When To Bathe A Newborn For The First Time
According to the World Health Organization , caregivers should wait 24 hours after birth before bathing a baby. If this is not possible due to cultural or other reasons, they should wait at least 6 hours.
According to a 2019 study, in the past, hospitals best practice was to bathe a newborn around 2 hours after birth, but there is evidence that delaying a babys first wash can be beneficial. The study, involving around 1,000 newborns, found that delaying the first bath until 12 hours after birth improved the chances of successful breastfeeding.
In a smaller 2019 study , delaying the first bath until 48 hours after birth helped preserve the babys temperature, improved skin moisture, and might aid skin development.
Babies are often born with a white, creamy substance on their skin called vernix caseosa, which begins forming in the third trimester of pregnancy. This naturally occurring substance protects a baby in the womb and aids with delivery.
After that time, caregivers can give a baby a traditional bath. Learn about these methods below.
Sponge baths are a good way to clean babies without submerging them in water. It can often be quicker, and some people may find it easier.
People will need to gather the equipment they need beforehand. This will usually include:
When Is The Best Time Of Day To Give Your Baby A Bath
There is no one perfect time to give your baby a bathâitâs your decision. Choose a time when youâre least likely to be interrupted and when your baby is calm.
You may like to give your baby a bath in the daytime because sheâll naturally be more alert. Or, you may give your baby a bath at nighttime as part of her bedtime routine.
If you plan to give your baby a bath after feeding her, wait a while to ensure her tummy has had a chance to settle.
Where To Bath Your Baby
You can bath your baby in a baby bath until theyre too big to fit comfortably. Then it might be easier to bath your baby in the big bath.
You can help babies get used to the big bath by putting the small baby bath into the big bath a few times.
Once your baby is ready for the big bath, you might like to take a bath with your baby .
You can also shower with your baby. Keep your babys face away from the pouring water and make sure the water isnt too hot.
A big bath allows more room for games and toys. Bath toys can be very simple try a plastic cup or a washcloth to start with. Or you could take your baby for swims up and down the bath just support under your babys body and head .
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If Your Newborn Hates The Bath
Its actually very common for newborns to dislike bath time, especially at first. You may be surprised to learn this, and even think you are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with your baby if they cry or fuss during bathtime.
One reason some babies resist bathtime is that they dont like the sudden temperature changes that happen. You can mitigate this by gently transitioning your baby into the water. Wrap them in a towel at first and gradually immerse them in the water, keeping the towel on until they are all the way in.
You can also experiment with bath temperatures to see what your baby likes best. And always have a warm towel ready when they come out so that transition isnt too jarring.
Some newborn prefer bathtime if you are holding them completely. As such, many parents decide to bathe with their babies in their arms. This can be a wonderful bonding experience. However, you must consider safety here. Only bathe with your baby when you are fully alert. Make sure you have a towel ready, and possibly another grown-up to hand your baby to when you are done. Dont use soaps and other bath products geared toward adult skin.
Finally, keep bathtime fun for your baby! Newborns cant play with bath toys yet, but that doesnt mean they cant be entertained by them. Funny faces and games of peek-a-boo can be very helpful as well.
You can spot clean your baby in the meantime. And most babies will eventually enjoy bath timeall in good time.
How Often Do Babies Need Baths
In your babys first year, they may only need about three baths a week. This is usually frequent enough if you wash the diaper area thoroughly every time you change your baby.
Bathing once a day or every other day is also OK, but any more frequently than that could dry out your babys skin. Thats especially the case if you use soap or other baby wash.
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Baby Bath With Support
It is definitely easier to have someone around to pass your baby when you have got into the bath as well as receive them when you want to get out. However, if you are on your own and want to bathe with your baby then it is important you take the following steps:
- Put baby in a bouncy chair or car seat
- Get into the bath
- Lift baby from their seat
Sitting down ensures you have a safe stance before picking your baby up. Put baby back into their seat before you get out of the bath.
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Best Temperature For A Bath
You can experiment to see what temperature your baby likes their bath best. In general, lukewarm temperatures are ideal. You dont want the bath to be too cold, but you certainly dont want it too hot.
Some parents err on the side of heating the bath up too much, and risk scalding their babies. The AAP recommends that your babys bath be no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Its helpful to fill the baby tub or sink with a few inches of water before immersing your baby in it. Test the water first to see if it is an appropriate temperature for your baby.
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Skin Care For Your Newborn
A baby’s soft and delicate skin needs special care. Generally, it is best to use products made especially for babies, but your baby’s healthcare provider can advise you about other products. Products for adults may be too harsh for a baby and may contain irritants or allergens. Many parents like to use lotions. But unless the baby’s skin is dry, lotions really are not needed. Powders should be avoided, unless they are recommended by your baby’s healthcare provider. When using any powder, put the powder in your hand and then apply it to the baby’s skin. Shaking powder into the air releases dust and talc that can harm your baby’s lungs.
Many babies have rashes and bumps that are normal. Some rashes may be a sign of a problem or infection. Diaper rash can be irritating to the baby and needs to be treated. If you have concerns about a rash, or your baby is uncomfortable or has a fever, call your baby’s healthcare provider.
Laundry detergents may cause irritation to a baby’s delicate skin. If your baby seems sensitive to detergent, you can use a special detergent for babies with sensitive skin and give the laundry an extra rinse with plain water to remove any leftover detergent.
Setting Up A Baby Bath Safely: Tips
Drowning and scalds are the two main risks with bath time. With these simple tips, you can avoid these risks and keep bath time fun and safe for your baby:
- Take the phone off the hook or turn your phone off while bathing your baby. Youll be less likely to get distracted.
