Genital cleaning and care for little people
Looking after little people’s genitals is essential for their overall health and well-being. Genital care isn’t just about the cleaning of vulvas and penises. It’s also about paying attention when something isn’t right, talking openly about these body parts and making sure little people are educated.
While caring for your baby’s genitals is easy and simple, if it’s your first time there may be some steps you’re unsure about. In today’s blog, we run through everything you need to know about keeping little people healthy.
Genital hygiene is important for little ones
Keeping your baby’s genitals clean is just as important as keeping the rest of them clean. It helps these areas stay free from infections and means your little one remains happy and healthy.
Genitals are delicate areas, so a gentle touch is always a good idea when it’s nappy change or bath time. To protect little people’s delicate skin, stick to alcohol and perfume-free wipes, like our biodegradable tooshies wipes, and avoid products made with soap. Warm water and a cotton ball are usually all you need to maintain good genital hygiene for bubs. You can also use a mild baby cleanser or sensitive skin baby wipes like our tooshies pure water wipes. While genital cleaning is important, keep in mind that too much washing or rubbing can irritate the skin.
Little vulvas and little penises require different care, so have a look at what is suitable for your bub:
Cleaning a little vulva
When it’s time to clean your little one’s vulva, wipe the genitals and bottom well. To prevent bacteria from transferring from the bottom to the vagina, always wipe from the front to the back. After you’ve cleaned the skin, dry the area well with a clean, soft towel. If you do need to clean your bub’s labia, hold their legs apart and use a cotton ball or tooshies wipe to clean away any nappy creams, sweat or poo.
You may notice your baby has a clear or white discharge, or their vagina is swollen and red. This is your bub’s response to your maternal hormones and is nothing to be concerned about. Any discharge should disappear after a few weeks but if it persists or you notice anything of concern, contact your GP.
Cleaning a little penis
At nappy change or bath time, use warm water to gently wash your bub’s penis and scrotum with a cotton ball or use a tooshies wipe. Then, dry the area well with a soft towel. You don’t need to clean inside your baby’s foreskin when he’s young. Once his foreskin does pull back more easily, most likely when he is two or three, you can clean it if necessary. You’ll find he’ll start to play and pull back the foreskin himself at this age, which is the prompt you need to start cleaning. Never attempt to pull it back before it’s naturally separated from the head of the penis.
If your bub has been circumcised, clean his penis as normal at bath time. Applying some cream like Gaia Natural Baby Soothing Cream can help prevent rubbing and aid the healing process.
Unlike with vulvas, redness, swelling or discharge is not normal for a penis. If you notice this, take your baby to the GP.
Safe exploring for little bodies
Little people play with and explore their genitals. It’s a normal, natural and expected part of their development. You might notice bubs touching or rubbing these areas, and they may hump or grind an object like a pillow or blanket. There are a few reasons for this. It can be a way to soothe and calm, or it could be because they are bored or seeking sensory input. Whatever the reason, allowing kids to be curious and to explore their genitals without shame helps them develop a healthy relationship with their bodies.
If you do notice any behaviour that concerns you, check in with your GP. It’s likely just a normal part of their early development.
Throughout this blog, we’ve used words like vulva, labia and penis — and there’s a reason for that. We want our bubs to grow up confident, empowered and educated. Vulva, labia and penis are not bad or naughty words, they’re simply the correct terms to describe our body parts. By using the correct terminology, we’re lessening shame around sexuality and helping kids know and love their bodies.
Conversations about body parts help them begin to understand big topics like consent and bodily autonomy. Using the correct anatomical names is also important for children’s reproductive health and safety. If something isn’t right, if something hurts or has been touched in an unsafe way, it means little ones have the right language to communicate this.
Remember that our little ones model our behaviour. Try to avoid using nicknames for genitals. Instead of ‘willy’, ‘front bum’ or ‘fanny’, call it what it is. When parents show they’re comfortable using this language, it teaches kids it’s okay too.
Looking after little people’s genitals, whether that’s cleaning them or encouraging healthy development, shows them that their body is worthy of respect.