Bathing a Newborn
Giving a newborn baby a bath can be tricky and cause a great deal of stress for new parents. Safety is always at the top of the priority list when it comes to bathing a newborn. There are many things new parents have to experiment with until they find a routine or system that works for them and their new baby. Some tips follow that may help new parents as they try to safely bathe their newborns.
For the first week or two of the baby’s life, it is wise to give sponge baths. A damp, warm washcloth is the perfect tool for a baby’s first few baths. During the sponge bath, wash the baby’s hands and face thoroughly. After each diaper change, it is a good idea to use a damp, warm washcloth in the genital areas as well.
A good indicator of when a baby is ready for a tub bath is when the umbilical cord stump fully heals from drying up and falling off. Rather than using the big tub in the bathroom, it is wise to start off with the kitchen sink or a small washtub. When babies grow to be infants and can sit up independently, a standard tub is appropriate for baths.
When tubs are used for bathing newborns, there are a couple of things parents need to be aware of for their baby’s safety.
1. Make sure there is never more than two inches or five centimeters of water in the tub. A baby’s head should never be able to be fully submerged.
2. Make sure there is no running water. Bathe the baby after the tub is already filled, not while the water is filling.
3. Place the baby into the tub feet first, supporting its neck and head during the entire bathing experience.
4. Make sure all necessary supplies are within arm’s reach, as parents should never leave their babies unattended in any bathtubs.
How often should parents bathe their newborns? Before a baby begins to crawl around and explore on the floor, they do not need to have daily baths. As long as they are still immobile, a sponge or tub bath two to three times a week would suffice as long as they remain clean after diaper changes. In fact, bathing a newborn too often can cause dry skin.
Once the newborn starts crawling around on the floor and getting into messes, parents need to increase the frequency of baths. Depending on the mess, it may be wise to bathe the baby nightly. Some can get away with bathing every other day.
When bathing a newborn, it is important to use mild soap sparingly. It is not necessary to fully lather up a baby. Moisturizing soap is a good choice as it is critical not to let a baby’s skin dry out. Use a washcloth or hands to spread the soap around, from head to toe, both in front and back. Use a cup to rinse the baby off when ready. For safety reasons, running water from a tap should never be used to rinse of a baby.
It is not necessary for parents to use separate soaps, shampoos, and conditioners for their babies. Usually, parents can find products that are combinations, using the same thing for both the baby’s hair and body. Using one combined soap and shampoo for the entire body should suffice when bathing a newborn.
Some babies love being in the warm water and find the experience extremely soothing; other babies cry through the entire bathing process. Once the baby is squeaky clean, parents can pat dry them in a hooded towel. If their skin is dry or still peeling from birthing, a mild baby lotion can be used.
No matter how much the baby enjoys the bath, it is important for parents to bathe their newborns regularly. Setting up a routine or calendar is a great idea at first until it becomes a habit. At first, it is helpful to have another adult around for another pair of hands, but once the routine is down, one parent can usually handle the process alone.
Although bathing a newborn can be a scary experience at first, after a while, it can become an important bonding time between parent and child