How to Care for Your Uncircumcised Baby Boy
More and more parents are choosing not to circumcise their newborn sons, but they may not know what to expect from caring for their uncircumcised, or “intact,” son.
One father learned this firsthand when he was told by two different doctors two different ways on how to care for his son's penis. “Doctors tell you never ever retract a baby's foreskin. Ever. Never ever,” he told me. “We say, ‘OK, got it.' Two-and-a-half years later, having never retracted it, we're in urgent care with some nasty awfulness down there I don't want to even describe. Poor son. The doc (a different one) says, ‘Why have you never cleaned your child's foreskin?' So, apparently, you should never retract it, but never retracting it leads to infection. Apparently everyone has a different opinion!”
Ouch. So what are the guidelines for uncircumcised care?
Step 1: Do nothing. No, really. As Sarah Resterpo, a mom of two boys, ages 2 and 3 months, explained, a baby's foreskin will still be fused to his penis, so it literally requires no care at all. “There's really nothing much to it. I just wipe him clean,” she said. “There's no skin retraction or anything like that. The foreskin is fused to the head of the penis while they're little, so you don't have to do anything other than wipe the outside clean.”
Step 2: Separation. Eventually, as the American Academy of Pediatrics explains, foreskin separation naturally occurs anywhere from the first years of life, all the way up to ten. When separation occurs, parents (or the child) can simply pull the foreskin back and wash normally.
Kristine Ginther, a mom of six, has five boys, all of whom are uncircumcised, explained that it's important to never force the separation. “It's a patience game,” she noted. After separation does occur naturally, Ginther teaches her sons to just move the foreskin to clean it every time they bathe.
“When they get older, it's just a friendly reminder for them to do it themselves, and eventually, you don't need to say anything because it becomes habit,” she said. “Honestly, to them, it's about as routine as brushing their teeth. Sure, when they are younger, they need reminding, but it's all part of life.”
Step 3: Carry on. The biggest surprise of uncircumcised care may come that it's not really a big deal at all. “It hasn't been an ‘extra' or a big deal at all,” Mary Kate Dempsey explained, whose intact sons range from ages 3 to 20. “There have been no problems so far and no extra cleaning,” noted another mother. “Regular amount of bathing and bathroom trips/care. It's never been infected or needed anything special.”
For more on uncircumcised care, you can browse HealthyChildren.org, and if you see any signs of redness or infection, be sure to speak to your health care provider.