If you’ve never bathed a newborn baby, you might worry that you’ll do something wrong. Don’t worry! Newborn bathing is not as complicated as you think and once you do it a few times, you’ll be an old pro. Pretty soon you and your baby will look forward to bath time and a chance to bond. Here are some tips for bathing a new born and making the experience comfortable and relaxing for everyone.
Until your baby’s umbilical cord drops off, stick to sponge baths. When you sponge bathe your baby, lay them on a flat surface, like a counter, with a soft blanket underneath for comfort. Make sure your baby is not at risk of falling. For added security, use a safety strap.
When you’re ready to wash, start with the head and scalp. Use a sponge or soft washcloth to gently cleanse each body part, beginning at the top and working your way down, avoiding the eyes. Use a mild, tearless soap, preferably one that’s organic. Then, use a warm, damp cloth to remove the soap. Keep the umbilical stump as dry as possible.
Once the umbilical stump detaches after a few weeks, it’s time to give your newborn their first bath. For bathing, use a special plastic tub designed for babies or a bathinette. Place a soft towel on the floor of the tub to make the surface softer. Then assemble your supplies – baby soap, washcloth, and towel. Make sure you have the supplies you need within easy reach before beginning the bath.
When filling the tub, be aware of the water temperature. Use your hand or arm to test the temp before placing baby inside. The water should feel warm but not hot to your touch. Always check the temperature before placing your baby inside. Remember, this is a new experience for your baby. Keep the first foray into the tub brief and as comfy as possible.
Once you’ve tackled baby’s first bath and all goes well, resist the urge to bathe your little one too often. As long as you’re cleaning the diaper area, your baby doesn’t need a full body bath more than a few times a week. Bathing more often can disrupt the moisture layer that protects a baby’s delicate skin against dryness and itching. To protect against moisture loss, apply a layer of organic, fragrance-free body lotion formulated for babies to help prevent dryness.
Remember, babies learn to love or fear baths based on their first experiences. Make it as cozy and relaxed as possible so that your baby enjoys the feeling of warm water touching their skin and the joy of splashing their hands against the surface and “making waves.” You can even use bath time to lightly massage your baby. It’s bonding time! As your baby becomes more familiar with being in water, make bath time longer.
Never leave a baby in a tub or any water unattended, even for a few seconds. If possible, have another family member help the first few times until you master the art of bathing a young baby. In this case, two pairs of hands are better than one.
Bathing a newborn is usually a challenge but it won’t be long before bath time becomes a routine and, hopefully, one your little one enjoys. Set the stage by making the first few experiences as soothing and comfortable as possible.
HealthyChildren.org. “Bathing Your Newborn”