Grooming Baby: Keeping Your Little One Clean and Comfortable

Making Baby Comfortable

Q: Let's move on to fingernails. What's the best way to keep baby's nails short and snag-free?

A: It is recommended that they either be filed down with a gentle nail file or clipped with manicure scissors. Try not to cut them too close to the skin, and try not to use nail clippers. Even though they're really careful, I've seen too many parents clip off the tip of their baby's finger, which isn't surprising considering that babies are usually pretty squirmy. I think filing with a gentle nail file is really the way to go.

Q: Part of keeping baby comfortable ties in to how you bundle up your little bundle of joy. What do parents need to know about how to dress their baby?

A: Dress your baby the same way you dress yourself. If it's winter, you want to make sure that baby has an undershirt on and his head is covered. If the house is warm, he might just need the undershirt and one other layer of clothing. If not, he may need more. In summer, one layer of light clothing will do. Whatever level of dress would keep you at a comfortable temperature is the proper level of dress for your baby. They don't feel cold more than adults, so they don't need to be bundled.

One thing I see a lot of parents do is put a big old wool blanket over their baby's head when they go out in winter, thinking that will help keep the wind and cold off of baby. I'm more worried about suffocation when I see that. If you must cover baby's head, use a light receiving blanket. And be sure to check baby frequently to make sure he or she is OK.

Q: What about footwear? Do high-end shoes help baby's feet, or will a cheap pair of kicks do the trick?

A: A lot of parents ask if babies need to wear shoes at all. The answer is yes, and the reason is that shoes help keep baby's feet warm and help prevent them from injuring themselves if they step on something sharp. But hard-bottomed shoes are no better than soft shoes and in fact they can be dangerous because they can be slippery on wood or linoleum floors. So rather than spending $30 or $50 on a pair of shoes, just buy an inexpensive pair of sneakers that have a good grip and will keep baby's feet covered. They don't need special arches or ankle support; you just need to make sure they fit well and are not pinching your baby's toes. And when baby is learning to walk, it may actually help for him or her to be barefoot. Wearing shoes can sometimes dull the sensations that help babies learn to keep their balance.

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Christina Breda Antoniades is a freelance writer and mother of 9-month-old Vasili. She has written extensively for including the Travel Channel Online and Discovery Health Online. In her nine months as a new mommy, Christina has come to learn the joys and pains of parenthood.