Skin, nails and baths

Bath time is a great time to bond with your baby! Here are a few tips to caring for your baby’s skin and nails and how to make bath time safe.


Yellow-colored skin is called jaundice and occurs in many healthy babies. The color comes from iron waste in your baby’s body as she converts from fetal red blood cells to adult red blood cells. You can see the yellow color first in the whites of the eyes and face. As the jaundice worsens, it moves down baby’s body onto the trunk and legs. Jaundice begins around the second day of life, peaks at day five or six, and slowly resolves over the next few weeks.


Trim your baby’s nails, as needed, to prevent him from scratching himself. Use an emery board, clippers or small scissors, but be careful not to cut the skin.


Baths can be daily as part of the bedtime routine. As long as you always keep baby’s face, hands and bottom clean, you may decide to bathe only every few days.

Sponge-bathe your infant until the umbilical cord falls off. Applying hypoallergenic moisturizing cream after bath time is optional.

Once the umbilical cord falls off and the bellybutton has healed, you can choose to use a small bath, meant for a baby. Ensure that the water in the tub is warm but not hot before starting your baby’s bath. Test the temperature with your elbow or with the inside of your arm. Pat baby dry as soon as you’re finished bathing.

Never leave your baby alone in a bath. Even an inch of water can be deadly for a newborn. If you have to step away, even for a moment, take the baby with you.

Newborn care

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What is jaundice?

When babies are born, it’s not uncommon for their skin or eyes to yellow, which is called jaundice. In this video, Dr. Pilar Bradshaw with Eugene Pediatric Associates explains what causes jaundice and how it is treated.