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Bathtime 101: The Basics of Bathing Your Newborn

March 12, 2013
Big Brother Owen helping bathe his new brother Chase.

Big Brother Owen helping bathe his new brother Chase.

Keeping your newborn baby clean is all about moderation. Bathing your baby regularly, but not excessively, and keeping water, bath products, and your own touch as gentle as possible are all key. Read on for the basic information you need to keep your baby clean and his skin healthy.

Your newborn, initially, will not need a bath everyday. Frequent bathing is not necessary, as your baby won’t be sweating, getting muddy, or smearing food on his face, as an older baby or a toddler would! Bathing every three days should be sufficient, especially if you’re quick to clean his diaper area and diligent about wiping spit-up and milk throughout the day. And until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, a sponge bath is easiest. You can place your baby on a soft towel, and, while always keeping one hand on your baby, gently wipe his face with a moderately warm, wet washcloth, and then move on to his body. Pay special attention to creases and skin folds, under the arms, and behind the ears. Use a clean, wet cloth for his diaper area, focusing on that area last.

Once your baby is ready for a tub, consider the different options available. Many infant tubs are in the form of plastic basins that are placed in the bathtub and allow your baby to lay down while you bathe him. However, many parents are now opting for infant tubs that look a bit like buckets and allow your baby to remain upright while being bathed. These tubs can be soothing for babies who do not like baths, or are more comfortable being held vertically.

Keep safety in mind every time you bathe your baby. Never leave her alone in the tub, and keep a hand on her at all times. Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot, and test it throughout the bath to make sure your faucet’s temperature hasn’t risen or fallen dramatically during the course of your baby’s bath. You only need a couple of inches of water in the bath, and you can begin by rinsing her body with a cup of warm water until she is ready to be wiped gently with a warm, wet cloth and a small amount of gentle soap formulated especially for babies. You can rinse the soap off by pouring more water over her. If her hair seems especially dirty, or if your baby has trouble with cradle cap, you may use a gentle baby shampoo, being careful not to get any of the suds on her face.

After your baby’s bath, be sure to dry her off completely with a towel, as wet skin will make her chilly very quickly. Once she is dry, choose soft, warm clothing. Taking measures to be as gentle as possible and to make bath time soothing and comfortable will teach your baby that bath time can be a positive, fun ritual, and will make daily baths much easier as she grows into a toddler!

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