Penis care for newborns
Penis care

Should I have my baby boy circumcised?

The choice to circumcise a penis (that is surgically removing the foreskin (prepuce) that surrounds the head of the penis) is a personal one, often rooted in deep-set religious or cultural norms. Today it is estimated that 10% of male babies in New Zealand are circumcised, but as mentioned, it is usually related to cultural significance, so circumcision rates in other countries can vary hugely - around 60% of male babies in USA are circumcised. 

The consensus view of the Australasian College of Physcians is that “there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.” However, it is up to individual parents, and if the operation is to be performed, it should be done by a competent surgeon, using appropriate anaesthetic in a safe, child-friendly environment.

Circumcised penises

Your baby will have petroleum jelly and gauze on his penis. The gauze dressing may be ‘soaked off’ after 24 hours or so, after a bath. Some caregivers then recommend putting petroleum jelly on the sensitive site for a few days, to help reduce any stinging from urination. When you change each nappy, gently wash around the penis with clean, warm water. Avoid rubbing. Some spotting of blood is normal for the first few nappy changes. 

Circumcision sites rarely get infected, but signs of an infection might include persistent redness, swelling at the tip, crusted sores, or odour. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of these. 

Once the wound heals, simply wash the penis with soap and water.  Avoid bubble baths, which can be drying and cause irritation.

Uncircumcised penises

There’s no special care needed for an uncircumcised penis beyond washing the outside with soap and water. 

Until the foreskin is retractable (often not until puberty), don’t try to clean under it. 

Change your son’s wet or dirty nappies as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection.

Related articles:

The circumcision debate
Bathing your baby
Baby's first year

This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource from sources including the Circumcision Information Australia and Better Health Channel

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