All posts by Baby Knowledge

How to cut your newborns nails

Nails typically need cutting within a week of your baby being born, they grow whilst in the womb and can be quite sharp or jagged. It can be quite nerve racking cutting them for the first time and you will worry about hurting your little one. Here is how to cut your newborns nails in a way that mitigates against hurting her, cutting her skin or causing infection:

Step by step guide to cutting nails

  • The best time to do it is after a bath when your newborn is asleep, the nails will be much softer and your newborn will offer less resistance.
  • For the first few times you may find it helpful to have someone else hold his/her arm steady so you can fully focus on what you are doing.
  • You can use baby nail scissors, a nail file or baby nail clippers – personally I prefer to use scissors.
  • For the first few times, rather than following the shape of your newborns finger tips, you can cut the nails straight.
  • You can then use a nail file to file away the sharp edges.
  • You should hold your baby’s hand so her palm is facing upwards and angle the scissors away from the skin.
  • Pull down on the pads of your baby’s skin to help you to avoid snipping it.
  • Never cut down the sides of the nails or cut them too short.
  • What if I accidentally cut the skin?

    First of all, don’t panic. You are not the first person who will have done this. Your little one will be in pain but the important thing is to keep it clean and stop the bleeding. You can do this with a clean, wet cotton wool ball, apply gentle pressure to the affected area until it has stopped bleeding. You should never put a plaster or bandage on baby’s fingers as this could come off in her mouth when sucking them and end up choking her.

    If you have a fussy baby, it could be a battle every time you try to cut her nails. Just remember, sometimes you have to be ‘cruel’ to be kind. 2-3 minutes of you cutting her nails is much better than her scratching her face several times throughout the day and night. Trust me, she will soon get used it.

    References: webmd,NHS Bradford

    How to care for the umbilical cord

    The umbilical cord, which once supplied your baby with oxygen rich blood and nutrients is surplus to requirements once you have given birth.
    Once the cord has been cut (clamped and snipped), your newborn will be left with a stump which is still connected to her navel (belly button). This stump of tissue needs to be cared for properly to avoid infection.

    Keeping it clean

    You should keep your newborns umbilical cord stump clean but also ensure it is kept dry and aired regularly. I personally recommend only top and tailing (avoiding baths) until the stump had fallen off.

  • Do not use rubbing alcohol or soaps to clean your baby’s umbilical stump unless you have been specifically instructed to by a GP or health visitor/midwife
  • Use clean warm water and some cotton wool balls
  • Gently rub the wet cotton wool ball around the stump, removing any dirt or grime
  • Dry the area by gently patting it, placing an absorbent cloth on it or by fanning it with a piece of paper
  • Day to day care

    There are four things you can do to help the stump fall off naturally whilst minimising the risk if infection.

  • Ensure the area is completely dry
  • Allow plenty of air to it
  • Fold your newborns nappy under the stump so it doesn’t aggravate it
  • Don’t be tempted to help it along its way if it looks ready to fall off – even if it appears to be hanging on by a single thread!
  • What are the signs of an infection?

    If your baby has an infection in this area, you will need to get it treated as soon as you can to prevent it from spreading.The signs of an infection are:

  • There is a discharge which is quite smelly
  • It continues to bleed/li>
  • There is yellow pus coming out if it
  • The surrounding area is red and appears swollen
  • Always contact your GP if you are not sure
  • There has been a lot if misleading information over the years, “Use rubbing alcohol”, “Don’t bathe them”, “Do bathe them” “Wash it at least once a day” etc. The general consensus seems to be, keep it clean and keep it dry and touch it as little as possible. If you do this, you can’t go far wrong.

    NHS Choices

    When do babies eyes change colour?

    My first daughter had deep brown eyes when she was born and to be honest, I was shocked as I was expecting them to be lighter, my second born had the brightest blue eyes. Now, aged 5 and 2 (almost) they both have bluey/green eyes. They obviously changed colour at some point but I can’t remember exactly when. Here is what the experts say:

    What determines eye colour?

    Eye colour is determined by our genetic make up long before we are born, and whilst you may expect 2 blue eyed parents to have a blue eyed baby, it really isn’t as simple as that. As a rule, the brown eyed gene is the most dominant and this is why children born in Asia are typically brown eyed, we don’t carry just one eye colour gene though. Someone with hazel eyes could have a brown and grey gene whilst someone with blue eyes could have the blue and grey gene. In this instance, it could be possible for your baby to have any of the above mentioned colours, it depends what the dominant gene is. If the brown gene is inherited, your child will most likely have an eye colour that is a shade of brown (hazel for example). If two brown genes are inherited, it is likely your baby will have dark brown eyes.

    Why do they change colour?

    Caucasian children are usually born with blue eyes, it is only when cells develop and produce melanin that eye colour can be determined (as well as skin and hair colour).

    When will I know my baby’s true eye colour?

    Most experts are of the opinion that eyes only get darker over time and not lighter, this depends on the levels of melanin being produced (more melanin equates to darker eyes) . Generally speaking, by 12 months you can expect the eye colour your child has will be what he/she has for life (although it is possible for other events such as a trauma to affect eye colour). In some very rare cases your child’s eye colour could change up to the age of 36 months.

