Baby's first everything is a bit scary for new parents, but it will be a great experience if you set yourself up for success. The right tools and acquiring the necessary knowledge will help you to feel more confident about the task at hand.
Remember that no one is perfect, and we are all learning as we go. Are you (like most new parents) wondering how to safely bathe my baby at home? Don't worry, you will be proud of yourself once the baby's first bath is complete!
Read on to find out what you will need, and the best way to go about it.
Baby's First Real Bath
Until your baby has lost their umbilical cord (within 1-2 weeks), give them sponge baths only. Unless they have a big diaper mess, they are not likely to get very dirty or smelly anyway.
A sponge bath means getting a small container of warm water and a soft cloth and laying your baby on a towel while you use the cloth to wipe their body down instead of putting them in their baby bathtub.
Bathing a child too soon can actually cause health issues such as a drop in their blood sugar, this will make them tired, and not want to eat. A bath too soon could also give them a chill and possibly hypothermia. For the first 24 hours after birth, you should keep your baby swaddled and warm, remember, they have been incubated in 36-38 degree heat for the past 9 months.
How to give a bath to a newborn baby is often a major concern of new parents. They know that it needs to be done, but the details of bathing a baby are still unknown to them. Listen to your baby, they will let you know if they are uncomfortable or unhappy by fussing or crying.
The full-size bathtub in your bathroom is not the best place for a newborn's bath. A baby bath tub is a small plastic container that has an angle that allows the baby to lay on an incline instead of flat.
Some parents will use the kitchen sink because it is a small space, and raised making it easier to have control over the situation as you are standing and not kneeling and bending over. If thinking of using the sink or anywhere else, be mindful of a newborn's delicate and developing immune system. Where you bath them needs to be hygienic and free to harsh chemicals.
How Often Should I Give My Baby a Bath?
How often should I bathe a newborn to make sure that they are clean, but not to dry their skin out? A newborn does not need to be given a bath every day. Typically 2-3 times per week is enough.
When to Give Baby a Bath
Is there a right and a wrong time of day to bathe your baby? No, that is up to you, your baby, and your schedule. Of course, there are times when your baby might make a mess and need an impromptu bath. Sometime you may end up giving your baby more than one or 2 baths in a single day if they have explosive poos.
Bedtime is a great time for a bath because the warm water is soothing to them and could help them sleep. An all-natural wash like Gaia Sleep Time Bath Wash which has calming lavender can boost the sleepytime effect.
Proper Water Temperatures
The proper water temperature to bathe your baby is an important factor. Since your baby will not be able to tell you if the water is too hot or too cold for them checking the temperature can be done with a thermometer.
It should be between 37 & 38 degrees Celcius (100 degrees F.)
Don't have a thermometer? Don't worry! You can test the water with your elbow- it should feel warm to the touch.
How to Safely Bathe My Baby at Home
Have your partner or a friend help you if you feel like having someone else there would make you feel better. An extra set of helping hands is a great idea, but not entirely necessary.
Gather everything that you need for bathtime before putting your baby in the water. You will need a soft washcloth and towel and mild baby wash. You may want to get a fresh diaper handy, as well.
Fill their baby tub with a few inches of the proper temperature water, double-checking the temperature. Undress baby and take off their diaper. Gently place your baby in the bath.
You can support them with one hand as you wash and rinse with the other hand. If there is a safety strap attached to their tub you can use that to help keep them secure.
You do not need to use a large amount of soap. A few drops on their soft washcloth should be enough. Wash their body, and rinse the soap off.
*Never leave your baby unattended in the bath, even if there face is above the water
Some parent may chose shower with their newborn. Another option is to bath with your newborn and use your legs as a tool to help you keep them on their backs and heads above water.
The Best Baby Bath Products and Skin Care
A general rule is to avoid using products that are made for adults for newborn babies. Products that are designed for babies are unscented or lightly scented and made for new skin.
It's especially important not to use bath products which can get in your baby's eyes or mouth.
Taking Baby Out of the Bath
Removing your baby from their bath should be done in a way that ensures their neck and body are completely supported. Be aware that newborns skin when wet is silky smooth and slippery.
One way is by holding one hand under their head and neck to support it and placing the other hand under their bottom, legs, and lower back. This method should ensure that their body is supported and avoid the baby from slipping.
The other way is to gently scoop them by cradling your hands under their arms, supporting their head and upper body with your hands, and placing your thumbs on their chest.
A soft warm towel can be laid across your shoulder and the front of your body, and then lay baby against it, wrapping them up. Or place a towel on the ground and gently placed your baby on the towel then wrap them up quickly so they don't get a chill.
After the Bath
Once your baby is out of the bath it is a great time to apply a gentle lotion or baby massage oil to their skin. A baby's skin is soft but needs all the hydration it can get. Newborns shed skin in the first few months and to help prevent a their new skin from drying and becoming itchy. You can apply it as you would to your own skin, or go a step further and give them a relaxing massage while you do it.
A Clean Little Bundle of Joy
Don't worry, you are going to do great!
There is a lot to learn and think about when you become a new parent. It won't take long for you and your baby to learn what is the best routine for you both. Some babies love their bath times and can associate them with sleep time others hate having a bath.
For more interesting reads, check out our other articles on pregnancy and parenthood.