When you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you’ll have so many special moments and milestones to look forward to. As exciting as this is, it’s also terrifying to figure out how to do everyday activities with your littlest one in a safe and timely manner. To make things a tiny bit easier, here are tips on how to bathe a baby!
What you need to bathe a baby
Tip: These items make for great baby registry gifts. Click here for more Pregnancy Gifts.
- Baby tub
- Non-skid mat (to go under tub)
- Faucet cover
- Mild soap and shampoo
- Washcloth (or two)
- Cup or pitcher
- Towel (hooded towels are best)
Tip: You want to wait until baby’s umbilical cord has healed before bathing for the first time. If baby has been circumcised, be sure that healing is complete, too.
The set up:
It’s great to have a helper who can keep his or her hands on baby at all times for support and safety. No matter what happens (for example, if there’s a knock at the door or the phone rings), someone should always be supervising baby.
Place all of the bath supplies around baby’s tub. Make sure you can easily reach them without stepping away from baby – even for a couple of seconds.
Tip: Soap and shampoo bottles that can be opened with one hand or have a hand pump are especially useful.
The room should be warm enough so baby doesn’t get a chill, especially when she’s lifted from the warm water. Check for breezes or drafts from open windows or doors.
You only want around 3 inches of water in the bottom of the tub. The water should be around 32°C (90°F). Don’t keep the water running because the tub can fill up fast or the temperature could suddenly change.
Tip: Continually check the temperature by dipping your elbow in the water. It should feel warm, but never hot.
Some babies are stimulated by the water and want to play once they’ve dried off. Others are soothed by the water and are ready to sleep once bath time is over. Take note of how your baby reacts and time the baths accordingly.
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How to bathe a baby
Gently slide baby into the tub, starting with her feet. Always have one hand behind her head and neck. Slowly pour warm water over baby’s body using a cup or a pitcher.
Tip: If baby hates the tub, lay her on a towel and gently wash one part of her body at a time with a soft washcloth. Use the towel to cover up the parts that aren’t being washed so she stays warm and feels safe.
Put just a bit of soap on a washcloth (or on your hands) and gently wash baby from head to toe, front to back. Wash her face first and save the genital area for last.
Using a cup, rinse with warm water.
Tip: Look for mild soaps and shampoos, preferably ones made with all natural ingredients. Remember that baby’s skin is super sensitive!
Keep one hand supporting baby’s head and neck and slip the other hand under her bottom. If you can, wrap your fingers around one thigh because her skin will be slippery. Your helper can be waiting with a dry towel. If you’re by yourself, place baby on an open, dry towel and quickly wrap her up.
Tip: Babies lose heat through the tops of their heads, so hooded towels are especially comforting and cozy!
Gently pat baby with the towel, taking extra care when wiping her face.
One bath at a time
There’s no need to bathe baby every day; 2-3 times a week is usually sufficient. Of course, check with your doctor if baby has any special needs or requires particular skin treatments (like lotions or salves).
The key to bathing a baby is making sure she feels warm and safe through every stage. If your little one is fearful of the procedure, take one step at a time. Once she feels secure and trusting, there’s a good chance bath time will become her favorite part of the day.