Monday, October 7, 2013

Purposeful Parenting: Keeping your Infant Well Groomed

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We'll be the first ones to admit it: we're a little crazy about hygiene in our house. I really couldn't tell you why, except it just drives us nuts when we're not well groomed. And if we see a child who is not well groomed, that just puts our panties in a bunch.

Before we were married, before we had Bug, we knew we would be sticklers about hygiene for our future children. And I can tell you that definitely hasn't changed since Bug arrived.

If anything, we're even more crazy about it than I thought we would be.

With infants, though, you do have to be careful about over-grooming them. Some of you may be even thinking you didn't know you had to groom babies! Well, you do. Here are some good guidelines to follow:

Babies 0 - 3 months:
  • Bathe 2x a week
  • Clip fingernails 1x a week {or if you prefer, file 3 - 4x a week}
  • Brush hair 1x a day {this may not be an issue if your baby doesn't have curly, frizzy hair}
  • Wash face and neck 1x a day
  • Clip toenails once every two months {more often as needed}
Babies 3 - 12 months:
  • Bathe 3x a week
  • Clip fingernails 1x a week {or if you prefer, file daily}
  • Brush hair 1x a day {this may not be an issue if your baby doesn't have curly, frizzy hair}
  • Wash face and neck 2x a day
  • Clip toenails 1x a month {more often as needed}
As your baby grows into toddlerhood {Bug isn't there yet so I'm not sure what her grooming needs will be at that time}, you may need to bathe more often since your baby will be running around and getting into all sorts of dirty good things.

There are many reasons to keep your baby well groomed, and really, it's not so you have a well groomed baby because you just want a well groomed baby. Here are the issues we ran into if we didn't keep Bug well groomed all the time:
  1. Bug's hair developed snarls. At 8 weeks of age. I have no clue if this is normal, but I'm guessing not. I'm rather sure it's because she was blessed {ahem, CURSED} with my hair, which is curly and frizzy. If we don't brush her hair daily {and often times, we do it multiple times a day}, she gets snarls. Which are no fun for her and no fun for us to get out.
  2. Bug's nails would scratch her and us. One time, it looked like she got in a cat fight. When she's tired, she pulls at her eyes, her ears, her face. If her nails aren't kept short {which I prefer anyway as that's how I keep my nails}, she'll scratch up her face.
  3. Bug developed a rash on her neck. Unfortunately, keeping her neck washed didn't eliminate this, but I believe it helped contain the rash.
  4. Bug loves, loves, loves bath time. If we could, we would keep her in the bath all day {with one of us in there for supervision of course!}. She just loves it. So it's in the best interest for her and us for us to bathe her regularly.
I understand that keeping your kid well groomed can be work. I'm right there with you. But here's the thing: if you don't keep your kid well groomed now, you won't later. And if you don't later, they're going to fight you when you eventually realize your kid is a real, little person with grooming needs just like everyone else. I know a couple of kids who fight their parents on having their hair cut, their nails cut, just about everything one could do to a kid, grooming-wise. They didn't become used to it as a baby, then as a toddler, so they want nothing to do with it now. Set up good habits now, and you'll see the reward of that hard work later.

Grooming can be difficult with just one person. We tend to make sure both of us are home when we're grooming Bug, just in case the other person is needed. Here are some other tips that may help:
  • Clip fingernails when your baby is sleeping.
  • Give baths a little before bedtime. If your baby gets a little cranky at night {Bug was cranky a bit at night around 3 months}, do it before your baby has reached the peak of crankiness. A bath will also help calm and soothe your baby, and it always helped put Bug to bed that much quicker.
  • At the first diaper change of the day {not in the middle of the night, but the 6 AM or 9 AM diaper change}, have everything ready to do your daily grooming: wash face and neck, file nails, brush hair. This way, you won't forget to groom her daily and you're developing a routine for baby that morning is the time we get ready for the day. It'll be something she can expect each day.

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