Thursday, December 29, 2005

Splish-Splash Baby's First Bath

When you think your baby is ready to move from the baby tub to the big people bathing area, you are probably still nervous. Try to make the transition smoothly, though, and baby will be splashing and playing with ducky in no time at all. First, be sure that your child can sit up alone and hold his head up without any assistance. Otherwise, the bath will be uncomfortable as you will have to hold baby and his head up while washing him.

Next, you need to be sure that your bathtub area is suitable for a baby's bath. If you have a particularly slippery tub, you want to be sure that you put down something with a grain, such as those bath mats in the shape of feet. Babies are ridiculously slippery, as you have probably already found out, and they need something to keep their little bottoms still. You also should check to be sure there is some type of handrail or something you can grab in case of an imminent fall.

The faucet is the first possible source of danger in a bathtub. Be sure that you turn the cold on first and off last. That will prevent dripping hot water that baby may get to. If she does get to the water, she will not burn herself if you have turned the cold off last. Also try to keep baby at the opposite end of the bathtub from the faucet. That will help eliminate little injuries when he or she bumps the noggin on the faucet.

Also check the water before you put baby in. Okay, here I admit that I am a bit old-fashioned. We have those little ducks with the disks on the bottom of them to let you know if the water is hot or cold. I have not used them although my son does enjoy bobbing the ducks around his bathwater. Check the water before you put the baby in. You will begin to get an idea of a good temperature, but if you miss out, baby will let you know. You will hear wailing, and baby will do everything to keep from touching the water. If that happens, it is too hot. Put some cold in and try again.

For the first few baby baths in the big tub, it helps to try to keep baby comfortable. Remember that while the tub's purpose is obvious to you, it is not to baby. Plus, it is much bigger than he is, so you need to keep that in mind. You should run the water before you bring baby in so that she is not scared or unsure of what is happening. Have everything handy that you will need as well because you do not want to have to leave baby alone. Also let the water out after baby leaves for the same reason. After a couple of baths, you can introduce the little one to the whole bathing experience a little at a time. Also try putting the baby tub into the bathtub even if baby does not sit in it. The familiarity will help the process go smoothly.

Make bathing fun but also about business. Fill the tub with only a few inches of water so that baby can splash around. Then you take a washcloth and give baby one as well. Allow him or her to wash off the toys in the tub while you wash your baby. You can sing the name of the parts or just chit-chat while your baby is in the tub. You should keep only a couple of toys in the tub. There is no need to overdo it. Baby does not need a full bathtub of toys and should not have any bubbles or coloring soaps at this point. Just keep it simple - a ducky and maybe a washcloth animal.

Making the bathing experience comforting is important. If your little one seems afraid, it may not be time yet. You can try again in a few days. Keep trying and moving the baby's bathtub closer to the tub every time. Also let him or her see your bathwater. Touch the water. Talk about it being soothing. Baby will get the picture eventually and be able to splish-splash with the best of them.

By Julia Mercer

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