Tips for bathing your newborn

Disclaimer: The content provided in this article does not constitute medical advice and does not come from a medical professional. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider or pediatrician for advice related to your child's health.

For those who are new to baby bathing, it's completely natural to feel a little unsure about handling this delicate and somewhat slippery task. So, we´ll dive right into the basics. This will hopefully help you feel more confident during bath time – especially for your baby´s first bath and those early months.

Safety First

Every baby is different, and it's essential to adapt your bathing routine to your baby's needs and comfort. If you have specific concerns or questions about bathing your newborn, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

When bathing a newborn, baby, or toddler, safety always comes first. No matter how old your little one is, never leave your child alone or unattended in a bathtub. Even if the bath water seems shallow, there's always a risk. It's crucial to follow established safety guidelines and stay with your baby throughout the bath.

Make sure you’ve prepared everything in advance so you can stay with and focused on your child, making it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for both of you.

When can I bath my newborn?

There is some debate as to when the best time to begin bathing your newborn is. Most of this discussion revolves around whether it's safe to bathe a baby while their umbilical cord is still attached. Many sources agree that it's generally safer to wait until the umbilical cord falls off, typically occurring within the first few weeks of life.

Until the umbilical cord falls off and the naval area has healed, it´s generally recommended to sponge bath your newborn by gently cleaning your baby´s face, neck, hands, and diaper area. This is known as a top and tail bath. Once the umbilical cord has come off, you can transition to a regular bath.

How often do I need to bath them?

There's no strict rule for how often to bathe your baby. In their first few weeks, babies don't move much or get very dirty, so they don't need daily baths. However, if it doesn't stress them out and they enjoy being bathed, there’s no reason you can’t bathe them once a day.

While advice varies, most point to around two times a week being ideal. On other days, you can give them a top and tail bath as mentioned above - cleaning their face, head, and neck with cotton wool pads, and their bottom with baby wipes after changing diapers.

Let’s get ready to bath!

Before you begin, you are going to want to prepare everything beforehand. Not only will this set you and your newborn up for bath time bliss, but it is also essential for safety so that you are not distracted.

  1. Gather your supplies
  • Baby Bath (Perhaps the Stokke® Flexibath)
  • Baby towels
  • Soft and absorbent towels
  • Washcloth or sponge
  • Fresh diapers
  • Clean clothes
  • Jug for pouring water (optional)

  1. Choose the right setting

Prepare a clean and safe area to set up your bath. It is also important to make sure the room is comfortably warm as newborns can get cold quickly.

  1. Prepare the bathing area

If using a baby bathtub, either set it up on a flat, stable surface or use the kitchen sink or a clean basin. Place a non-slip mat or a folded towel inside the baby bathtub to provide support and prevent slipping.

It is recommended to use a tool or ‘bathing aid” for newborns under 10 months old to help them have a safer position for bathing.

  1. Check the water temperature

Test the water with your elbow or the inside of your wrist to ensure it's comfortably warm (between 90 - 100°F or 32,2 - 37,8°C). Use a bath thermometer if you prefer.

It is generally recommended for the first month or so to not add anything to the water such as cleansers or soaps.

  1. Undress your baby

Undress your baby but keep them wrapped in a towel or blanket until it's time to put them in the tub. Remember, your little one needs to be kept warm!

Time to get bathing!

Now that everything's ready, let's ease your little one into the water.

When you're ready, gently and securely hold your baby. Support their head and neck with one hand while using the other to guide them into the water.

Start by gently wetting your baby's body with warm water. In the beginning, it is important to regularly pour or swish the water over them to get them used to being in the bath as well as keep them warm.

Using a soft cloth or sponge, gently wash your baby's face, neck, body, arms, and legs, being careful around the eyes. Rinse your baby by pouring warm water over them with a cup or your hand. Save washing their hair for last because it stays wet the longest and could make them cold. You should also limit your little one’s bath time to 10 minutes at most to prevent them from getting too cold.

Once bath time is over, lift your baby out of the water, wrap them snugly in a towel, and gently pat dry their body and hair, paying attention to drying between skin folds. Then, dress your little one in a fresh nappy and clean clothes.

After you've finished using your baby bath, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with water to clear away any soap or residue from bathing products. Then, gently wipe the tub with a soft cloth before folding it for storage. This helps keep it clean and prevents the growth of bacteria.

A time for bonding

It’s important to keep in mind that every baby is unique, so it might take a bit of time to find the right routine for you and your little one. Bath time isn't just another task to complete—it's a wonderful opportunity for bonding; a moment to look forward to at the end of the day, where you can sit down with your baby and spend quality time together.

To make bath time a little easier, head over to our baby essentials checklist where we outline everything you’ll need to prepare for the arrival of your little one.

Remember, this article was not written by medical professionals. Reach out to your healthcare provider for specific medical advice for your children.

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