Do's and Don'ts for Uncircumcised Babies

How to care for your newborn's natural penis

A sleeping newborn baby boy.
Westend61/Getty Images

Caring for uncircumcised babies is not much different than caring for infants who have been circumcised. In fact, gentle, external cleaning during diaper changes and external washing with soap and water during bath time are all that's necessary.

That said, there's a lot of confusing, conflicting or just plain wrong information about how to care for uncircumcised babies. And improper care can lead to a child needing a circumcision later in life. This often happens after a parent is instructed to retract his child's foreskin before it is ready to be retracted.

Caring for Your Infant's Uncircumcised Penis

Here's what to do (and what not to do) to keep your child clean and healthy.


  • Let nature take its course and leave the foreskin alone until it begins to retract on its own.
  • Change diapers frequently and wipe clean externally.
  • Bath often with soap and water.
  • Call your pediatrician if the foreskin becomes red, painful or and itchy. This could be a sign of infection or of balanoposthitis, or inflammation of the foreskin and tip of the penis, which can be caused by not cleaning the uncircumcised penis properly.


  • Pull hard on the foreskin to separate it. Forcing back the foreskin, which is almost always attached to the glans, can cause pain, bleeding or permanent damage to the penis. The natural separation of the foreskin from the glans may take many years.
  • Clean underneath with Q-tips, irrigation, antiseptics or special ointments or creams. Normal soap and water externally will work just fine.
  • Be alarmed by whitish discharge coming from underneath the foreskin. This is called infant smegma and is completely normal. Skin cells shed naturally and gather underneath and are pushed out from under the foreskin all the time. Just gently wipe these "white pearls" away during a bath or diaper change.

When Will the Foreskin Retract?

When a male child is born, his penis still has an extra layer of skin protection over the head (glans). This layer is called the "foreskin" or "prepuce." At birth, the foreskin is still attached to the head of the penis.

As the boy gets older, the foreskin begins to separate naturally from the head of the penis. In some children, it may happen before they are even born, though this is rare. Most parents can expect this to happen within a few months or even years. Each child is different, and this is perfectly normal.

While most children will experience this by age 5, know that for others it may not occur until adolescence. Your child will be the best judge of when this has happened. All children discover their genitals and so it should be your child that first discovers that he can retract his own foreskin.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources