Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rub-a-Dub-Dub: Bathing Baby

When you are able to first bathe your newborn, there are some things that you will need to keep in mind. You want to make it a nice experience for both you and baby, so knowing these things before that first bath happens will be helpful.

The baby's doctor will most likely give the consent for that first bath after healing has occurred to the umbilical cord. What are some of the things that you will need to know and remember?

First of all you will want the room where you are doing the bathing to be warm. If that room isn't heated very well normally, think about using a space heater to help get the room ready for the baby. Remember that it does not need to be the bathroom . . . the kitchen sink will work fine if that room is warmer. If you have a baby tub, just sit it on the counter if your kitchen is warmer than the bathroom.

Another important item is to make sure you have everything ready and within reach before you start the bath. Never leave the baby unattended for any amount of time or for any reason, no matter how "safe" it may appear with such a small amount of water. It is not safe in any way. If you forgot a bath item, take the baby with you to get it.

The water should not be too cool or too warm, just a comfortable warmth for baby's delicate skin. Remember to use just enough water that is necessary to do the job.

Babies do not often enjoy the bath water, so make sure to plan a quiet and gentle experience to whatever extent you can do so. Prepare the baby slowly while talking or singing to him or her. If you can make this a calm bonding time, it will be a lovely memory. (But keep in mind that some babies will just hate water so much that nothing you do will make the tears stop.)

Remember that wet babies are very slippery and become moreso after you use baby wash or soap. Always make sure that you have a strong hold on the baby so he won't be slipping from your grasp.

Be certain that water doesn't splash up into the baby's face and always support the head and keep it away from the water. When you wash the baby's face and head, use very little soap and of course keep the soap away from the eyes. A very soft baby wash cloth works well for this, but wring it out as much as possible first.

Be mindful when doing the top of the head and protect the anterior fontanel (soft spot). After the head and face are finished, it is just a matter of making sure to wash the rest of the baby, rinse the soap away, and then bath time is finished.

Whether you are using a hooded towel that many parents prefer or just a regular (soft!) towel, it is still important to keep the baby warm while you are doing the drying. Put a new diaper on the baby and dress him as soon as possible.