My son is now 4 years old, but I still remember bringing my new baby home and giving him his first bath! We gave him sponge baths until his umbilical cord stump fell off. Then it was time to give him a real bath in his blue, whale-shaped infant tub. It was quite nerve racking, trying to keep my child from slipping into the water, but yet trying to wet his body, wash, rinse and dry him off! I remember wishing that I had as many arms as an octopus! I’m thankful now that he is old enough to take showers, but today I would like to share some tips with you to make bath time with an infant easier.
It’s important to have everything that you think you may need before actually placing your child in the water because, once they are there, you shouldn’t leave your baby alone to get supplies, or answer the door (or telephone). You should fill the tub with just a few inches of water prior to putting your baby in it; that way you can get the water to the correct temperature first. You want enough water to get the job done, but not too much to avoid sloshing around. By limiting the amount of water in the tub, you make keeping your baby’s head above water easier.
You can bathe your baby every day if you like, but you can also bathe as infrequently as two to three times per week. You can wash your baby with just plain water, but baby soaps, shampoos or body washes are fine, too. I would recommend that you use your non-dominant arm to hold and support your infant’s head and back so that you can use your dominant hand for cleaning. Work from the top down to keep areas that are already rinsed clean from getting soapy again. Pay close attention to the face and ears. After washing your baby’s hair, tilt your child’s head back slightly to avoid getting soap in the eyes or ears. You only need a small amount of mild soap or body wash on a washcloth before gently rubbing it on your baby’s body from the neck down. Remember to also lift and separate those skin folds in the armpits, neck and groin.
Have your washcloth (or two) and towel (or two) ready. Washcloths are handy wet for cleaning or dry for wiping off. Your newborn will appreciate a dry, soft, absorbent and cozy towel. You can use an infant hooded towel or a regular bath towel. Avoid large adult bath sheet towels – it makes it harder to work with your baby’s small body.
Newborns do not typically need moisturizers, but if you are going to use one, make sure that it is hypoallergenic. An oil-based moisturizer will work better than a water-based. If you are unsure of which brand to use, speak with your pediatrician.
Keep your diaper and supplies handy! A newborn will poop or pee anytime, including at bath time, so have your wipes and diapers nearby. Have a clean, dry outfit ready, because babies like to be warm and snuggly!