Penis care for newborns
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. The Royal Australian College of Physicians acknowledges the importance of this in an August 2009 statement, whilst pointing out that the circumcision rate in Australia and New Zealand has fallen considerably in recent years. The RACP estimates that around 10-15 per cent of newborn male infants are circumcised.
While the RACP does not recommend circumcision for medical benefits, it accepts that parents should be able to make the decision with their doctors. If the operation is to be performed, RACP recommends it be done by a competent surgeon, using appropriate anaesthetic in a safe, child-friendly environment.
There’s more information here to help with your decision.
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.
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.
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