While many of your first motherly duties will just come naturally to you, some things may need a bit more preparation, such as learning about how to give your baby her first bath.
When getting ready for your baby’s first bath, you’ll want to keep certain things in mind so everyone is safe and having a good time.
Bathing your new baby can be a fun bonding experience for both parents, when you’re doing everything right. Here are 10 tips to get you started for your baby’s first bath.
1. Sponge it
Because the cord stump will still be attached to your newborn for a while, it’s best that you don’t submerse your baby in water for the first bath. This is because if the stump doesn’t dry properly, it could get infected. So what you could do instead is to wet a washcloth with warm water, wring out the excess water, and wipe your baby gently all over, starting from top of her body, and working your way to the bottom.
2. Watch for creases
Pay extra attention to cleaning creases on your baby’s body, especially around the neck. Milk tends to dribble down there and might be easily missed due to excess skin. Be sure to clean this area as well as other folds of skin especially well. Don’t forget to wash the palms of your baby’s hands too – this is another spot that can easily be missed as newborns often tend to keep their hands clenched.
3. Hands on
Keep your hands on the baby at all times. Once the umbilical stump falls off, baby can be placed in a small amount of water in a bathtub or clean sink. Even if there is only a tiny amount of water in the bath, hold your baby with one hand at all times. Remember she will be like a rather floppy little doll till she’s at least a few months old so holding her is really important till she is able to sit up and also keep her head up by herself.
4. Daily bathing
Newborns do not need to be bathed every day unless circumstances warrant a good cleaning. However, if you want to bathe them every single day, there is no harm in that either. A baby who spits up a lot will probably need a bath every day to clean all traces of spit-up and milk.
5. Watch the face
Always start the bath by washing your baby’s face with water only. Just wipe all over the face with a wet wash cloth. Then you may move on to the rest of the body with an appropriate baby soap.
Gently massage your baby’s scalp with a wash cloth to keep dead skin from building up, which can cause cradle cap. The keyword here is gently though. Pay special attention to avoiding the soft spot on your baby’s head.
7. Get comfortable
There will be people who insist that the sink is the best place to bathe a baby, people who swear by only using a certain type of bath tun, or others who claim babies should NEVER be in the shower with you.
You really don’t have to listen to any one of them. Do what you as a parent are comfortable with. If you prefer showering with your baby and you are very careful about it, then do it. If you like the sink, bathe the baby there or if you are more comfortable with a bath-tub, then so be it!
8. Warm is nice
Before you even begin bathing your little one, do ensure that the bathing room is warm, whether it be the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. Your baby will be naked and then wet, and without much body fat at this point, will be very cold and probably very cranky. Turn up the heat wherever the bath is. Also, have a towel/blanket immediately available after the bath. Don’t forget to always check the temperature of the bath water too, to make sure it is not too hot or too cold.
9. Be prepared
Be prepared for a baby who hates the first few baths. Babies like to be warm, snuggled, and held tight. Baths take all of these comforts away. Do not fret though, they will only scream through the first few baths usually and then grow to accept them and even love them!
Try not to stress too much about bathing your newborn. As parents, you instinctively know when your baby is not happy or comfortable. Your baby's safety and happiness are of utmost importance and this applies to bath-time too. And remember, practice makes perfect, so it’s a no-brainer that soon you’ll be a pro at bathing your little one, even if she protests at the beginning!
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Last Published* May, 2023
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.