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When Can you Bathe Newborn After Circumcision?

If you have chosen to get your newborn circumcised, the procedure will normally take place in the days following the birth, often while you are still in hospital. Once you have brought your baby home you may be worried about when you can safely bathe them and how to take care of the wound. Here we will outline the questions you may have around how to clean and when to bathe newborn after circumcision.

Table of Contents

What is Circumcision?

Male circumcision is the practice of surgically removing the foreskin (the roll of skin at the end of the penis). This is sometimes done for religious or cultural reasons. In the Jewish and Muslim faiths, it is a common practice, as well as in many African communities. Circumcision may also be carried out for medical reasons but this is normally when the child is older and a problem has been identified.

It’s estimated that 20% of men in the UK are circumcised, although the rate of newborn circumcision is decreasing. Medical circumcision is now relatively rare so most circumcisions are performed for religious or cultural reasons.

Newborn circumcision typically takes place in the first 10 days after birth, and usually within the first 48 hours. The procedure will be performed by a doctor in hospital. In some cases, religious ritual circumcision will take place in the home.

What to expect after your newborn has been circumcised

Newborn babies feel pain so your baby may be uncomfortable and fussy after they have been circumcised. This may mean they want to be fed more often and find it hard to settle down to sleep. It may also be uncomfortable to pass urine.

The wound should only take about a week to heal and they will feel less pain each day. They may have a bandage on the wound which you will be advised to remove after a couple of days, and before you bathe newborn after circumcision. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about the pain, as you should not give Calpol or Nurofen to newborns unless as prescribed.

Their penis will be inflamed and sore for a few days so it is advisable to ensure that their nappy is not too tight. Many doctors also advise smearing some petroleum jelly on the front of their nappy to ensure the wound does not stick to the nappy.

sponge bath newborn after circumcision

How to clean your baby after a circumcision

After the circumcision you can wash your baby’s penis with warm water after each nappy change to ensure that the wound is kept clean. You can dry it with a soft towel and then replace any dressing before putting on their nappy.

The wound will develop a scab after a few days and until this scab falls off you should avoid submerging your baby’s bottom half in water, so avoid fully bathing baby after circumcision for a bit. A sponge bath is recommended until both the circumcision site heals and the umbilical cord has fallen off.

To give your baby a sponge bath lay them on their changing mat (on a warm towel if it is cold in the room) and have a bowl of warm water nearby. You can use a few drops of gentle baby body wash in the water if you wish, or you could try some breast milk in bath water. Then just use a soft sponge to gently wash your baby.

Try to get into all those little cracks and crevices where gunk can build up such as under their chin and arms and in the folds of their legs. Once you are done wrap them in a nice fluffy towel – always ensuring that you are mindful of their circumcision wound.

When can you bathe newborn after circumcision?

Most circumcision wounds heal after about 7-10 days which is usually around the same time the umbilical cord falls off. Sometimes this doesn’t happen for two weeks – after which it should be find to bathe baby normally.

When you should consult a doctor

Circumcision is a very common and straightforward procedure which carries little risk. However, if you notice the following symptoms then you should consult a doctor:

  • The penis is bleeding. There may be some blood post-op but anything more than spotting should be followed up
  • Your baby seems unusually uncomfortable passing urine
  • The penis is still swollen and inflamed two weeks after the operation
  • Some circumcision procedures involve using a plastic ring (plastibell) that cuts off the blood flow. If this has not fallen off after two weeks you should consult your doctor.
  • If there is a foul-smelling discharge. This may signal an infection which will need to be checked out.

Frequently Asked Questions

bathing after circumcision

How long does it take for a newborn’s circumcision wound to heal?

It should take between 7-10 days for the circumcision wound to heal. If it has been two weeks since the procedure and it still hasn’t healed you should speak to a doctor.

How do I know if my baby’s circumcision is healed?

Once any swelling has gone down and the scab has shrunk you can most likely assume that the circumcision is healed.

How long do you use Vaseline after circumcision for newborn?

Many people use Vaseline to ensure the wound from the circumcision does not stick to their babies nappy. You can continue to apply Vaseline until you are sure that the wound is healed and you are happy that it will no longer stick to the nappy.

Wrapping Up

In most cases, circumcision is uneventful and causes your newborn no problems aside from a little discomfort in the first few days post-op. Many new parents look forward to bathing baby after circumcision but a full bath should wait until you are sure that it is safe. Until then give them a few nice sponge baths and lots of cuddles until they are healed.

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