By Rebecca VanGinkel
After you bring your new baby home from the hospital, one of the first things you will want to do is give him or her a bath. Your doctor probably advised you to wait to give your new baby a bath in a tub until his umbilical cord falls off, but you can give your baby a sponge bath. There are a few things you will need to do this.
You will need a hooded towel, which will keep your young baby warm while you are washing him. You will also need washcloths, a warm bowl of water, and a gentle, tearless soap. Baby soap and baby shampoo are the same thing. You wash a baby's whole body with the same soap, even his hair. You might also like someone with a camera to be there to capture your baby's first sponge bath. Make sure that the water is not too hot or cold. A baby's skin is very sensitive and you do not want to burn him. Also, make sure that you have everything you need to clean the umbilical cord, like a cotton ball or swab, and some rubbing alcohol. It is also ideal to be standing near a kitchen or bathroom counter, to rest your child on. It will be a bit awkward to give your child a sponge bath while leaned over a bathtub.
After you have gathered everything you need, it is time to give your new baby a bath. First, start out by undressing your baby, and wrapping him in the hooded towel. You will want to keep your baby covered, except for the part you are washing. Start the bath by just wiping your baby's face clean with warm water and a washcloth. You do not need to use soap on the face, it may get into your baby's eyes or mouth, and he will not be too happy. Next, take the towel off your baby's head, and wash his hair with warm soap, and just a drop of baby shampoo. Rinse the shampoo out by rubbing the baby's head with the wet washrag until all the soap is out. When you are finished with that, place the hooded towel back on your baby's head. Next, wash your baby's arms and belly with soap and water. Gently clean your child's private area also, being very careful if you have a son that has been recently circumcised. After you wipe all the soap off, turn your baby over, and clean his back and backside. Place the towel back around your baby and dry him off. To finish, wash your baby's legs and feet with soap and water, then rinse them off, and dry them.
When you are finished, leave your baby wrapped in his hooded towel for about fifteen minutes. You want to make sure that your baby is completely dry before you take his towel off. Your child can easily catch cold if he is wet with no clothes on. After he is dry, lay him down and lotion his entire body with a baby lotion, or baby oil. Gently clean the umbilical cord, as your doctor has recommended. Most doctors advise you to use a cotton swab, or cotton ball, soaked in rubbing alcohol. Gently dab the cord with the cotton, and then discard it. The umbilical cord will change color, and eventually fall off. Next, diaper your baby and put his outfit on him. Don't forget a hat if it is slightly cool in your home. It will keep his head warm, and keep him from getting sick.
After your baby's umbilical cord falls off, it is safe to give your baby a real bath. It is ideal to have a baby bathtub, which you can buy in any large retail store. A baby bathtub will have the back raised, so your child will not be laying flat in the water, and you will not have to hold him up. This way, both of your hands will be free. Fill the tub with warm water, and place your child unclothed into the tub. Clean your baby the same way you did when giving him a sponge bath. If your baby cries, do not remove him from the water. It is a new feeling for him, but he will get used to it, and eventually he will like bath time.
Make sure the room you are bathing him in is warm. If it is cold, the skin that is not covered in water will be extremely cold, and your baby will be screaming to let you know. The more comfortable your child is, the easier it will be to give him a bath.
Giving your child a bath for the first time is something you will want to remember forever. If it is an option for you, take pictures. It will be fun to look back when your child is older and remember what his first bath was like!