How to bathe a babyJuly 26, 2017
If your baby takes to bathing like the proverbial rubber duck to water, then bath-time can be a truly soothing and pleasurable ritual for both of you.
That said, if they are not overly keen you don’t actually need to bathe your baby every day until they are crawling about and getting much messier.
Instead, you can use a flannel to give them a sponge bath for the bits that tend to need a clean, such as the face, neck and bottom.
In fact, until the umbilical cord or a circumcision has healed, you should only use this technique for cleaning your baby as a bath is out of bounds.
Fortunately, when your baby is ready and willing to bathe it can be a pure pleasure.
Here are a few tips on how to bathe a baby and maximise those bath time smiles:
• Try not to bathe your baby just before a feed or when they are tired, as a bath is much more likely to seem like an unwanted disruption.
• Similarly, it is not a good idea to bathe your baby straight after a feed, as they may start spitting up due to too much handling when full.
• Make sure that the room you are bathing them in is at a comfortable temperature, so they don’t get upset by feeling chilly.
• Before you start, check you have everything you need to hand:
o a baby bath or clean washing-up bowl filled with warm water
o two soft clean flannels
o cotton wool
o a towel, preferably with a hood
o baby hair and body wash or separate baby soap and shampoo
o a clean nappy
o nappy spray or, if needed nappy rash cream
o clean clothes
• Then, before you even put your baby in the bath, there are a few things you need to do. First, make sure you add water to the bath before you put your baby in it. Fill it with enough water to cover part of your baby’s body but don’t make it too deep. Check the water with your wrist or elbow to make sure it is a comfortable temperature and remember to mix the water well to avoid pockets of hot water that could scald your baby.
• Lower your baby into the bath in a semi-reclining position, supporting their neck and head and holding them firmly in case they jump in surprise when lowered into the water.
• Remember to speak to your baby in soothing tones to help keep them calm and reassured. If they are frightened of bathing and start crying, it might help to try bathing with them. That said, getting in and out of a bath while holding a baby can be tricky, so where possible ask someone else to hold your baby while you do this.
• Make sure you keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Then, using your free hand gently swish water over your baby’s body without splashing.
• Remember to clean from the cleanest to the dirtiest areas to minimise the spread of germs to other parts of the body.
• First, start with the eyes, using a separate sterile cottonwool ball soaked in warm water to clean each eye from the nose outwards.
• Then using a soft flannel, wash the face, ears and neck, working on down your baby’s front to the abdomen and below. Although you will need to use baby soap or body wash on dirty areas every day, such as hands and the nappy area, you can use it every couple of days on other parts, which can help prevent skin drying in these areas.
• When you have washed the baby’s front parts, turn them over on your arm and wash their back and bottom.
• Take a fresh flannel and rinse your baby thoroughly to ensure all the soap is washed off.
• You should also wash your baby’s hair once or twice a week, using a mild baby shampoo. You can do this at the end of the bathing routine once they progress to the main bath in the house, but whilst they are very little it may be easier to do this separately over a sink.
• Once you have finished bathing your baby, lift them out of the bath, wrap them gently in a soft towel and pat them dry, paying particular attention to creases in their skin. A hooded towel can be ideal for this, as it is less likely to slip off and it will keep baby’s head warm while being dried.
A few cautions on how to bathe a baby
Before you bathe your baby there are also a few important things to take into account.
• Avoid using soaps and body wash on your newborn as plain water is best for your baby’s skin in the first month.
• Similarly, avoid using oils or lotions to massage your baby after their bath until they are at least a month old.
• Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a couple of seconds to fetch something that you think is important, as there is a very real risk of drowning.
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our tips on how to bathe a baby. For more useful tips and insights into bringing up baby just click here to visit our Real Parenting blog.
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