It’s a daunting task that most new parents face: Giving their brand new baby a bath. Where does the baby sit? How warm should the water be? WHAT HAPPENS IF WATER GETS IN THE BABY’S FACE?!
It’s also a precious memory that many families wish to document.
Rather than be apprehensive, this list of tips will help new families navigate this special moment with confidence and knowledge.
Gather everything before retrieving baby. The best time? When baby has finished his/her last feeding before bed and is happy. Gather all your materials: A baby tub of some sort, soap, washcloths (I recommend having at least three on hand), cotton balls, two towels, and your phone (for pictures).
Prepare the space. Lay one towel on a flat surface near the tub; you will lay baby here after the bath is over. Placing a wash cloth in the tub (especially those that have an incline) can help keep your baby from sliding down. If you’re using a small tub, it might be better to do it on the kitchen counter next to the sink so you can comfortably stand.
Fill the tub with enough water to partially submerge baby. He doesn’t need a luxurious soak like you might like; the water level is optimally enough to come up about three inches. This keeps your baby from getting chilly but also avoids the dreaded ‘water in face’ scenario.
Check the temperature. Use the inside of your wrist or back of your neck; these areas are more sensitive. The water should feel almost as though it’s not there; this means it is close to your own temperature and safe for your baby.
Time for Baby! Always keep one hand on your baby while bathing to ensure safety (it’s also suggested to place a wash cloth over your baby’s penis or vulva to avoid getting peed on). Wash baby from top to bottom:
Use a moist cotton ball for each eye, wiping from inside corner out.
Use a damp wash cloth with a small amount of baby soap to wash the scalp. Use a second damp washcloth to rinse.
Wash baby’s arms and armpits with the soapy cloth. Rinse with the clean cloth.
Wash baby’s legs and feet and rinse.
Support your baby with one hand to lean him/her forward. Wash your baby’s back and butt and rinse.
Be sure to wash and rinse any folds, creases, and especially the neck.
The belly button doesn’t require special washing or attention, unless it is dirty.
Wash baby’s genitals last, then rinse.
Remove your baby to dry. Lay your baby on the spread out towel, then wrap it around him/her. Use your second towel to carefully dry the scalp, then slowly unwrap your baby and dry in the same order that you washed.
Dress your baby and give yourself a pat on the back. You are now a baby bathing master!
If you’re still feeling stressed about the first bath after the umbilical cord falls off, give us a call! Our postpartum and infant care doulas are specially trained in bathing and can schedule a shift to help show you their tips and tricks.