How to Bathe Your Newborn

A first time parent will most likely be filled with just as much fear as joy when they first bring home their new baby. The tiny little infant seems both so intimidating and fragile. Bath time is especially a nerve-racking event, as a squirmy baby is very vulnerable when slippery and wet. However, it will soon become second nature for both parties and also a time of fun and bonding.

For the first week or two, it is sponge baths only for baby until the umbilical cord stump falls off. Any moisture that touches the stump will only rehydrate it, extending the time before it heals and dries up. Until then, it is only necessary to spot clean baby with soap and water. Be sure to do this on a flat, safe surface. It isn’t necessary to completely undress the newborn for a sponge bath, as he will get cold very easily.

Once the cord stump falls off, it is time for baby’s first real bath! This can be done in a plastic, infant tub or in the sink. It is safest in an infant tub, as they are specially designed for securing the little one. Your best bet will be one that transitions from newborn to toddler. A detachable hammock for the infant tubs is perfect, as it nestles the newborn in and doesn’t completely submerge him in water. Every baby reacts differently to the tub the first time, but the hammock will help him transition to the feeling of being in a tub.

Drawing the water is the first step in bathing and it is very important to adjust the water to the right temperature. The water should be approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees Celsius. Before baby is placed in the bath, make sure everything you need is there within arm’s reach. Forgetting something means doing without because baby is to never be left alone while you run and grab something, not even for a second. In fact, you should always have at least one hand on the baby.

Next, you should completely undress baby and place him gently into the tub, feet first. Be sure to support the head and neck while you do this. Many babies are startled by this experience, either fussing or becoming very quiet and wide-eyed. Newborns become cold very easily, so be sure to regularly scoop handfuls of water onto his upper body in an effort to keep him warm. Use baby-safe soap sparingly and be careful of his eyes. A soft washcloth should be used for cleaning the baby.

Moist cotton balls can be used around sensitive areas such as the eyes and mucous membranes. The baby’s genitals and behind just need a general cleaning like the rest of his body. An uncircumcised male should never have his foreskin retracted for cleaning- this foreskin will retract naturally when the boy is older. For now, it may hurt him. Wash baby’s hair last so he won’t become too cold during the bath. Rinse hair carefully, cupping one hand above the eyes in protection. Now, the baby should be squeaky clean!

There is no need for a baby bath to last very long. Five minutes should do the trick, as they aren’t really old enough to play in the tub yet and the water will become cool fairly quickly. A towel should be in arm’s reach. Ideally, this should be a two-man job: one person to tightly hold on to baby and pull him out, one to safely wrap baby into the towel. A hooded towel is ibest because body heat is lost so quickly through the head. Now, diaper that baby before he gets cold!

It is a good idea to moisturize baby after his bath with baby lotion. His skin is very sensitive and will lose moisture from the water. Another way to keep baby’s skin from drying out is to avoid overly frequent bathing. A newborn isn’t mobile yet, so he won’t be getting that dirty. One or two baths a week is all they need at this age. Spot cleaning between baths should do the trick. Soon enough, you will be a pro at bathing your little one and before you know it, he’ll be bathing himself. Good luck with your new baby!

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