, wipe from the front to the back. “During the first two weeks after the procedure, the circumcised penis should be cleaned with the most gentle touch,” she says. She says that it’s normal for the wound to look a little swollen and reddened as it heals. Normal is also a little bit of yellow stuff at the place where the circumcision was done.
Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says to put a little petroleum jelly on a penis that has been cut so that it doesn’t stick to the diaper. She says, “Keep it simple. There’s no need to move the area around too much to spread it around.” “The circumcised penis will be completely healed in about two weeks.”
Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says that a penis that hasn’t been cut doesn’t need any special care. She also says that you should never pull your baby’s foreskin back. “Keep it simple and leave it alone,” she tells him. A wet rag is a good way to clean. In the area of the foreskin, you may sometimes see a white, thick substance. “This stuff, called smegma, is common and doesn’t need to be fixed,” said Dr. Buetti-Sgouros.
How Do You Clean a Baby’s Genitalia?
Leah Alexander, M.D., a pediatrician and expert for Mom Loves Best, says that some parents get nervous when they have to clean an infant’s mouth. She says, though, that it’s important to clean around the folds of the lips. “This keeps the skin from getting irritated by urine or stool that might get “trapped” in the folds,” says Dr. Alexandra. “A wet, soft washcloth can be used to wipe the vulva, labia, and area around the vaginal opening during diaper changes and bath time,” she says.
Is It Normal for Genitalia to Be Red and Swell Up?
As Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says, it’s normal for your child to have some swelling after being cut, but it shouldn’t last longer than two weeks. Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says that it is normal for babies born with female genitalia to have a little bit of swelling in the area of the genitalia. This happens because the estrogen from the person giving birth can change the way the baby’s body works.
In addition to making the genitalia grow, estrogen from the pregnant person can make the woman bleed a little bit in the genitalia. Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says that this is normal and fine. “There’s nothing like a mini-newborn stage to scare a new parent who doesn’t know what to expect,” she says. “Nothing wrong… breathe!”
What About Discharge?
Dr. Alexander says that there are times when discharge is normal. During the first two weeks of life, it’s common for kids born with female genitalia to have small amounts of white discharge. Again, chemicals from the birthing parent can cause this discharge to sometimes look like blood. “This is nothing to worry about, and it will work itself out,” says Dr. Alexander. However, you may want to talk to your child’s doctor if the discharge is yellow or lasts for a long time.
How Do You Know If Something Is Wrong?
Even though diaper rashes are common, you should probably talk to your doctor about them, especially if diaper creams you can buy at the store aren’t helping. “If a rash has satellite lesions, which are red, round spots spread over an area, it’s probably a yeast infection, and you’ll need to get Nystatin cream from your doctor,” says Dr. Kerut. “Yeast grows best in damp, dark places, so try to keep the diaper area as dry and open to the air as possible. Also, you should change the baby’s diapers often.”
In rare cases, your baby’s private area may have a health problem, but Dr. Buetti-Sgouros says that these are the exceptions to the rule.
Possible Genital Problems in a Newborn:
- Bleeding at the place where the circumcision was done.
- Healing takes longer at the spot of the circumcision.
- Signs that urinating is making you feel bad.
- A fever over 100.4F.
- An itchy rash that keeps getting worse.
If your kid has any of the above symptoms or if you think something is wrong, you should call your child’s pediatrician. Your child’s doctor will be glad to help, and you will also feel better.