How to bathe a newborn safely?
One of these firsts, which won’t happen that long after you have given birth, is bathing your baby. You may find that the experience causes them to squirm and even cry, especially the first time. This, coupled with the slipperiness, can cause a stressful situation for both of you.
However, it is an experience that they will quickly learn to love, making it a relaxing and enjoyable part of the bedtime routine and the perfect opportunity to bond. So, how do you make sure you are ready for their first bath and ensure you know what you need to do to get to that enjoyable stage?
You won’t know what it is truly like until your baby is in your arms and you are actually giving them their first wash. But, you can do your research and make sure you have the essentials, so you are as prepared as possible.
This guide will talk you through bathing a newborn safely so you know exactly what you should be doing and ensure their love of bath time begins sooner rather than later.
When can you bathe a newborn?
You'll have lots of questions but, initially, you are probably wondering when should you first bathe a newborn? Unless you would like to, you don't need to give your baby a bath in the first few days. You may like to start with a top and tail wash which means ensuring you thoroughly clean around the nappy area and their face. This can be done with warm water and a soft flannel or cotton wool.
How often should you bathe a baby?
Although it's important to keep the nappy area clean in between, you only need to bathe newborns two or three times a week. Any more than this and you could actually start to dry out your baby’s skin. Once they get a little older you can give them a bath every day. Not only will this ensure they are fresh and clean, it’ll become a part of the day you both look forward to.
When is the best time to bathe newborn?
It's best to make their bath part of the bedtime routine. This is the ideal way to relax your baby and get them ready for a peaceful nights sleep. However, you should avoid bathing your baby just after a feed or when they are hungry.
How do you bathe a newborn?
Firstly, you must be gentle and introduce them slowly - this will be a strange experience for them and the more careful you are, the quicker they will take to it.
If you are starting with 'top and tail' this can be done on a towel next to a bowl or sink filled with warm water. You don't need to worry too much about the umbilical cord - this can take up to three weeks to fall off but it is best to keep it dry and make sure you pat it dry if it does get wet.
When you are ready, after a week or so, move to a bath seat and a baby bathtub - you don't need to fill this to the top, around 5cm is enough.
Make sure the room is warm and any doors or windows are closed to avoid draughts as babies can lose body heat far quicker than adults. For the same reason, ensure that you have towels ready to wrap the baby up as soon as you take them out of the water.
Start by washing their eyes before you put them in the bath. You can use cotton pads – use a different one for each eye and wash from beside their nose outwards. In the same way, you can wash around their ears but never in them. You should also clean around the nappy area with wipes before you put them in the water, wiping from front to back.
You must hold the baby's head as you place them in the water and continue to support this as you are washing him or her. Do not use cleaning products as their skin is very sensitive or, if you do, ensure that they are mild and non-perfumed. During the first few months, however, it is best just to use water. You can cup your hand and scoop the water over their body, making sure their head is well above the surface. When you do this, make sure you pay attention to the creases and folds of skin.
If your baby has a significant amount of hair you can use a gentle baby shampoo but do this last so they aren't sitting in this afterwards.
The bath should be quick but thorough - around 5 to 10 minutes should suffice. When you take them out, pat them dry with the towel before wrapping them up in it.
What should your baby’s bath temperature be?
A baby’s skin is far more sensitive than an adult’s. If the water temperature feels ok to you, it may still be too hot for your little one. Before you put them in make sure you test it with the back of your wrist or elbow. This is the most sensitive part of our body and you'll be able to tell whether it is the right temperature or not this way. The rule here is that your baby’s bath temperature should be ‘warm but not hot’. If you have a thermometer the water should be 37 to 38°C.
Safety tips for bathing your newborn
To ensure you avoid this, make sure you have everything you need ready before you start the bath. If you realise you have forgotten anything, ask a member of your family to get it for you. If there is no one to ask, take the baby out of the bath, wrap him or her in a towel and take them with you.
If you can, it is best to bathe your newborn with your partner - at least to start with. You'll feel a lot more confident if there is an extra pair of hands around to help.
Now you know how to bathe your newborn, you can look forward to the experience rather than worrying about it. Remember, every baby is different and once you start bath time you'll be able to work out what works best for you.
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