5 Simple Steps to Bathing a Baby
5 Simple Steps to Bathing a Baby
Parenthood means learning lots of new skills. Once your new baby comes home from the hospital or birthing suite, mom and dad are in charge of her care and you may be wondering how often she needs a bath. Experts recommend bathing a newborn no more than 3 times per week, as too many baths can dry out her skin. After all, there will be plenty of time for more frequent baths when she’s crawling and getting into things. Bathing a baby can be fun and relaxing and only requires a little preparation.
Preparing for the bath
Before putting baby in the water, assemble all the necessary bath items such as mild baby shampoo and soap, a clean towel, and a washcloth, keeping each within easy reach. You’ll also need to ready some clean clothes, a fresh diaper, and, if you’d like, some hypoallergenic moisturizing baby lotion. Decide where you’d like to bathe your infant – the sink, a plastic tub, or baby bath tub are all good options – and line it with a clean folded towel so the surface is soft for baby. Two inches (5 cm) of warm water is plenty for newborns. Test the water with the inside of your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot. To prepare your baby, undress and wrap her in a dry towel so she doesn’t get chilly. Now you’re both ready to start!
Bathing your baby
To bathe your newborn baby, follow these 5 simple steps:
- Allow for plenty of time – Taking a bath should be a relaxing, soothing experience for both you and your baby, so try not to rush.
- Move slowly – Gently guide your baby into the water feet first and pour warm water onto her body with your cupped hand or a small cup.
- Wipe clean – Start by wiping baby’s eyes, face, and head with a damp washcloth. Next, work the baby soap into the washcloth, softly wiping down the rest of her body. Remember to clean the creases and folds and between each tiny finger and toe! Gently massage baby’s scalp with baby shampoo and rinse.
- Offer comfort – Speak soothingly to your baby throughout the bath. Often, newborns don’t enjoy baths – it makes them feel cold, wet, and exposed – so don’t be worried when she gets upset.
- Dry and dress – Wrap baby in a dry towel, ideally one with a hood to keep her head warm. Apply moisturizing baby lotion and dress her. If she’s very upset, try to swaddle or wrap her in a blanket to warm her up and settle down.
Until the stump of the umbilical cord falls out (usually one or two weeks after birth), your baby should not be submerged in water. Sponge baths are sufficient to clean your baby during this time. To give your baby a sponge bath, pad a flat surface with a folded towel or blanket. Prepare your bath items (as suggested above) and wrap your undressed baby in a dry towel. Use a damp, clean washcloth with or without a mild baby soap and begin wiping baby’s head, then work your way down her body. Expose only the anatomy that is being cleaned. Once the umbilical cord falls out, baby is ready for her first real bath!
It’s very important to understand that you should never leave your baby alone in the water, even if it’s only an inch or two deep and only if it’s just for a moment. Pull your baby out of the water if there are any interruptions. Though baths can be given at any time of day, a soothing, warm bath is a great way to help your baby wind down for sleep.
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Do you have any baby bath tips to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!