Babies Are Disgusting: My Four Biggest Struggles With Baby Hygiene

A baby is an actual human being with all the disgusting bodily fluids, digestive issues, and wonky toenails of your average frat boy.
Publish date:
February 12, 2013
parenting, babies, hygiene, cradle cap, diaper rash

In case you haven't noticed yet in our brief acquaintance, I tend to be a worrier.

When I was pregnant, I worried like it was my job and I was the Best Employee in the History of the World. Besides all of my labor and birth-related worries (which were epic and graphic), I worried about where to put the baby, what to do all day with the baby, how to not drop the baby down the stairs, whether or not the baby would like me, and about a gazillion other things.

Worries about the rigors of daily baby hygiene? Nope. Never crossed my mind.

But, hello, people! A baby is not just an excuse for you to buy colorful shit for your house. A baby is an actual human being with all the disgusting bodily fluids, digestive issues, and wonky toenails of your average frat boy. Except that unlike your average frat boy, your baby needs someone to keep him clean, dry, smooth, and de-clawed.

Here are the biggest hygiene challenges I have faced in my first year of parenthood. This is based on MY experience so far, so if your baby is more or less disgusting than mine, well, I guess we can all just pat ourselves on the back.

1. Nails

Two things are certain: You are going to be terrified to cut your baby's nails. And you are going to make a finger or toe bleed at some point. Yes, you are. Deal with it.

For the record, I've only accidentally cut the skin once and he didn't seem to mind all that much. I'm still afraid of cutting him and since he's been more mobile, getting him to stay still enough to even submit to a trimming session has been a challenge. I'm sure this problem will only get worse once he starts walking and gets more willful and apt to punch me in the face. So far I’ve had success distracting him by either singing or making farting noises, so I guess I’ll just keep up with the good work!

I’ve been OK with some baby emery boards and baby nail clippers. I got away with only filing them for maybe the first week, but then I had to just dive in. I’m sure I could’ve used regular-people emery boards, but the little baby ones are softer and easier to maneuver between the chubby little fingers. I never bothered with the magnifying glass thing on my nail clippers and I learned to just move quickly, pull baby’s skin as far back from the nail as I can and GO FOR IT.

2. Neck

My baby has always had a very laid-back personality. He likes kicking his legs, chewing on a toy, whatever. Baby’s love for lying on his back, plus the fact that he has a huge head, plus the fact that it was summer added up to a nasty, stinky chronic neck rash.

We were on neck rash patrol for months. The doctor said to keep it dry and use 1% hydrocortisone cream. Experts tell you not to use talc anymore because it can get into baby’s lungs and stay there, so we went through a lot of Burt’s Bees Baby Powder. The powder helped keep his neck dry enough to clear up the rash, but it also smelled nice. Because my baby’s neck smelled, people! It smelled like an empty subway car that pulls up in front of you and you’re excited to get a seat and then you realize why it’s empty.

3. Scalp

Baby has more hair now, so his mess of a scalp is pretty much under control these days except for a few little patches where his hair is still growing in. But, oh, MAN! When my little guy was younger, even until about 6 or 7 months old his scalp featured many large patches of the disgusting yellow-ish crust known as "cradle cap."

(If you feel like grossing yourself out, do a Google Image search for "cradle cap." Right?)

I guess I need to reevaluate the lighting in my house because of course the only times I ever noticed when it was bad was when we were out in public. Then I would immediately start flaking it off with my fingernails, and people probably never would have even noticed my son’s scalp would turn and stare at me, the scalp-picking obsessive compulsive crazy woman.

When I asked mommies everywhere what to do about this, some told me to massage olive oil into his scalp, and some said he'd grow out of it. We had some luck with plain old regular Head n' Shoulders every other night at bath-time. That dried out the cradle cap enough so that it felt extra crusty and I could massage and flake it off in the privacy of our home. If we used it more often than every other day, baby would get too dry and sprout a rash.

4. Ass

Maybe we were extra lucky, but we didn't have any major issues with diaper rash until baby had his first stomach virus at around 8 months old. At least six stinky, watery poops a day left a pretty angry-looking mess, but a big lump of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste in the crack at every changing took care of it.

Then we suddenly and inexplicably had a major rash about a month later and I learned what a real diaper rash was. His butt crack was so red it was purple and looked like a hickey in some places, and he cried and tried to wiggle away when I wiped him. This was when I found myself putting him naked on the floor with clumps of poo still stuck to him while I ran to the bathroom to wet a washcloth, ran back into his room to clean him up, ran to the closet to get some towels to put on the floor and let him hang out bare-ass naked for about 40 minutes.

Letting him creep around and air-dry, I frantically Googled “best diaper rash crème” and asked Facebook for help. The winner? Triple Paste. This stuff is expensive and you have to put in on thick and stick in right in there, but it makes a huge difference overnight. And I’m sorry, but I don’t have a picture of my baby’s bare ass for you. If he shows it to you when he’s old enough, that’s his right.

Tell me, people: What was your biggest baby hygiene struggle? Do you have a better nail-cutting strategy for when singing and making farting noises stops working? Did you never accidentally cut the skin? Because I don’t believe you. What the hell was it that my baby ate that made his ass so rash-y?