Bathing Your Baby
Never leave a baby alone in a bath tub or any water.
Can my baby have a bath straight after he's born?
The nurse/midwife usually gives your healthy baby his/her first bath and they show you how to do it at the same time.
When should I start giving my baby regular baths?
It's up to you. As long as your baby is healthy, you may enjoy giving your baby a bath from day one or you may sponge him/her off using a warm wet cloth.
Newborns can lose body heat very quickly. So your baby's first bath should be quick but thorough, and last no longer than five minutes to 10 minutes. Make sure the room is warm, and close any doors and windows to stop draughts. Have towels ready to wrap your baby up and cuddle him afterwards.
It's fine to give your baby a bath before his umbilical cord stump has fallen off and healed. Bathing your baby won't make an infection in the stump more likely, and it won’t slow down the healing process. Just be sure that you allow it to dry off properly afterwards.For the first few weeks, you can bathe your baby using just water, or a little mild liquid baby cleanser.
If your baby's skin is dry, you can add some baby bath emollient to the water. Bear in mind that the emollient will make your baby slippery to handle.
How often will my baby need a bath?
It’s up to you how often you give your baby a bath. Newborns don't need a bath every day, as they don’t get very dirty. Bathing him two or three times a week is fine. Frequent baths may lead to dry skin, depending on what you use in the bath.
The Umbilical Cord
Some doctors suggest swabbing the area of the umbilical cord with rubbing alcohol until the cord stump dries up and falls off, usually in 10 days to 3 weeks, but others recommend leaving the area alone.
An infant's navel area should not be submerged in water until the cord stump falls off and the area is healed. Until it falls off, the cord stump will change colour from yellow to brown or black — this is normal.
Ask your doctor for his/her advice and consult your doctor if the navel area becomes reddened or if a foul odor or discharge develops.
You'll need the following items before bathing your baby:
a soft, clean washcloth
mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
a soft brush to stimulate the baby's scalp
towels or blankets
an infant tub with 2 to 3 inches of warm — not hot! — water (to test the water temperature, feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist). An infant tub is a plastic tub that can fit in the bathtub; it's a better size for babies and makes bathing easier to manage.
a clean diaper/pamper
For a sponge bath, pick a warm room and a flat surface, such as a changing table, floor, or counter. Undress your baby. Wipe your infant's eyes with a washcloth dampened with water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth to wash the other eye. Clean your baby's nose and ears with the washcloth. Then wet the cloth again and, using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.
Next, using baby shampoo, create a lather and gently wash your baby's head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the genital area. Once you have washed those areas, make sure they are dry and then diaper and dress your baby.
When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.
Undress your baby and then place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room, to prevent chills. Make sure the water in the tub is no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and that the water is no longer running in the tub.
As you lower your baby into the bath, hold her firmly under her bottom with one hand. Place your other arm under the back of her neck and her shoulders. Once your baby is in the bath and settled, you can use the hand that was supporting her bottom to wash and swish the water around. Keep a firm hold on your baby with your other hand and support her head above the water.
Use a washcloth to wash his or her face and hair. Gently massage your baby's scalp with the pads of your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush, including the area over the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of the head. When you rinse the soap or shampoo from your baby's head, cup your hand across the forehead so the suds run toward the sides and soap doesn't get into the eyes. Gently wash the rest of your baby's body with water and a small amount of soap.
Throughout the bath, regularly pour water gently over your baby's body so he or she doesn't get cold. After the bath, wrap your baby in a towel immediately, making sure to cover his or her head. Baby towels with hoods are great for keeping a freshly washed baby warm.
While bathing your infant, never leave the baby alone. If you need to leave the bathroom, wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you.