Baby Penis Care

Baby penis care might not be something you’ve even given much thought to.

The diaper game is an ever popular one at baby showers: How quickly can you diaper a doll, a teddy bear, a football? Stories are swapped about baby poop colors and giant blowouts and the inevitable peeing-on that will happen at least once when you take the diaper off at the wrong moment.

Lifestyle portrait of  cute girl toddler helping her mother, changing baby diaper. Older sister looking at her little younger sibling brother. Mother learning baby penis care

But there’s one area of diaper changes that doesn’t often come up, and can leave some new parents flummoxed: how to properly clean your baby boy’s penis.

Populations and communities vary, so some people may never have seen an uncircumcised penis, while others may be caring for a circumcision for the first time. Either way, there can be a lot of confusion and worry around how to properly change a new baby boy’s diaper. So here we are with the details on how to CLEAN THAT PENIS, so all you have to worry about is getting through the poop smells!

Circumcision Care:

Depending on the length of your hospital stay and the timing of your son’s circumcision, it may fall on you to care for any remaining bandaging when you get home. For the first day or two after the circumcision, there may be gauze applied to the wound- this will need to be replaced. If it’s stuck, resist the urge to panic and freak out!  All you need to do is soak it off gently with warm water- a wet cloth held to the area will do just fine.

Okay, and then the gauze is off and maybe it’s a little scary and you’re resisting the urge to shout “WHOA!”- again, don’t panic. You can expect some redness and swelling, and some crust at the tip. If numbing medication was injected, there may be a little bruising there. This is normal and should be all healed up within a week or a little more.

Now, it’s time! Do your usual wiping off of his bottom and use something soft like a cotton ball or baby wash cloth to gently clean the penis. Unless your doctor has used a plastic ring instead of a surgical circumcision – in which case your doctor will have more specific instruction – you will want to apply some (ahem, heaping gobs of) petroleum jelly to the penis at every diaper change for a few more days- this keeps it moist for optimal healing and prevents it from getting stuck to his diaper. Seriously, treat it as though you’re making a large soft-serve ice cream cone! Try to change diapers as soon as you notice the need, and make sure it isn’t wrapped too tightly– we don’t want to put any pressure on the area until it’s all healed.

What To Look Out For:

Like we mentioned, some swelling and redness is normal. Rarely, there will be an excess of this swelling, an amount of blood that would soak the gauze, or some funky smells coming from the penis itself. These symptoms, a lack of urination, or a fever over 100.4 degrees all warrant an immediate call to your pediatrician- there may be extra care needed. Even if no other symptoms appear, if the penis hasn’t healed within 8-10 days, you should check in as well just to be safe.

Uncircumcised or “Intact” Penis Care:

While this is a very simple and straightforward task, some people, especially those who are accustomed to circumcised babies, may struggle with the urge to be a little too thorough in their cleaning.

It’s important to remind anyone changing your baby boy that his foreskin (which is all you will see) should never be “retracted” or pulled back to clean inside– while it may seem counterintuitive, this can actually cause infection. The foreskin does not naturally retract until later on- as the boy grows older, he will clean it himself and eventually it will move back on its own, but it should not be forced before then.

Simply clean what you see, and leave the rest!


Clean the area around the base and then wipe off the outside of the penis from the base up like it’s a tiny finger. Get that scrotum and bottom squeaky clean, and diaper up. That’s it- really!

And there you go: you know how to diaper like a pro! If you are pregnant and find yourself still feeling apprehensive about the idea of doing the first change on your own, no matter what choice you’ve made regarding circumcision, you can contact one of our amazing postpartum doulas for help- we’ve seen it all, and we can walk you through every step!


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