Infant Development - Self-Care

(sleeping, bathing, toothbrushing)

Self care refers to all the things we do to keep our bodies safe and healthy.  For an infant, it is the parent who is doing the care, and the baby is just taking part.  The main areas of self-care for an infant are sleeping, eating/drinkingtooth brushingdressing, and bathing/grooming

For information about eating and drinking, please visit our eating and drinking information page.  For information about the other areas of self-care for a baby, please read below.

Sleeping Child

A baby’s teeth usually start to appear anywhere from 4 months to 1 year of age.  It is very important to clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear, and the best way to develop that routine is to start cleaning her mouth right from birth.  You can start with a small soft washcloth or toothbrush with a bit of water on it, and just gently rub your baby’s gums twice per day.  Once her first tooth erupts, use a small toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to clean her teeth, again twice per day.

Try to make toothbrushing time a relaxing time for your baby.  Put him in a comfortable place, either laying down or sitting in a supportive chair.  Sing a fun song while you brush!  Try to do the toothbrushing routine at a time when your baby is well rested and full.

If you are frustrated because your baby will not let you brush his teeth, talk to your dentist or doctor, a public health nurse, an occupational therapist, or another health professional in the community.

child with toothbrush

A baby’s teeth usually start to appear anywhere from 4 months to 1 year of age.  It is very important to clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear, and the best way to develop that routine is to start cleaning her mouth right from birth.  You can start with a small soft washcloth or toothbrush with a bit of water on it, and just gently rub your baby’s gums twice per day.  Once her first tooth erupts, use a small toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to clean her teeth, again twice per day.

Try to make toothbrushing time a relaxing time for your baby.  Put him in a comfortable place, either laying down or sitting in a supportive chair.  Sing a fun song while you brush!  Try to do the toothbrushing routine at a time when your baby is well rested and full.

If you are frustrated because your baby will not let you brush his teeth, talk to your dentist or doctor, a public health nurse, an occupational therapist, or another health professional in the community.

Happy Girl

Dressing your baby can be quite a challenge.  When she is first born, it is difficult to hold her AND get her limbs into her clothes.  Once she starts moving around, then it is hard to get her to stop long enough to get her clothes on! The good news is that your baby should be able to help you a bit when she is close to a year old  by holding her arm or leg out when you are putting on her clothes.

If you are having difficulty dressing your baby for any of the following reasons, you may want to talk to an occupational therapist:

  • Your baby seems extremely stiff or extremely floppy, beyond what is expected for his age
  • Your baby has physical challenges that make it difficult to dress him
  • Your baby becomes extremely upset when you try to dress her, beyond what is expected for her age
Happy Kid in a Sailboat

Babies are not usually able to help with any bathing or grooming tasks, but they often protest when you try to do them!  For some tips on washing and grooming your baby, check out the BC Government’s Best Chance Website.

If you are having difficulty washing or grooming your baby for any of the following reasons, you may want to talk to an occupational therapist:

  • Your baby seems extremely stiff or extremely floppy, beyond what is expected for his age
  • Your baby has physical challenges that make it difficult to bathe/groom him
  • Your baby becomes extremely upset when you try to bathe/groom her, beyond what is expected for her age