- Make sure you have everything you need nearby for example, towel, washcloth, bath toys, lotion or shampoo, clean clothes and clean nappy. This way you can keep your eyes and hands on your baby at all times.
- Make sure all bath lotions, shampoos and electrical appliances are out of babys reach.
- Take off your watch and jewellery. Wash your hands.
- Check the water temperature is 37-38°C before you put your baby in.
- Dry and dress your baby on a towel on the floor if possible. Its safer than on a change table. If youre using a change table, always keep one hand on your baby.
- Place your baby in a safe area like a cot after theyre dry and dressed.
- Empty the bath as soon as youre finished with it. Remove bath plugs from the bath when theyre not in use.
Children can drown in a few seconds in very shallow water. Never leave your baby alone in the bath, even if youre using a bath seat or cradle. Never leave older children or siblings to supervise. If youre disturbed by the phone or another task, take your baby out of the bath.
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Where To Bath Your Newborn
You can give your newborn a bath in a small plastic bath or even in the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink might be easiest in the first few weeks. A plastic baby bath is probably easier once your baby gets bigger.
You can bath your baby in any room thats warm, safe and clean it doesnt have to be a bathroom.
You can also shower with your baby. Keep your babys face away from the pouring water and make sure to use warm, not hot, water.
Best Kind Of Soap For Babies
Newborns dont need a ton of soap, and baby shampoo isnt strictly necessary.
Doctors recommend using the most mild soap you can find, as baby skin tends to be very sensitive. Unscented soaps are usually your best bet, and you can stay away from antibacterial soap or soap with many additives.
Read labels: If the soap has a long list of ingredients, its probably best to try something simpler. After bathing your baby, it can be helpful to follow up with some baby-friendly moisturizer, especially if your baby tends to have dry skin.
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When To Give Your Newborn A Bath
You can bath your baby at any time of the day. Its a good idea to pick a time when youre relaxed and you wont be interrupted. And its best to avoid bathing your baby when baby is hungry or straight after a feed.
If bathing relaxes your baby, you can use it as a way to settle your baby for sleep in the evening.
How To Give Your Baby A Bath
Get everything ready before you start your baby’s bath:
Ensure that all the supplies you need like shampoo, soap, a hooded towel, and a cup for rinsing are within armâs reachânever leave your baby unattended in the bath, so make sure you have everything you need on hand, including your babyâs fresh change of clothes
Make sure the room is warm before undressing your baby.
Follow these step-by-step guidelines for bathing your baby:
Line a sink or baby bathtub with a towel, and fill it about 2 inches full of warm water âtest it with your elbow or the inside of your wrist to make sure itâs not too hot
While supporting your babyâs head with your non-dominant hand, use your other hand to guide him into the water feet first. Youâll want to do this swiftly so he doesnât get cold, and youâll want to make sure his head and most of his body are above the water level
Wash his body from top to bottom with clear water, and, if you prefer, a mild baby soap. Keep him warm by pouring warm water over his body using a cup. Use a soft cloth to wash his face
If he has hair, itâs enough to shampoo once or twice a week. When you do, massage a drop of mild baby shampoo into his scalp, even the soft spots of his head. Be careful not to get any soapsuds or shampoo in his eyesâcup your hands over his forehead when rinsing his head. If some soap or shampoo does get into his eyes, go ahead and wipe them using a cloth dampened with clear water.
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Why Is It Important To Bathe A Newborn Baby
The benefits of bathtime go way beyond a basic cleanup! Heres why baths are good for babies:
They boost bonding. Bathtime quickly becomes a highlight of the day because its all about time spent together. Taking care of your baby lets her know you care, so gaze into her eyes, kiss that yummy baby belly, count those tiny toes and sing silly songs as you wash. Feeling your gentle touch and hearing your voice will let your little one know how much she’s loved.
Theres so much learning. Yup, there’s plenty to learn in the tub. Tickle your little one’s senses by trickling water gently onto her tummy or teach a lesson in cause-and-effect by showing how to kick the water and create a splash. And don’t forget a play-by-play as you wash name her little body parts as you bathe and she’ll be learning a tub-full of words!
They can be soothing. You probably already know this from your own bathing experience, but nothing’s more calming and comforting than a soak in a tub after a long day. Up the relaxation even more by trying your hand at infant massage afterwards. While most little ones love it, if your baby balks , don’t sweat it just cuddle instead.
They may induce sleep. There’s even more reason to love bathing your baby, especially if you add it to her bedtime routine. The warm water, warm room and warm feeling of being safe, secure and loved work magic and will put your baby in the mood to snooze.
Baby Bath: Time For A Sponge Bath
Gentle sponge baths are perfect for the first few weeks until the umbilical cord falls off, the circumcision heals, and the navel heals completely.
The basics of bathing a baby:
- First, undress baby — cradling the head with one hand. Leave the diaper on . Wrap baby in a towel, exposing only those areas that you are washing.
- Using a baby bath sponge or wash cloth, cleanse one area at a time. Start behind the ears, then move to the neck, elbows, knees, between fingers and toes. Pay attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck.
- The hair comes toward the end of bath time so baby doesn’t get cold. While newborns don’t have much hair, you can sponge the few wisps that are there. To avoid getting eyes wet, tip the head back just a little. There’s no need for shampoo just use water.
- Now it’s time to remove the diaper and sponge baby’s belly, bottom, and genitals.
- Wash little girls from front to back. If there’s a little vaginal discharge, don’t worry — and don’t try to wipe it all away. If a little boy is uncircumcised, leave the foreskin alone. If circumcised, don’t wash the head of the penis until it’s healed.
- Gently pat baby dry. Rubbing the skin will irritate it.
Bath time is over, and your fresh little baby is ready for a clean diaper and clothes!
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