Bathing a baby has to be one of the scariest and stressful things to do for any new parent. For me, even the second time around, I was so nervous bathing my newborn daughter. They’re so tiny. The water makes them slippery. I thought, “What if I drop her?” Thankfully, her first bath went without a hitch. She actually enjoyed it. The ones thereafter were just as easy as a diaper change. Now, I get to pass on helpful tips to you. Keep on reading for tips for bathing your newborn safely.
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When Should You Bathe Your Baby
When I had my daughter, her pediatrician suggested she could have her first real bath once her umbilical cord fell off and healed. This can be anywhere between one to four weeks. For her, this was around 1 1/2 weeks. In the meantime, she was given sponge baths. The good thing about babies is they don’t get too dirty, aside from the occasional spit-up and diaper blowouts, there’s no stinky sweat to deal with. Therefore, giving a baby a bath daily is not necessary. In fact, over bathing a baby can cause their delicate skin to become irritated. Unless they’re having major diaper blowouts on a daily basis, it’s really unnecessary to bathe babies every day. Save that for the days they’re moving all over the place – crawling, walking, and getting messy with food.
Until the baby starts getting down and dirty on the ground, a daily bath isn’t needed. In fact, your newborn baby will only really need a bath two or three times a week — at first a sponge bath, until his umbilical cord stump heals (about one to four weeks after birth), then a baby tub bath, and eventually a tub bath, when baby can sit up on his own and outgrows the infant tub). There’s nothing cuter than seeing a baby splashing in the bath, soapy suds dotting his chubby folds and dimples.
Find a Routine and Stick to It
It is so, so important to get into a rhythm when you have a baby. I, like, many other parents have found the best way to start a routine, especially at night, is with a nice warm bath. I touched on this a bit here. The Lumi App has been wonderful in helping track my daughter’s sleep patterns, which, in turn, has helped drill down on our nightly sleep routine which begins with some form of bathing.
Related: The Lumi Baby Monitor Takes the Guesswork Out of Baby Sleep Routines
Create a Safe, Warm Space for Bathing
Just like with sleep, babies need a safe space for bathing to prevent water-related injuries like drowning. The room also needs to be warm. While the bathroom is the most logical place for a bath, it doesn’t have to be for a baby. Any room that is warm, safe, and clean is perfect for giving a baby a bath.
You’ll want to make sure you have all the supplies you need ready to go. If you’re not sure what you need, here’s a shortlist of what you should have on hand.
- Baby bath – I love the 4moms cleanwater Tub for Newborns because of the temperature sensor. Babies bath water should be between 98-100º F. This tub indicates whether the water is too cold (blue light), too hot (red light), or just perfect (green light).
- Soft towel – Baby towels are cute, but I prefer a large, white, soft absorbent cotton towel.
- Soft washcloth – Babies, especially in the newborn phase do not need to be exfoliated. Therefore, soft washcloths are best.
- Baby shampoo/body wash – something gentle and align with the baby’s skin pH level.
- Plastic cup – This is for easily rinsing the baby.
- Change of clothes and a clean diaper – Have these in the same room so that the baby is kept warm after bathing while you’re dressing them.
Don’t Fill the Tub
A safe water level when giving a baby a bath is about 2″ – 3″. For additional support, and to prevent slipping, you can place a small towel or washcloth at the bottom of the tub.
How to Bathe Your Baby
Now that the space you’re using to give your baby a bath is ready, it’s time to give your baby a bath!
- Start with their head and face first to ensure you’re using clean, soap-free water.
- After their head and face are clean, you can move onto the other areas of their body like their stomach, arms, back, and legs.
- Ensure you are washing the folds. Babies, especially the little chunky ones have tons of folds. Make sure you’re getting those too, as well as between the fingers and toes.
- Lastly, thoroughly clean their genital area with water. This should be last so that bacteria from down there doesn’t spread to anywhere else on their bodies preventing rashes. It makes sense.
Related: My List of Most Used Baby Products During the First Three Months
Although bathing your new baby may seem scary – it was for me – take your time, even if it takes an hour. That is okay. In time, and with these tips, baby bathtime will be a smooth process and done in minutes.