The first bath is an exciting moment and much awaited by parents.
While on one hand, you cannot wait to see that little creature in the tub and find out how your baby will react to water, on the other hand, you are not sure what to do or even how to hold him.
You have a lot of questions, from the temperature of the water to the right time to bath, from how often to bath the baby to what products to use.
But don't worry, with our advice and a few days of practice you will become a pro and will enjoy these magical moments with your little one for the years to come.
So, let's find out how to bath a baby step by step.
When to give the first bath to your new-born baby?
Many new parents ask how to bath a new born baby with umbilical cord.
The W.H.O. recommends delaying the first bath until at least 24 hours after birth. Other doctors suggest waiting up to 48 hours or more.
Most agree that it is best to wait for the abutment of the umbilical cord to detach before proceeding with a dip bath.
This is because the care of the stump can be complex and, for it to detach properly, the cord must be dry.
The detachment generally occurs between 8 and 10 days after birth, so you won't have to wait too long for your baby's first bath.
Until the umbilical cord falls off, it is best to give your baby sponge baths. This will help keep their little hands, feet, faces, and bodies clean, while keeping their umbilical cord stump clean and dry! A sponge bath is truly only needed 1-2 times per week, as too frequent bathing can cause newborn skin to become dry or irritated.
For more information, check out our blog post on How to bath your baby with umbilical cord on?
When is the best time of the day to bathe a baby?
Before anything else, don’t let bathe time get hectic.
Establish a routine based on daily family activities.
Often parents decide to turn the bath into an end-of-day ritual that also helps the new-born sleep.
Keep in mind that, once out of the tub, the little one may want to eat because the "ritual" will tire the baby a lot.
We recommend paying attention to the baby’s mood after bath time and use it to your advantage. If, for example, the baby is energetic and ready to play, bathe during the day. If he/she seems more mellow, make it a pre-bedtime activity.
Whether you're bathing your baby every night or quick washcloth clean-ups, the routine will help set your baby's body clock (e.g. “I’m taking a bath = time for bed"). Reinforce the sleepy-time message by dimming the lights and keeping the noise and activity down after the bath is over.
If your baby is hungry or has an upset tummy, you should, however, postpone the bath
Keep in mind that while bedtime baths are relaxing, it's fine if another time of day works better for you and your baby.
How often to bathe a new-born
The frequency of the bath is at the discretion of parents. Of course, the baby does not need to be washed every day; because doesn’t move and if is dressed properly for the day temperature,
the baby doesn't sweat much.
His day passes between breast and cradle and the diaper is often changed so two to three baths a week should be enough.
However, if you think that bath time should be part of your daily evening routine, remember to use moisturizing products because a sensitive baby skin soaked frequently can dry out.
The water temperature for the first bath
The ideal water temperature ranges from 37 to 38 degrees Celsius or 100 F. If you want to be sure, measure the temperature with a thermometer.
After several days you will become an expert in water temperature assessment and will use the old grandmother method, namely the elbow.
The room temperature
Any mother with a baby is anxious to create the best conditions for her child, in which he/she feels most comfortable.
It is also important to pay attention to the temperature inside of the room to keep the baby from chilling. Ideally, there should not be an extreme contrast when removing the baby from the water. It is recommended to keep the room temperature at around 20 - 25 degrees Celsius or between 70 – 77 F. During winter, use an electric warmer if necessary.
How to bathe a new-born on your own?
It is critical to be well organized before the bath: prepare in advance everything you need, from products for cleansing to change diapers. The list of essentials includes baby soap and shampoo, one or two cotton washcloths, a blanket, a towel or two, a plastic basin filled with warm water, a clean diaper, diaper lotion for after the bath and clean cloths.
Oh, I almost forgot ... Ask your partner to have the camera ready especially if it's baby’s first bath.
Only after the first bath, you will realize how complex it is to manage everything at the same time, especially if you are alone.
⚠️ It is particularly important to remember the child cannot be left alone, not even for a moment.
The first step is to heat the room and prepare the tub, then undress the baby. Whether you're using an infant tub or a sink, fill it first with just enough water to cover the bottom of his body; recommended 5 to 7 cm or 2.6 inch. Never put a baby in while the water is still running.
If just pooped, wipe him off with a washcloth before bathing.
Then, gently immerse the baby in the water feet first, holding him with one hand placed under his head and the other arm to support his neck and back.
⚠️ Most important is to prevent the baby from slipping, swallowing water or getting injured.
When bathing the baby, use a mild soap on his hands and diaper area; you could just use water on the rest of his body unless the baby is dirty.
Dip a corner of a washcloth (or use a cotton ball) in the warm water, and carefully wipe one eye from the inner corner outward. Use a different corner of the cloth (or a new cotton ball), to clean the other eye. Wet the washcloth entirely and wash your little one's face, especially around his mouth and under his chin where milk and drool can pool, and inside and behind his ears.
⚠️ Do not use a cotton swab to clean inside your baby's ears.
If necessary, you can use a little soap on your baby's face.
Make sure that the baby's eyes and mouth do not come in contact with the soapy water, and try not to scare him/her.
Dip the washcloth in warm water and wash your little one's neck and torso. Then clean between his fingers and under his arms and make sure to get into those little creases and skin folds.
Save baby’s dirtiest parts for last.
Use a soft, clean cloth, gentle soap, and warm water to clean your baby's genitals.
For girls, wash the area from front to back, and don't forget to gently wipe between skin folds.
Have a boy? If your baby boy has been circumcised, wipe his penis clean; do not pull back his foreskin if your baby boy is uncircumcised.
When clean the tiny bottom, be sure to use a little soap.
Then, move back up and wash the baby’s hair. This should be your last move because infants lose most of their heat through their heads.
You can play with the baby if the water is still warm as the water chills, the baby will quickly get cold.
The first few times it is always recommended to be two, so one will hold the baby and the other will pass the products, the towel and take thousands of photos.
Also remember that even though the baby was for 9 months in contact with the liquid, many children are frightened by the first bath.
Do not rush, make every movement calmly, making the most of these moments, instilling safety and serenity in your baby.
If your baby doesn’t like being bathed in the tub, go back to sponge baths and try again a few days later; he'll get the hang of it eventually.
What products are needed for the baby's bath
Babies' skin is particularly delicate, so it is essential to use specific cleansers.
Rice starch found in pharmacies, is recommended when babies have red skin due to sweat or diaper rashes. It has anti-inflammatory and absorbent properties, soothes itching, soothes and refreshes. You just put 3 or 4 tablespoons in bathwater.
When your baby is sitting up on their own, you can bathe them in the full bathtub. Bath toys or books can help babies enjoy bath time but be careful with bubbles because frequent bubble baths can dry out baby’s skin.
That beautiful and ultra-sensitive skin doesn't need lotions, oils, creams, baby powders; though a little baby-safe lotion is fine.
However, if your doctor recommends one, first warm it between your palms then massage lotion into baby skin.
Roll him in a towel, preferably with a hood, and dry him gently. Put on a fresh diaper and dress your new baby in some clean clothes.
And Voila! Not that difficult wasn’t it?
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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