Many new parents get tensed up at this thought of giving a bath to a new born. However if you learn the basic things to take care about, you would enjoy the whole act in no time! Let us take you through the basics involved.
A newborn baby should be given a sponge bath until:
- the umbilical cord drops off and the navel area is completely healed (Normally 1–4 weeks time)
- the circumcision heals, if the baby is circumcised at birth (Normally 1–2 weeks time)
Until the baby becomes a year old, giving a bath two or three times a week is sufficient. More frequent bathing is not necessary as it may make the skin go dry.
Following items should be kept ready before bathing a baby:
- a fresh diaper
- towels or baby blankets
- a soft and clean washcloth — preferably made of cotton
- a soft brush to scrub the baby’s scalp
- mild, un-scented baby soap and a good quality shampoo
- clean clothes to put on after bathing
Sponge baths. First select a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table or floor) in a warm room. Fill a sink, if nearby, or bowl with lukewarm (please check that it is NOT hot!) water. Undress the baby and wrap it in a soft towel. Wipe your infant’s eyes with a washcloth (or a clean cotton ball) dampened with clean water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth or another cotton ball to wash the other eye. Clean your baby’s nose and ears with the damp washcloth. Then wet the cloth again and, using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.
Next, use the shampoo to create a lather and gently wash your baby’s head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the genital area. Once you have washed those areas, make sure they are dry and then diaper and dress your baby.
Tub baths. When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.
As the newborn begins to grow into a toddler, you can add the following to the items mentioned before:
- An infant tub with 2 to 3 inches of lukewarm (NOT HOT!) water (to test the water temperature, feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist). An infant tub is a plastic tub that can fit in the standard bathtub (if your home has one); it’s a better size for babies and makes bathing easier to manage. If a bathtub is not present then put the plastic infant tub on a clean floor to give bath to your baby.
Undress your baby and then place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room, to prevent chills. Make sure the water in the tub is no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and that the water is no longer running in the tub. Use one of your hands to support the head and the other hand to guide the baby in feet-first. Speaking gently to the baby, slowly lower it up to the chest into the tub.
Use a washcloth to wash his or her face and hair. Gently massage your baby’s scalp with the pads of your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush, including the area over the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of the head. When you rinse the soap or shampoo from your baby’s head, cup your hand across the forehead so the suds run toward the sides and soap doesn’t get into the eyes. Gently wash the rest of your baby’s body with water and a small amount of soap.
Throughout the bath, regularly pour water gently over your baby’s body so he or she doesn’t get cold. After the bath, wrap your baby in a towel immediately, making sure to cover its head. Baby towels with attached hoods are best for keeping a freshly washed baby warm.
While bathing your infant, never leave the baby alone. If you need to leave the bathroom, wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you.
One important thing for you as a mother is to enjoy the bathing process of your baby. Best would be if the father gives company too in this act. Keep talking soothingly to your baby during this time, which would increase your baby’s confidence on the bathing process.
Hope this information was of help to you as new parents.