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Your baby right after birth

  • Your baby gets a full checkup right after birth.
  • Your baby also gets newborn screening tests.
  • Decide if circumcision is right for your son.
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As a parent of a baby boy, one decision to make is about circumcision.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes foreskin from the penis. Foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis. Circumcision should be done with local anesthesia to protect your baby from pain.

Is circumcision optional?

Yes. Circumcision is a personal choice. Talk to your provider to learn about circumcision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says:

“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.

Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child. They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices.” (AAP Circumcision Policy Statement, 2012)

When is circumcision done?

If you decide to have your son circumcised, it’s usually done in the first 48 hours after birth, before you leave the hospital. Some boys are circumcised in the first few days of life at home as part of religious or cultural traditions.

It’s best to start thinking about circumcision before your baby is born. Put your decision in your birth plan and share your plan with your provider.

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and babies born with health problems should not be circumcised until their health is stable.

How do you care for your baby’s penis if he’s not circumcised?

Wash your baby’s penis with soap and water. Don’t try to retract (pull back) the foreskin. A young baby’s foreskin may not retract completely. Over time it retracts on its own.

How do you care for your baby’s penis after a circumcision?

Until your baby’s penis heals:

  • During bath time, wash the penis and diaper area with soap and warm water.
  • For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.

Last reviewed September 2012

See also: Giving your baby a bath


In the delivery room

  • Your baby gets a full checkup.
  • Your baby gets a test called an Apgar.
  • Your baby gets eye drops.
  • Your baby gets some shots.
  • You can breastfeed your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are vaccines safe for my baby?

Vaccines (also called immunizations) are one of the best ways to avoid serious diseases caused by some viruses or bacteria. For vaccines to be most successful, everyone needs to get their vaccine shots.

Several years ago, some people were concerned about thimerosal, a preservative used in some shots. Thimerosal contains mercury. Some people worried that thimerosal might cause autism. After a lot of careful research, medical experts found no link between thimerosal and autism. Still, to help ease some parents' concerns, thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines, except in tiny amounts in some flu shots. If you're concerned about thimerosal, ask your children's health care provider to use thimerosal-free vaccines.

Have questions?