Genital hygiene for babies
It’s important to keep your baby’s genitals clean. This will help prevent infections and keep your baby healthy.
To clean your baby’s genitals, you can use warm water and a cotton ball. If you want to, you could add a small amount of mild cleanser with a built-in moisturiser to the water. Make sure to wash all cleanser off your baby’s genitals.
You can clean your baby’s genitals when changing their nappy and at bath times.
Avoid using talcum powder anywhere on your baby, including around baby’s genitals. Talcum powder has fine particles that your baby can breathe in. You should also avoid cornstarch-based baby powder. It can make rashes worse.
Cleaning a baby’s penis
Gently wash your baby’s penis and scrotum with warm water and a cotton ball. Dry your baby’s penis and scrotum by patting gently with a soft towel.
You need to clean only the outside of your baby’s foreskin. You can clean inside the foreskin when it easily pulls back on its own, which usually happens when your child is 2-3 years old. Sometimes it might not happen until puberty.
It’s common for a milky white substance (called smegma) to gather under the foreskin. This is made of dead skin cells and natural secretions. It’s nothing to worry about.
If your son is circumcised, moisten the front of the nappy with petroleum jelly or pawpaw cream. This will stop your baby’s penis from sticking to the nappy until it has healed. Circumcision for non-medical reasons isn’t recommended.
Cleaning a baby’s labia
Nappy creams, sweat and other substances can collect in and around the labia. But in general, you need to clean in and around the labia only to remove traces of poo.
To clean your baby’s labia, wet a cotton ball with warm water, hold your baby’s legs apart and wipe between the labia with the cotton ball. Start at the front and gently wipe backwards. Use a new cotton ball if you need to wipe again. Dry your baby’s genital area by gently patting with a soft towel.
Don’t use vaginal deodorants or douches. They can upset the natural chemical balance of your baby’s vagina and increase the risk of infection.
Sometimes your baby might have a thick milky discharge – this doesn’t need to be cleaned away. If you’re unsure about any other discharge, see your GP or child and family health nurse.
It’s common for newborn baby girls to have bloody vaginal discharge in the first few weeks after birth. This is your baby’s response to maternal hormones, which are still in your baby’s body. But if this discharge doesn’t go away, you should contact your GP or child and family health nurse.