Bath time – usually the time of day when you can relax and soak away the worries of the day. When you have a baby however, bath time takes on a whole new meaning – and the first bath can be the most difficult and stressful for new parents. Here are some tips to make bath time, fun time!
The first thing you need to do is relax. This is harder than it sounds, but being anxious about bathing your baby, can have a negative effect on your little one. Remember that they pick up on every emotion you have, so you might end up making them frightened of bathing.
Babies naturally love the water. They have been living in a watery home for the last 9 months or so, so bath time is actually quite calming for them. It is the getting out that is the hard part, especially in the winter months. The sudden cold air against their skins will usually provoke some tears, but as long as you remain calm, and get them dried and dressed efficiently, bath time will eventually become fun for them.
For your baby’s very first bath, here are some simple steps to make the process easier on you and baby.
1) Ensure that you have everything prepared before you start. Get out your baby’s towel, a clean nappy, body cream, barrier cream, clothes, surgical spirits and ear buds (to clean the umbilical cord), and blankets.
2) If it is cold, set up a heater in the nursery and let it get nice and warm.
3) Make sure that there are no drafts coming into the nursery where you are bathing your baby.
4) Fill your baby bath with warm water. Use a thermometer to check that the water is not to hot or too cold. It should be between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius.
5) Make sure that you have all the wash cloths, baby shampoo and soaps at the bath ready to use.
6) The first thing you will do is wash your baby’s hair or head. Make sure you wrap them snugly in the towel to stop them squirming, and also to calm them. Place your hand around the back of the neck and block their ears with your thumb and middle finger to prevent water from getting in. Hold them over the bath and slowly scoop some water over their head, taking care not to get it in their eyes. Talk, look and smile at your baby the entire time to show them how wonderful bath time is. Once you have washed and rinsed the shampoo off, cover their head with the hood of the towel and rub it dry as you lift them back onto the changing mat.
7) Now for the tricky part – getting them undressed. A newborn will usually fuss when you are undressing them as you are pulling them around and they can be a bit uncomfortable. One you have clothes and nappy off, remember to keep them covered with a blanket or towel as you lift them into the bath so that they don’t get too cold and start fussing.
8) To put your baby into the bath, use the safety grip, which is to put your arm across their back, under them and grip under the upper arm furthest away from you. Some babies prefer to go in tummy first. You will then hold them across their chest under the arms and grip onto the upper arm furthest away from you. Their little chin should rest on your forearm.
9) Be very careful if you have applied the soap beforehand! They will be slippery. Once in the water though, they should settle nicely (as long as you are calm) and this will give you enough of time to wash the soap off and clean in all the little creases.
10) Once you have finished the washing, lift your baby onto the towel and wrap them up snugly in it right away. This is probably the most stressful time for your baby, coming out of a warm bath into the cold air, so it is normal for them to cry. Rub them as fast as you can to get them dry, but take care to dry in the crease of the neck, leg and arm folds and any other skin folds, to prevent sores and rashes.
11) Keep their body covered with the towel while you dry one part and then cover that part while you dry the next. Once they are completely dry you can apply your cream, clean the umbilical cord, get the fresh nappy on and dress them.
A quick brush of the hair, a kiss on the cheek, and voila, your first time bathing baby is complete!