EYES To clean baby’s eyes, soak a clean, soft washcloth or cotton ball in warm water and gently dab around eyes. Carefully wipe from the inside corner going out. Avoid using soap as this may irritate the baby’s eyes. Use a different cotton ball or a different part of the washcloth to clean the other eye.
Some newborns take two weeks from birth for their tear ducts to fully function. Warm compresses and gentle massages applied to the area usually help open them up.
EARS All you need is a clean washcloth or cotton balls to wipe behind baby’s ears and around the outer lobe of each ear during baths. Don’t try to clean the inner canal of your baby’s ears. Ear wax actually protects the ear canal and dries up to form little balls that fall out on their own when yawning, chewing, or swallowing.
NOSE Babies often have thick, dried-up secretions in the nose, which usually clear up when baby is given a bath. However, if your baby’s nose is stuffed to a point where there is breathing difficulty, there are two things you can do to clear it up:
1. Use saline nose drops. Saline drops help keep nasal tissues moist, relieve nasal irritation, and help obtain thick or dried mucus to drain. You can purchase them without prescription in drug stores, or make your own.
Mix ¼ teaspoon of salt and 8-ounce cup of warm water, stirring until dissolved. Transfer the solution into a clean covered jar or bottle and use a medicine dropper to apply. Remember to boil the water first and keep the bottle and dropper sterile. Make a fresh batch each time your child gets sick, or every three days if needed.
2. Suction your child’s nose. If the saline solution doesn’t work, try using a pediatric nose suction tool two to three times a day to clear the mucus. Remember to suction your baby’s nose 15-20 minutes before feeding. Suctioning after baby has been fed may cause vomiting.
Squeeze air out before inserting the bulb aspirator into the nostril. Gently place the tip of the bulb into a nostril and let the air come back into the bulb. The suction will pull the mucus out of the nose into the bulb. Squeeze mucus out of bulb into a tissue. Repeat with other nostril. Gently wipe off mucus around the nose with tissue to prevent skin irritation.
Don’t forget to separate the plastic tip and the rubber bulb of the aspirator before washing them in cool, soapy water. Squeeze the bulb several times to clean out the mucus. Rinse well.
Dr. Consuelo Teodoro, pediatrician, Cardinal Santos Medical Center Baby and Child Care, by Benjamin Spock, M.D. and Steven Parker, M.D.