By Brandi M. Seals
Certain things about motherhood may seem easy, like how to bathe a baby, when in fact there is actually a little bit of a trick to it. Maybe you have down pat the hold the baby still with one hand while lathering up soap with the other one, but do you also know that it is often better to bathe your child every other day? There delicate skin can dry out easily especially when washed frequently. Here are some tips to help new mothers settle into their new role and keep their babies clean, healthy and happy.
If your baby's umbilical cord has not fallen off yet or he has been recently circumcised, he should take sponge baths until those areas have healed. To sponge bath a baby, lay him or her down on a flat level surface. If the surface is not naturally cushy, try to pad their bodies with a mat or some towels. Using a wet sponge or wash cloth and warm water, wipe off your baby's face and scalp. Babies do not need to be shampooed at every bath. Once or twice a week is plenty.
Next, use your hand or wash cloth to soap up the baby's body. Pay special attention to the folds of flesh. Be sure to get in there and get everything clean but keep in mind that a little soap goes a long way.
Now the baby is ready to be rinsed. Use a rinsed out washcloth to go over the baby's body several times removing any soap or dirt. Rinse the washcloth frequently with warm clear water and continue to rinse the baby off. When done bathing pat the baby dry with a towel.
If your baby is ready for tub bathing gather up all your supplies you will need first. They should include two towels, one to place the baby on, one to dry him off; a washcloth, mild soap and a basin or tub. If you do not have a basin or baby bathtub, use the kitchen sink or a large pan for bathing the baby. It is too hard to hold on to one little baby in a large bathtub, so always use something smaller.
Fill the tub with a couple inches of water. Make sure it is not too hot or too cold by testing the water on your wrist. When the baby is in the bath, be sure to always hold his head up. Keep your wrist behind his head at all times and using the same hand, hold on to your baby's armpit/shoulder area. Never ever leave the baby unattended. All it takes is a second for something horrible to go wrong.
Wash the baby the same way you did when he or she still required sponge bathing. Clean his head and face first with just warm water - using shampoo for the scalp and hair once or twice a week. Then soap up the rest of him. If you notice your baby's skin is becoming excessively dry, try to cut back bathing so that it is done every other day or every three days. If that does not work, cut back on the soap used. Try switching to a milder variety, or only use soap every other bath. As long as you keep the folds of the skin free of any dirt or debris, there will be no problems. Keep in mind that babies don't have to be cleaned as regularly as we do because they are generally very clean and they don't have anything to get into.
Once the bath is done, gently place the baby on a dry towel and blot him dry with another towel. Be sure to get everything dry. Avoid using lotions or powders. They can cause rashes and are generally not needed. However, if the baby has overly dry skin, a light coat of lotion may help. Use a cotton swap to clean the outer ear of your baby. But, never use the cotton swap in the ear canal. The ear wax is there to protect the ear and to keep it clean.
Baths usually relax babies and can be easily incorporated into a night time schedule. Many often enjoy baths just prior to feeding as well. So find what works for you and go with it.