Parenthood and all associated with it can sometimes leave new parents scratching their heads and asking, “how do I do this?” Caring for your baby boy’s genitals is just one such thing.
What should you expect to see at birth? How do you care for your little one down there? And when should you consult with a doctor are just some of the questions parents might ask.
If you have or are going to have a little girl, then we’ve already addressed the topic of looking after her genitals in a separate article, which you can read by clicking this link.
This article will give you information and tips about caring for your baby boy’s genital region. Do keep in mind that this is a guide only. You should be consulting your paediatrician for any health-related matters concerning your baby.
What to Expect at Birth
Don’t be too surprised if you see that your newborn baby boy’s genitalia appear swollen at birth. This is quite normal.
This swelling and enlargement occur due to a combination of factors. This includes exposure to your hormones and bruising of the genitalia during the birth process.
You might also notice that your little boy’s scrotum looks quite large. This is usually due to what is known as a hydrocele. It happens when fluid collects in the scrotum. This almost always disappears within the first six months.
A newborn boy’s testicles may also be difficult to locate within the swollen scrotum. Medical experts explain this because “muscles attached to the testicles pull them up into the groin briskly when the genital area is touched or exposed to a cool environment.”
Your little boy will also experience erections. This again is normal and usually occurs just before they pee.
During your little boy’s infant months, gentle cleansing of his penis with soap and mild baby wash is enough.
Keeping Your Baby Boy’s Genitalia Clean
The uncircumcised penis
Whether you circumcise your son or not, it’s crucial to learn how to keep his penis clean to prevent infections and other problems. It’s all about caring for the baby boy’s genitals.
In the first couple of months, clean your little boy’s penis with a gentle body wash and water along with the rest of his diaper area. Gently pat dry (do not rub) with a clean, soft towel, and then dress him in his diaper.
It is not necessary to clean the penis with antiseptic or cotton swabs.
Things to Remember About the Foreskin
Do not try to pull back his foreskin, which is the skin that covers the head of his penis. Instead, gently tense it against the head of the penis and wash off any smegma, which is whitish beads of dead skin cells mixed with the body’s oils.
The foreskin serves an important function, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It shields the glans, or head of the penis, which is important, especially during your baby’s infant years when the penis can get easily irritated by urine and faeces.
Your baby’s foreskin is connected to his penis by tissues, so if you try to force the foreskin back prematurely, you could cause bleeding and painful tears to his skin.
Do occasionally observe your son urinating to ensure the hole in the foreskin allows a normal stream of pee to escape. If you consistently notice a mere trickle of urine, or your baby seems to be in discomfort while peeing, speak to your doctor for advice.
The foreskin will gradually start to retract naturally once your baby is a few years old, and usually, by the time he is around five or six, it will retract fully. Until this time, cleaning the penis well with soap and water is enough.
What Else to Remember When Caring for Baby Boy Genitals
Image source: iStock
Baby boys are notorious for peeing in their parents’ faces during diaper change time, so change their diaper swiftly to prevent this! You may also want to have a small towel handy during change time — just in case!
Remember to point your baby boy’s penis down in his diaper before fastening it to prevent leaks.
As your son grows older, teach him how to keep his penis clean by:
- Gently pull the foreskin away from the head of his penis
- Washing the head of the penis and inside of the foreskin with soap and water
- Pulling the foreskin back over the head of his penis
Call your doctor for advice if your son’s foreskin does not fully retract by the time he reaches puberty.
Common Genitalia Issues in Baby Boys
This occurs when abdominal tissue — such as a loop of the intestine — moves into your baby’s open inguinal canal. If this happens, you will notice a small, painless bulge in your baby’s groin area, say medical experts. These hernias are more common in boys than girls.
What to do
To prevent your baby from developing a strangulated hernia which is “a condition that occurs when a piece of intestinal content gets stuck in the canal and cuts off the blood supply to that portion of the intestine”, your doctor may recommend minor surgery to close up the inguinal canal.
If your baby does develop a strangulated hernia, it will result in a hard, swollen and very painful lump in his groin area that needs immediate medical treatment.
Illustration of a hydrocele. Image from Pinterest
This happens “when a boy’s inguinal canal fails to close, fluid from the abdomen can collect in the scrotal sac,” says Dr Steven Tennenbaum, a New York-based paediatric urologist. It causes your baby’s testicles to appear swollen but isn’t painful.
What to do
A hydrocele will usually go away on its own. But if it doesn’t, your baby’s doctor may recommend surgery after the first birthday to get rid of the fluid and close the passageway.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A UTI occurs if your baby’s penis is not cleaned properly and results from an overgrowth of bacteria. Usually, a high fever is the only symptom of this condition.
But sometimes, you may notice odd-smelling urine, unusual irritability in your baby or even vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, please consult your baby’s paediatrician without delay.
What to do
A course of antibiotics will easily treat a UTI, according to doctors.
This sometimes occurs after circumcision. When body tissue is cut, the edges can stick to the area around the cut. For a circumcised baby boy, the raw areas of the foreskin may stick to the glans or head of the penis.
If this happens, it may look like the penis was never circumcised or that a thin film covers the glans.
What to do
A penile adhesion is painless and will almost always correct itself as the penis grows. No treatment is needed. However, if the adhesions are extensive, a doctor can prescribe a mild steroid cream, says Dr Victoria McEvoy, assistant professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Undescended Testes, What It’s Like To Be Born With It
Hypospadias in Baby Boys and Treatment for This Condition
Baby With Balanitis: What You Should Know
Diaper Rash on Genital Area
When you have a baby boy, diaper rash is always something that you have to deal with. It’s just a fact of life. But when it comes to the genital area, it can be more complicated than just applying some of the same treatments you normally would use for diaper rash.
What to do
- Change diapers frequently and thoroughly. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent diaper rash in babies. If you keep your baby’s bottom clean, they won’t get diaper rash in the first place!
- Use wipes that are alcohol-free and fragrance-free. These kinds of wipes will help prevent irritation on your baby’s sensitive skin without irritating it further by adding chemicals or perfumes.
- Use a barrier cream or ointment on your baby’s bottom after every change to protect them from moisture and friction caused by cloth diapers or rubber pants. You don’t want anything getting through those barriers because that could lead to an infection or even worse problems down the road!
Baby Boy’s Genitals – When to Call the Doctor
Looking after your baby boy’s genitals is not as complicated as it sounds. All that matters is you keep it as clean and as dry as possible to prevent infections.
However, make sure that your child’s paediatrician checks them also on the next appointment to cross out the possibility of the issues mentioned above. Moreover, bring your baby boy to his doctor without delay if you notice:
- swelling or bulging in your son’s scrotum or groin that lasts beyond 3 to 6 months or that seems to come and go
- persistent bleeding, redness around the tip of the penis that gets worse after 3 days, accompanied with signs of infection such as fever and fussiness
Updated by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.