    My view: Researching information for this post has been very interesting but has also highlighted to me that we still have lots to learn about the role genetics has in determining eye colour. I was surprised to learn it is more likely for 2 brown eyed parents to have a blue eyed baby than it is for 2 blue eyed parents to have a brown eyed baby, in simple terms; as we all carry two eye colour genes and brown is the most dominant, it is unlikely that a blue eyed person will carry the brown gene but, two brown eyed parents could carry the less dominant blue eyed gene. So, what colour eyes will your baby have? Who knows! Let me know if you have been surprised by your baby’s eye colour!

    References: eye doctor guide

    Help! My baby is a cone head

    Following a vaginal delivery it is not unusual for a newborns head to be slightly elongated. In fact, the bones inside your little ones skull are intentionally moveable, without this, it would be almost impossible to give birth naturally.

    How long will it last

    The elongated or cone shaped head caused by a vaginal delivery usually returns to a traditional head shape after around 48 hours. There is nothing you need to do to encourage this, it happens completely naturally. As well as the bone structure being mobile and allowing the skull to change shape, it may also be that your newborn has some slight swelling on the top of her head, this again is completely normal and is caused by fluids being squeezed towards the scalp during a natural delivery. This too will resolve itself within 48 hours.

    What if it lasts longer than 48 hours

    If after 48 hours you notice some lumps on the top of your baby’s skull, it may be that a collection of blood is present between your baby’s skull and the lining. This is known as cephalohematoma. It usually presents itself on day two and lasts for around 3 months, it isn’t something that needs to be treated or anything to worry about but is always worth mentioning to your health visitor, even if it’s just for additional reassurance.

    My opinion: Whilst pregnant you are more than likely imagining a beautiful looking, perfect little boy or girl and it can be a shock when you see a bruised, bloody, cone head baby in front of you. Do not worry as this is completely normal, if you are concerned what people think then you should remind yourself that anyone who has given birth will not only know this is temporary but will probably have expected your newborn to look like this. Your baby is amazing and perfect and beautiful.

    A guide to baby nap time

    How much sleep your baby needs during the day is dependant on her age; as your newborn grows she will gradually need less nap time, it is important you don’t let your little one get over tired as this often results in an extremely hard to settle, tired little monster!

    Establishing a routine

    Babies respond well to routine as the visual and audible clues you give them helps them to understand and expect what is likely to happen next. This helps them to feel secure in their new world. Ideally, your baby’s day should begin at around 7 o’clock and end at 7 o’clock. If your baby wakes earlier than this then she should go to bed earlier in the evening – beware, putting her to bed later does not necessarily mean she will sleep in later! The amount your little one needs to sleep during the day and the number of naps needed is decreased little by little as she grows.
    How many naps a day? For the first few weeks I would suggest letting your baby sleep when she is tired, the process of ‘being born’ is absolutely exhausting. You of course need to make sure you wake your newborn for regular feeds every 3-4 hours. Children tend to need naps up to the age of 3 or sometimes even 4 or 5. A good night time routine will compliment a good day time routine. In fact, it is rarely possible to have one without the other.

  • Newborn (0-4 weeks) : Allow your newborn to sleep when she is tired, this will help you to establish a routine that suits her needs rather than goes against her, and avoid rocking! (unless you want to rock her to sleep for the next 18 months)! A newborn is usually asleep more during the day than awake, ensure you wake her for feeds and try to establish a night time routine as soon as possible.
  • 4-8 weeks : Now she is out of the newborn stage you will start to notice a pattern to her day time sleep behaviour. This should form the base of your routine. It is likely your little one will need 3-4 naps a day, ranging from 40 minutes to 2-3 hours. You will probably find she gets tired after being awake for around 2-3 hour stretches. If you are looking to establish a good day time routine, the ‘feed, play, sleep’ routine is very popular as it is structured around your little ones needs and stops her from building an association with being fed and going to sleep.
  • 8-12 weeks – You and your baby will know the routine now and you will have become accustomed to her ‘clues’ that she is tired (rubbing her eyes, pulling her ear or being a bit tearful etc). You may find she has one big nap and two shorter ones but the length can differ depending upon the individual. Remember: there is no need to keep the house quiet during daytime naps, the more noise your baby can sleep through the better! Average nap time needed: 3-5 hours per day.
  • 3-6 months : There are some huge developmental milestones for your little one during this period, however, 3 naps a day- one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one late afternoon is still the perfect routine. If the late afternoon sleep is having a negative impact on your baby’s bed time then try putting her down a little earlier or waking her up after 40 minutes or so.
  • 6-9 months : As your child’s development continues, she may be more interested in crawling, sitting up or even pulling herself up than going to sleep. It is not uncommon for the late afternoon sleep to be dropped within this age range. Average nap time: 2-4 hours per day
  • 9-12 months : As your baby approaches 12 months you will find the length of time she naps for has reduced drastically when compared to 6-9 months ago. She is likely to be able to stay awake for between 4-6 hour stretches. 2 naps a day is the ideal – one in the morning and one early afternoon but it is not unusual for 12 month olds to only need one nap or to still need 3 on some occasions.