10 Tips for Bathing a Newborn Baby

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Bathing a squirming, slippery newborn baby can be a challenge, but it can also be an enjoyable experience. Being prepared and knowing the proper techniques can mean the difference between making the bath a traumatic or relaxing experience for both you and the baby. Once you get the hang of it, bath time will be a snap, so here are 10 tips for bathing a newborn baby.

  1. Gather supplies – Make sure you have everything you need gathered up ahead of time. You’ll need soap, lotion, towels, wash cloth, clean diaper and clothes. Have everything within arms reach, but out of reach of the baby. You don’t want to leave a baby unattended for even a second while you’re fetching something you need.
  2. Sponge baths – Until the babies umbilical cord heals and falls off, newborns should be given sponge baths. Place the naked baby on a thick blanket or towel near a sink or basin of warm water. Use a soapy soft cloth to gently wash the baby starting from head to toe. Leave the diaper area for last so you don’t spread germs or bacteria to the hands or face.
  3. Sink or tub – You can use a tub specially made for bathing babies or just use the kitchen sink, but make sure the sink has been thoroughly cleaned first. There are even little mesh bathing hammocks you can use to hold the baby while they bathe.
  4. Temperature – Make sure the water is warm, about 90 degrees, but not hot and about 2 or 3 inches deep. The right temperature will help relax your newborn and make bathing a pleasant experience. If the water is too cold or too hot, the baby will react to the extreme temperature difference on their skin with howls of protest.
  5. Firm grip – It’s important to keep a firm grip because squirming, soapy babies are very slippery. Use both hands as you place the baby in the tub with one behind the head and neck and the other under the buttocks. Use one hand to grip the baby with the wrist behind the neck and head and grasp firmly underneath the armpit keeping the head above water. You want to keep one hand free to reach for the soap and other bathing supplies.
  6. Keep warm – Make sure the room temperature is warm and you are continually pouring cupfuls of water over exposed skin to keep the baby from getting chilled. Remember that a naked, wet, newborn baby is going to be cold unless you have the room temperature a little higher than normal. ,
  7. Use mild soap – Use a mild soap sparingly so you don’t dry out the baby’s sensitive skin. Be careful not to get soap in the eyes or mouth and make sure you get into creases where dead skin and dirt can collect.
  8. Timing – Take your time and don’t rush through the process even if the baby is fussing. Each newborn will react differently to bathing and so the length of bathing time depends on whether they like it or not. If the baby enjoys bath time, you can have a more leisurely pace. Pick a time of day that is the least stressful for you both, but if bathing relaxes your baby, just before bedtime could work best.
  9. Frequency – It’s not necessary to give a newborn baths every day, and doing so could dry out the skin. A couple times a week should be all that’s necessary to keep your baby clean since you always wash the areas that need attention like the face and diaper areas.
  10. Lotion – You can use a gentle baby lotion after the baby is toweled off, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Sloughing skin is normal for newborns and it isn’t because their skin is dry. Put a small amount of lotion in one hand and rub your hands together to warm the lotion before applying it to the baby’s skin.

Bathing your newborn is an intimate experience between parent and child and can help strengthen and bond their relationship. It’s understandable that a new mother or father would be nervous about giving their new baby his or her first bath. By being prepared and relaxed, you can help make bathing your baby a pleasant experience for you both. With a little practice, your newborn’s bath time can be a fun and loving time to spend together.

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