One of the first things you will notice, as a new parent, is just how tiny your new bundle of joy is! While you will simply be amazed most of the time, when it comes to the mechanics of bathing, you will probably be in a mild panic, especially if this is your first child, and you have never had to bath such a tiny person before!
In this article, we look at how to make bath times with your newborn more fun, and a little easier on both of you.
Ask the Nurses in the Hospital
Most of us have our own mothers, or at least an older friend around, to show us how to go about the business of baby bathing for the first time. However, if you do not have someone on hand to show you how it is done, do not be shy to ask the nurses in the hospital for a demonstration. Most maternity ward nurses know everything there is to know about bathing babies, and they are usually only too willing to share their knowledge.
If you are concerned about your baby’s umbilical stump, do not be. Unless there is infection, your baby does not feel much through the area of the cord, but if you are still concerned, you could try giving your newborn sponge baths with lukewarm water for the first week or so. A cloth, and some clean luke-warm water is all you need to give your new born a sponge bath, and try to focus on the hands, feet, face and genital area.
The Baby Bath
Because newborns are so very tiny, it may be best to use a specially-made baby bath for the job. You can put it on a table or raised surface, so that you do not have to lean over too far, and make sure that you only fill it with a few centimetres of water at a time. Applying non-slip stickers to the base of the bath is a good idea, but you could also use a towel, submerged in the water, to make sure that your baby does not slip and slide.
When you bath your baby, remember that the water you use really only needs to be luke-warm. Any hotter than that, and you may scald your baby’s delicate skin. Consider investing in a baby bath thermometer, which can be submerged in the water, but usually, if you test the water with your hand, and it feels just a little bit on the warm side on your skin, it is perfect for baby.
Newborns actually don’t get that dirty on a day-to-day basis, so you don’t really need to use fancy bath products. However, if you’re going to use soaps, bubble baths, shampoos and other products, make sure that you only buy those products that are specifically designed for babies. Look for hypoallergenic products, and if your baby does seem sensitive to even baby products, opt for unscented ones, as it’s often the perfume that’s the problem.
You’ll also need lotion, nappies, and a towel for after the bath, as well as your baby’s clean clothes. You don’t want to be scrabbling around to find any of these after the bath, particularly if it’s cold!
How to Bath Your Baby
First, you need to understand that some babies love the hot water in the bath, while others hate it! Both are normal reactions, so don’t worry too much.
Run the water into the bath, and test the temperature. Don’t put your baby in the bath before the water has finished running, or it might be too hot, without you knowing about it. When you do place your baby in the bath, use one hand to loop behind your baby’s back, and gently hold the arm on his or her far side with your hand. This supports your baby, prevents slipping, and gives you one hand free to wash your baby.
Wash your baby gently, with a soft cloth or sponge, and don’t use too much soap – it can dry your baby’s skin out. Use your free hand or a cup to gently pour water over your baby, to rinse him or her off, and keep your baby from getting too cold.
The first few times bathing your baby can be scary for both of you, but you’ll soon get used to it, and if you follow the bath with a massage, before putting your baby’s nappy and clothes on, you can make it a lovely bonding experience too. Just remember the golden rule: never, ever leave a baby or child alone in the bath, or near water!
– Tamara Aspeling