October 4, 2019 by Garry Howard
At the hospital after your baby's birth, you will likely have been told the essentials of bathing a baby. Once you're home, you'll quickly discover that babies need more than the occasional bath. We answer some of the most frequently answered questions about baby grooming, from the first time you brush baby hair to their very first visit to the dentist.
Do you need a baby hair brush?
Babies have delicate scalps and very thin, soft hair. A standard hair brush isn't suitable, and you'll instead need a baby hair brush with very soft and flexible bristles. You can brush baby hair daily, though it's not always necessary.
How do I look after my baby's hair?
When your baby is very young, their hair requires very little care. You can wash it just with water, gently rubbed onto their scalp, or you might choose to use a delicate no-tears baby shampoo. Baby's hair does not need washing regularly, and using too much shampoo can be bad for the hair as it removes the moisture that hair needs. Because of this, when it comes to babies, shampoo should really only be used if the baby's hair is particularly dirty or matted. As they grow, their hair becomes thicker and more like adult hair. At this stage, you can start using shampoo routinely once or twice a week.
Once your little one is slightly older, you might decide to take them for their first hair cut. Many people don't take their child for a hair cut for at least the first year, and often wait much longer to give them a good chance to grow a full head of hair.
If you’re worried about your baby’s first trip to the barbers, then you needn't be concerned. The first hair cut can be a special occasion for parents, who will often save a lock of their baby's first hair, and our little one’s first trim will keep their hair in top condition, removing the soft and wispy baby hair at the ends, and can allow you to begin to develop their toddler style.
Do I need to brush my baby's gums?
Your baby's first teeth may appear at any time. Some babies are born with teeth or get them in their first few months of life, whilst others may not get their first teeth until they're closer to a year old. Even before your baby gets their first teeth through their gums are surprisingly strong and are even able to tackle hard foods like raw carrots once they are weaning.
Newborn gum care will vary from child to child, based on their teething status and although brushing your baby's gums isn't entirely necessary, it is a good habit to get into. As soon as you see signs of their first tooth, you will need to be brushing regularly. A daily gum-brushing routine can help you to spot any changes and the first signs of emerging teeth.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't always need to buy specific baby or child toothpaste. Babies and toddlers can often use adult toothpaste - just check the label to make sure that it's suitable for children under 6.
When your baby is very young, you might like to use a finger toothbrush for easy control. As they get older, you can then move on to a baby and toddler electric toothbrush for a more thorough clean. These electric toothbrushes are made to be gentle yet effective when cleaning your little one’s teeth.
Are baby nail clippers necessary?
You'll be amazed at just how tiny a baby's fingernail is. Their fingernails are incredibly small and relatively soft, which means that they're quite hard to cut. Don't beat yourself up if you accidentally snip at baby's finger ever so slightly. Many parents do, as this is a very delicate job.
You can use baby nail clippers, or to make this task a little easier and perhaps more accurate, baby nail scissors for this baby grooming task. Different people have different preferences, so there’s no harm in picking up both types and getting to grips with which one you prefer. You can also use a nail file after you've cut the nails, to ensure that there are no sharp edges with which your baby can scratch. If you're wondering how to file baby nails safely, then it may help to know that many parents have more success when their child is asleep. There are also products available to make this process a lot safer for babies, such as the Nipper Clipper at Direct4Baby, which is designed with a safety spy hole, that allows parents to see exactly what they are doing and can trim nails safely and correctly.
Now, we appreciate it can be difficult to get your little one to sleep at the best of times - so risking waking them up for this task is a big ask. Our tip is to simply lift baby's hand and drop it gently once they're asleep. If they're in light sleep, baby will react and may hold their hand up or move it away. If they're in a deeper sleep, then baby's hand will fall straight back down when you drop it. At this stage of sleep, they're less likely to move and react which makes it easier to cut or file your baby's nails.
What is in a baby grooming kit?
A good baby grooming kit will contain many of the first things your baby needs, including nail scissors and/or clippers, a soft-bristled baby hairbrush, a file and a toothbrush. These often include all of the non-disposable items, whilst you'll need to buy other things separately.
If you don't want to buy a full baby grooming kit, you can buy these items individually or add to kit to make it your own.
What baby grooming items do I need?
Baby grooming essentials will include their first hair brush and toothbrush, clippers or nail scissors, a gentle baby shampoo and other important products like cotton wool balls, which can be wet to wash baby's body with and to clean any mess remaining after removing the nappy. Babies do not need most adult grooming products, such as bubble bath, lotions, adult shampoo or conditioner, but will need a suitable toothpaste as soon as their first teeth emerge.
When bathing baby, be gentle and give a bath in shallow water. Test the temperature of baby's water using the underneath of your wrist, rather than your less sensitive hands. Your baby grooming routine can be a calming experience, and a chance for bonding, and is something to be enjoyed as part of everyday baby care.
To shop all baby grooming products, simply visit the toiletries section on our website.