New moms may feel apprehensive about bathing their tiny new babies. Have no fear: just follow these tips to make bath time a breeze.
1. Start Small
Your baby is little, so his bathtub should be too. When you start bathing a baby, it’s easier to do it in the sink, or use a small plastic tub. Also, he doesn’t need much water. An inch of water is plenty, especially since you’ll want to lay your baby down in the tub. Remember to always keep at least one hand on your infant while in the bath.
Important tip: If your newborn still has an umbilical cord stump, stick to simple sponge baths so it stays dry and clean.
2. Be Prepared
Before you bath your baby, gather up all your supplies, including a washcloth, baby soap, a clean towel, diaper and clothes. Place everything in arm’s reach—it’s important to keep your eyes and at least one hand on your baby at all times. And make sure that the bottles are open and ready to pour; the last thing you want to be doing is trying to rip a safety seal off a bottle of baby wash while supporting your baby with one arm.
3. Ditch the Daily Dips
Babies don’t need a bath everyday. Plan on bathing your baby no more than a couple of times a week—any more can be too drying on your baby’s skin. Just make sure to stay vigilant about keeping his face, hands and diaper are clean between washes.
4. Timing is Everything
You’ll want to pick a good time of day when your baby well-rested and not hungry—but not after eating because he might spit up. I recommend giving a bath in the evening, about an hour after feeding, and before putting him down for the night, because the warm water can help your baby feel drowsy and ready to settle down for sleep.
5. Check the Water Temperature
Your baby’s skin is more sensitive than adults, so make sure to pay attention to the water temperature—water that feels pleasantly toasty warm to you is probably too hot for your baby. Test the water before you put your baby in with your elbow or the inside of your wrist; the water should be warm, not hot. Using a baby bath thermometer is especially helpful.
6. Use a Bath Mat
A wet and soapy baby is a slippery one. A bath pad or a towel is helpful for keeping your slippery little one in one spot. You can also line our sink or tub with a towel which adds a bit of warmth and comfort.
7. Have a Helper
Bring her over to the bath area, remove her clothes and diaper, and gently lower her into the water using one arm to hold her up. This can be nerve-racking to do alone, so try to have someone help you. Ask someone to hold the baby while you wash her down, or vice versa, at least until you get used to the routine. It’s a good idea to help your baby relax by talking or singing to her or distract her with a toy until she gets used to the bath.
8. Save the Shampoo for Last
If you are washing your baby’s hair, save i for last so your baby won’t sit in sudsy water which an be drying. And, wet hair will make your baby feel colder, so it’s best to get her out ASAP after shampooing.
9. Soothe Your Baby
Although you love nothing more than a warm bath, your baby is more likely to see it as yet another shockingly new experience, and one that she may not like very much. If this is the case, do things to ease her discomfort such as using a lot of skin-to-skin contact, singing softly to her, talking to her in a soothing voice, playing some soft music in the background, or bringing one of her favorite toys to distract her. It’s not easy to see such a tiny baby cry, but don’t get freaked out. It’s just a little water and they do need to be washed.
10. Keep Baby Warm
Wet babies can easily become chilled, so throughout bath time, it’s important to keep your little one warm. Ensure that the water is warm and the air in the bathroom is comfortably warm as well. You can also consider turning your thermostat up before you put your baby in the bath. That way, your little one will stay cozy when he’s both in and out of the water, which might keep tears at bay.
After the bath, wrap your baby up in a soft, clean towel an give her a little snuggle. A hooded towel keeps your baby feeling cozy and looking cute.
What tips do you have for bathing a newborn?
Hello, I’m Kelly, a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.
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