Most newborns object to baths, but it won’t be long before they become one of her favorite rituals. She’ll probably perk up at the sound of water running and you’ll have a hard time coaxing her out of the tub. In the meantime, here’s your reward: there’s nothing more delicious than the smell (and sight) of a freshly bathed baby wrapped in a towel.
Here are some suggestions on how to give a baby bath, starting with a newborn.
How to bathe a newborn with a sponge
The baby’s umbilical cord will fall off about two weeks after delivery. Until then, parents must bathe their newborn with a sponge. Sponge scrubbing is also necessary if his circumcision has not yet healed. The American Academy of Pediatrics WHO recommends that newborns be bathed three times a week.
Put everything you need within arm’s reachーsoap, towels, cotton balls, washcloths, diapers, change of clothesーso you can keep all your hands on your baby. Start by washing your face with a wet cotton ball or washcloth. Concentrate on the eyelids, working from the inside to the outside corners, using a separate cotton ball for each eye. Clean the outside of the baby’s ears with a damp cotton swab (avoid inserting the swab into the ear as it may puncture the eardrum).
Wash your baby’s body with a damp washcloth and a few drops of mild soap. If your baby’s hair looks dirty, wet it with a damp towel and mild soap.
When you’re done giving him a bath, quickly wrap him in a towel so he doesn’t lose too much body heat. Make sure to dry him before you change his diaper and get him dressed.
How to give your baby a bath in the baby bath
Once the baby’s umbilical cord is broken, he can be bathed in a mini bathtub. Choose a baby bathtub that has a contoured design or an internal sling to keep your baby from sliding around. Never use a bathtub seatーーwhen the suction cups fail, the seat can tip over and trap your child underwater.
Gather your supplies and put a few inches of warm water in the tub. It should be slightly cooler than your ideal temperature because baby’s skin is more sensitive (aim for a temperature around 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Consider setting your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit so that if your baby turns on the hot water faucet, she won’t get scalded.
Gently lower your baby into the tub while you support his head and neck with your arms. Wash his face as you would a sponge, then bathe him with a mild soap and washcloth. Don’t turn your back on your baby, even for just a secondーーbabies can drown in water that is a few inches deep.
Doing specific rituals in the bath can help your child’s skin stay healthy. Scott Grant, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, of Children’s Hospital at Detroit Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan, recommends focusing on cleaning the “rolls” that often appear on babies’ necks, arms and legs. Dirt and dead skin cells tend to collect in these areas, which can irritate the skin and lead to infections, such as cellulitis, or worsening conditions, such as eczema.
After the penis has healed from circumcision, you can wash it just like any other part of his body. Wipe the girl’s genitals from front to back. Do not use soap on her groin area; it may cause irritation.
Once or twice a week, use baby soap or a drop of mild, tear-free shampoo while he’s in the bath. If he gets scabs (scaly patches on his scalp), use a soft-bristled baby brush to loosen the scales while you wash his hair.
Once she’s clean, pat your baby dry. “Prolonged exposure to air after bathing can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin,” explains Dr. Grant. Then apply a thick, dyed and scented hypoallergenic lotion to lock in your baby’s much-needed moisture. a 2014 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that daily use of moisturizing lotion for 32 weeks after birth reduced the risk of eczema in infants.