Many new parents are shocked to find that the first few bath experiences for baby may be downright frightful! As baby wiggles and hollers, you may be tempted to think, “Didn’t you just spend the past 40 weeks in a warm water bath of sorts in my tummy?”
Over time, however, babies typically come to love their baths, and it’s a great bonding time for parents and baby. Follow these simple steps to set the stage for success with baby’s bath each and every time.
Never leave baby unattended in bath water, even to turn around “just for a minute…”
Bathe baby before feeding to reduce the risk of her having a bowel movement during her bath
Don’t bathe your baby every day – two to three times a week is more typical; daily bathing can cause skin irritation and remove your baby’s natural moisture barrier. Daily, gently wiping her genital and rectal areas at each diaper change with warm water, and washing her face and neck areas after feeding also with warm water is enough.
Gather your supplies ahead of the bath – including warm towels, a soft wash cloth, rinse water, diapers and clean clothes ahead of time.
Bathe baby in a warm room free from drafts and moving air.
Fill the tub with warm water and have it ready to go before you bring baby to the bath. Use warm water for bathing; check the water temp with a thermometer if you have one, it should be no more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit..
Avoid soaps, and instead choose gentle, preservative-free cleansers designed for infant skin with a neutral pH to decrease the risk of skin irritation.
Lower baby into water deep enough to cover her shoulders and cover her body with a warm wash cloth to help keep her warm.
Immerse baby’s umbilical cord; it’s OK to get baby’s umbilical cord wet unless your pediatrician has given you reasons not to immerse the cord.
Support baby’s head and neck in your forearm at all times.
Clean from top to bottom, starting with baby’s face, and moving to her dirtiest for last, her buttocks. When cleaning her eyes, sweep from the inner to outer eyes using one clean corner of the washcloth per eye. This helps to reduce the risk of an infection spreading from one eye to the other.
Wash her hair and massage the scalp – you know how good this feels at the salon, so give your baby that same gentle fingertip massage at home as well.
Lift her chin to clean her neck folds, where milk often collects.
Clean genitals by washing your baby girl from front to back to decrease the risk of cystitis. For your baby boy, lift and gently clean the scrotum and cleanse the area.
Rinse baby’s body from top to bottom to complete the bath.
Gently lift baby from the bath and wrap in a warm towel before patting baby dry. Then dress baby in a clean diaper and warm, snuggly clothes.