Daily Care of Newborns and Infants

No one needs to be told that infants need special care as they are helpless and fragile beings. Basic knowledge on how they should be handled is very essential be you a man or a woman. How then can we care for an infant?

Environmental temperature
The newborn infant has an unstable heat regulating system, and its body temperature may be influenced by the environmental temperature. A temperature of 22.2 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 35% to 40% are recommended for pediatric units. The temperature should not fall below 20 degrees Celsius. The nurse should check the temperature of the room during each hour of study.

Observation of Vital signs
The vital signs of the newborn and the infant will reflect its status and adjustment to extra-uterine life. An individual thermometer reserved for the exclusive use of each infant reduces the possibility of cross-infection. The temperature, pulse, and respiration of the infant should be taken twice a day. If a deviation from normal is noted, more frequent recordings are required. Pulses are routinely taken on infants Older than one year of age and on younger infants who are receiving drugs affecting the circulation. An axillary or rectal temperature may be taken. The temperature of an infant may be altered by the bath, due to evaporation of water from the skin.

Weighing the infant
The weight of the infant reflects his status and is the basis for determining his nutritional needs and medication dosages. Accurate weights should be recorded at regular intervals during hospitalization. An infant or child with a kidney disease or a nutritional disorder requires a daily weight record. The weighing scale should be draped separately for each infant to prevent the spread of infection. Linen should not be used to drape the scale, as fluids such as urine may seep through the material and contaminate the scale. The use of paper barriers will prevent the indirect spread of infection.

An infant's temperature should be taken before the bath is given. Policies establishing the regular intervals for weighing infants and children should be posted in a conspicuous place by the head nurse. The weights should be recorded on each infant's chart.

Sterile impervious paper must be draped over the scale basket before each infant is placed on the scale. Paper barriers should be kept available near the scale.

Bath and skin care
The newborn infant has few defense mechanisms against unfavorable circumstances in his environment. He must therefore be protected from sources of infection. Strict aseptic technique should be maintained in all phases of infant care. The less the skin is handled. the better its condition will be. Some hospitals do not require the removal of vernix from the skin at birth. The nurse should be guided by the philosophy of the hospital. Using powder with oil will tend to form a paste that retains body secretions and may precipitate skin irritation. Particles of powder may be inhaled by the infant and have an irritating effect upon respiratory tract. The daily care should be planned so that the growth and development of the child are fostered.

A crib should be assigned for the exclusive use of an infant in order to prevent cross-contamination. Individual supplies should be stored in the space provided in each bassinet. Equipment should include:
1. Disposable cups for bath water
2. Chix or soft cloths
3. Thermometer
4. Diapers and linen

Routine baths must be given in each infant's individual crib. Powder should not be used for infants in a hospital unit. An approved baby Oil may be applied to areas of the skin which may be dry, cracked or peeling.

Independence should be encouraged for the children who may assume partial responsibility for their baths. Tub bath-may is given with the approval of the doctor, with consideration given as to facilities available, the diagnosis, and the level of activity allowed.

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