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By the third day of life:

  • Formula-fed newborns should have at least 6 wet diapers per day.
  • Breastfed babies will have 6 wet diapers per day by the 4th or 5th day.

If you are unsure whether the disposable diaper is wet, put a tissue in the front of the diaper and check for wetness.

Bowel movements

Breastfed babies have soft, loose and seedy, mustard colored stools. During the 1st month to 6 weeks, it is normal for these babies to have 8 to 10 stools daily.
Formula-fed babies may have bowel movements less frequently, sometimes only once every 4 to 5 days.

Changing diapers

To avoid diaper rash or discomfort, check your baby’s diaper:

  • Before feeding and upon waking
  • If he or she is crying other than at feeding times

If your baby’s diaper is soiled:

  • Change the diaper as soon as possible.
  • Cleanse the soiled area with warm water or alcohol-free / fragrance-free wipes.
  • Wipe from front to back, paying attention to skin folds and creases.
  • Fold the diaper down to expose the umbilical cord (this allows the cord to dry and fall off).

Care of genitalia: females

  • Wipe front to back, once with each wipe.
  • Girls may have a thick white mucous or slightly bloody discharge that may last two to three weeks.
  • A white waxy material may appear in the creases of the labia; this is vernix and is normal.
  • Don’t be afraid to gently wash the area to remove the vernix.

Care of genitalia: males

Wipe front to back, lifting the scrotum to cleanse. Dry under the scrotum to prevent a rash.

Care of the uncircumcised penis

The uncircumcised penis requires no special care other than gently cleansing with warm, soapy water.

Do not attempt to pull back the foreskin until instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.

Care of the circumcised penis

  • It’s normal for the area to ooze a small amount of blood immediately after circumcision.
  • The first dressing is wrapped around the penis and should be removed within 24 hours.
  • Clean the penis with warm water and a mild soap.
  • Apply a coating of petroleum jelly to the penis to protect it from urine and to prevent it from sticking to the diaper until it is healed (five to seven days).
  • It’s normal to see a yellowish film over the penis as it heals; however, report to your healthcare provider any crusty or thick, yellow drainage from the penis.
  • Check for urination; call your healthcare provider if your baby does not urinate within 12 hours after the circumcision.

Diaper rashes

  • Diaper rashes are very common but follow these steps to better manage them:
  • Change diapers often to decrease moisture.
  • Leave baby undiapered when possible to expose his or her bottom to the air.
  • Vary diaper brands.
  • After washing baby’s bottom, apply a thin layer of ointment or petroleum jelly to block skin contact from irritating urine and stool.
  • Call your healthcare provider if the baby develops a rash that weeps, crusts, blisters or that is associated with fever or illness.

Updated June 19, 2018

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