Newborn Questions: How to give my baby his or her first bath?

Bathing baby D is a special moment for me and him. Even to this day, the minute he sees the towel draped over my shoulder and when he is stripped to butt naked, he knows its bath time and there could be no better feeling for him in the world. The squeals of excitement and wriggling puts a smile on my face. This is one thing I love doing with him and possibly my favorite time of the day. Its one thing I won’t let my babysitter or nanny even do. Thats my special time with baby D…

This wasn’t the case the first time I gave his bath to him 10 months back. I remember I was very nervous. My mom on one side and my husband on the other, I had been through the classes and read all the books, but this was going to be tough. Here are my steps and tips of what to do for the first bath. If you follow this, your first experience will be a memorable one.

Prep:

  1. Prepare the baby’s room where you will dress and undress him/her. Place one towel on the changing table/bed/whatever surface you want. Next to it place a clean diaper, wipes, hair brush (very SOFT one), some lotion, tissue box, swaddle blanket, and the clothes you will dress baby in.
  2. Place a room heater in the room or turn on the  heat so the room is nice and cozy. Babies are very sensitive to temperature, and after the bath they will want to feel warm and secure.
  3. Gather all your bath supplies:
    Warm water, tub where you will wash baby, towel to line the tub or large container (we had a tub at home but first two three baths he was so small we used a large rectangular tupperware container lined with towel), cup to pour water with, baby wash.

Steps:

  1. Fill the baby bath with 2 inches of water. Even that can be dangerous so be careful. Make sure the temperature is between 85-90 degrees fahrenheit. You can use your elbow to check the temperature as it will tell you whats good.
  2. Undress baby and wrap in towel. Place baby gently in wash. He/she may cry as it is a very different environment. Don’t worry. Baby D cried his whole first bath, but LOVED it ever since.
  3. Pour cupfuls of water on baby to regulate temperature.
  4. For the first few months I never directly added soap to body. I would pour some in a cup, mix with water and then pour. Tilt baby’s head back when putting water on the head. I also used my hand and fresh water to wash his face. In the beginning I used a gentle soft washcloth and washed starting with the eyes, nose, mouth. Be sure to get in all the creases.
  5. When done, CAREFULLY lift baby out of the tub with one hand supporting neck and head, and the other supporting the bottom. Wet babies are slippery!…so hold on to one thigh if you can. Best if you have someone to hep you here by receiving baby in a dry towel. When I started giving baths alone, I would place the towel on my shoulder (I still do this) with a corner towards the top, picked up baby and put him on my shoulder so his head was there, and wrapped the sides around his back
  6. Bring baby to the other towel and set up you prepared in the warm room
  7. Pat dry… I loved to also use tissues at this time to get in all the folds as they absorb water so well and are so soft and gentle.
  8. You can put some gentle lotion on at this time. If the skin peels, allow it to as its probably dead skin that needs to come off.

Pointers:

– first bath should be quick and through. Make sure its no longer than 5-7 minutes.
– don’t be nervous about the umbilical cord. Its fine and ok to give a bath before its fallen off. If it gets wet its not more likely to cause an infection, it will just take longer for it to heal and fall off. So don’t stress too much. Just let it dry off.
– There is no need to bath a newborn daily as it can lead to dryness. You can do it 2/3 times a week. Just wash the bottom a little more with a wet washcloth or sponge bath to avoid rash. Wipes aren’t always the best thing.
– Never leave your baby alone! This is like a forever rule. Plus in the start, you will always want a set of helper hands since the baby is so floppy.
– Never leave the baby in a running water tub – temperatures can change, or it can get too deep

Cradle Cap: Baby D had a little cradle cap throughout his newborn stage. It wasn’t horrible but it was definitely there. I used to use a cradle cap shampoo by Mustela but that didn’t do much. What did work for me was Johnsons baby oil after two months, which I applied to his head, let it sit for 10 mins and then combed it out. The dead skin cells from the cradle cap would come off like magic. Do it a few times and cradle cap is history.

The tub I used:

After my mom left and my husband went back to work, I was extremely nervous to do my first bath. Add in hormones and emotional mess post baby, you get pretty anxious. My bathtub in fact was a huge saviour in making my experience an amazing one.
We have the “4moms” Infant tub, which has a thermometer built in, beeps when too hot or too cold, color codes hot and cold and just right temperature, and allows the constant stream of fresh water. I used this from baby d’s 3rd bath of him being around 3 weeks old until he was 7 months. Post that, I now bathe him in the sink.
You can get this on Amazon, Buy buy baby, Target, Giggle, or Babies R Us (i’m sure you can get it from many other places as well)

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