When leaving the hospital with a newborn, parents are sent home with an endless list of instructions on everything from the proper position for sleeping to bathing. In regards to bathing a newborn, parents are instructed to use common sense to decide if their newborn is in need of a bath. Parents are encouraged to do what is best for their baby, keeping hygiene and bonding in mind.
Parents usually find that newborns feel comfortable in the water and enjoy taking a bath. If your baby isn’t a fan, you can get him or her in and out pretty quickly. However, if your baby seems to like it, you can let them stay in the water for around 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the water cools down rapidly, making your baby uncomfortable and at risk of getting too cold.
Whether you are a first time parent or it’s simply been awhile since you last gave a newborn a bath, the following tips are designed to help you give your newborn a bath.
Babies can easily get chilled
Before bathing your baby, be sure the room is warm and free of drafts. After you have finished giving your baby a bath, wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat him or her dry. Get him or her dressed as quickly as possible.
Never leave your newborn alone in the water
A child can drown in less than 1 inch of water and in less than 60 seconds. Gather everything you need to bathe your newborn and make certain it is within reach before putting him or her in the water.
Stay away with scented products
Scented products frequently contain ingredients which can irritate your baby or cause an allergy. It is advisable to avoid them.
Be mindful of the stump
Before bathing your baby, use a cotton bowl with rubbing alcohol to clean the umbilical stump. Until your baby’s umbilical stump has fell off the area has healed, you should give sponge baths using a damp, warm cloth. After the umbilical stump has fallen off and the area has healed, you can begin giving your newborn a tub bath. Instead of a standard tub, it is recommended that you use a small baby bath tub or the kitchen sink.
Babies prefer a water temperature around 100⁰F (38⁰C)
You can use a bath thermometer or dip your hand in to ensure the water is a comfortable temperature prior to putting your baby in the bath. Never put your baby in until you have finished running the water. It can be somewhat scary to bathe your wet and wiggly newborn. Just stay calm, keep a good grip on him or her, and with practice, you’ll become an old pro.
Always start washing your baby from the top
Or the cleanest area and work your way down to the dirtier areas. Prior to getting started, use vegetable oil to wipe away any stool or visible dirt.
No soap till they turn 1
With the exception of a couple of drops of a mild baby wash or shampoo in your newborn’s hair, you should refrain from using soap until your baby reaches his or her first birthday.
Dry them thoroughly
To prevent your newborn from developing a moisture rash, be certain to get all body folds completely dry. Don’t forget the folds in the neck, arms, and legs. You can also apply a thin layer of baby powder. However, never let it get near your baby’s face. There is the potential for it to get into the respiratory system and cause pneumonia. Get all the clothes necessary before starting bathing the baby and be sure your changing table is clean and dry too.
If your baby has especially dry or cracked skin, you can apply an ointment or mild lotion. If your baby gets diaper rash, utilize a cream that contains zinc oxide. Otherwise, there is no need to apply anything to your baby’s skin.
Baths also offer a great opportunity for bonding, especially for fathers of newborns who are being breastfed. The intimacy the situation creates is similar to that created during breastfeeding. When possible, let dad take on the bath responsibilities.
Bathing your newborn can be a great experience, both for you and your baby. However, you can never be too cautious. Keep the tips above in mind and have fun. Your baby will only be this little for a short period of time, so take the time to enjoy it.