Umbilical Cord Care
After birth, the umbilical cord will take anywhere from two to seven days to dry up and fall off. It is normal for the cord to look swollen and jelly-like at first. It is possible to do absolutely nothing to care for the cord, and it will fall off and heal just fine. Some people prefer to not bathe the child until it has fallen off, others prefer to bathe the child each day in pure water only. Either way is probably fine. If you prefer not to bathe and want to hasten the drying process, I would not recommend alcohol. My first choice would be Goldenseal root powder, sprinkled on the stump and left on to dry out the moisture. The Goldenseal will help inhibit infection, and will draw out the moisture. If you feel that you need a more powerful antiseptic, electrically-generated colloidal silver would be my choice. In the absence of this, garlic oil would be my third choice.
Care of Circumcision Site
I do not recommend circumcision.......however, if the procedure has already been done, until it heals I would apply an un-petroleum jelly product to the entire exposed and reddened penile area. I would re-apply a new coat each time the diaper is changed. Lavender oil helps new tissue to form, so in lieu of the un-petroleum jelly, one could just use a mixture of 1 ml carrier oil and 4 or 5 drops lavender. Apply this as a lubricant with each diaper change. It will not only inhibit infection, but help with discomfort and generation of new tissue.
Care of the Intact Penis
No special care is required for the intact penis. In the past, parents were told that it was necessary to forcefully push back the foreskin, or it would become adhered to the penis. This is, however, not the case. It is painful, the the foreskin will NOT retract until the child is much older. If you do it when they are babies and toddlers, this will hurt, and is not necessary. I have a fourteen year old boy, and I have never done ANYTHING special with him. He just washes with soap and water in the bath, that's all.
My personal preference in diapering is cloth diapers. I understand that some people find this distasteful or messy. However, studies have shown that temperatures inside disposable diapers are at least 3 or 4 degrees hotter than outside. There is concern about the development of the male testicles, because there is a specific temperature range which makes the development of sperm possible. If it's too hot, this development is thwarted. For this reason, there is a belief that the use of disposable diapers in the last thirty years has contributed to the skyrocketing levels of infertility in men. Also, can you imagine wearing plastic wrap all day long, sweating inside it, and encouraging the growth of bacteria? The fact that cloth diapers have to be changed more frequently means that there is little chance for bacteria growth.
Most babies are overwashed. In reality, newborns don't get very dirty. When they become toddlers and are getting into everything, then they need a lot of washing. Most babies don't have to be bathed every day. When you DO bathe the baby, soaps are usually not necessary. Pure water, lukewarm to warm, is all that is necessary. Many babies do not like to be totally naked, it makes them feel too exposed. You can take off their clothes and wrap them in a large washcloth or small towel before putting them into the water. Or, filling your bathtub, getting in yourself, and then taking the baby in with you is a good way. Any time the baby can have skin to skin contact with you, it helps them not be afraid in new situations. I always raised my legs up out of the water, laid the baby on my legs, and slowly lowered them into the water until the baby is submerged to the point that you are comfortable with. They often like you to raise and lower them in and out of the water over and over as a fun little ritual. If you want something to wash the baby with, aloe vera gel is a good thing to start with. Soaps leave a film and dry the baby's skin, and many babies are allergic to the fragrances and chemicals in the products. Aloe Vera is very soothing, and you can use it on their hair or to wash the body if it is dirty. You can also put a 2 or 3 drops of an essential oil such as lavendar in the gel so that you can get a nice healthy scent to your washing. Lavendar boosts the immune system and keeps germs away, not to mention relaxing the baby to get them ready to sleep.
Feeding should be on-demand, meaning, whenever the baby is hungry. Never feed a baby according to a schedule, or according to your own convenience. Feeding according to a schedule is a sure way to have an inadequate milk supply, because you must nurse frequently in order to establish a good one and maintain it. Also, babies are used to having a constant supply of nutrients when they were in the womb, so they never felt hungry. The feeling of emptiness which signals hunger is very uncomfortable for them, which is why they cry. Also, they need the frequent physical contact with you. Wear the baby in the sling so that it can have constant physical contact; this also frees up your hand to do other things and carry on with your life when you have a baby. Baby is not used to the feeling of being alone, and especially of laying in a crib alone. It's best if they are in the sling all the time unless you are sleeping, and then you just tuck them into bed next to you so they still have that physical contact. Feeding your baby when he or she cries is a very important way of building a strong mother-infant attachment, and builds trust between mother and child. Please, don't use formula. For an explanation of the dangers of formula, see Why Shouldn't I Use Formula?