By Heather Pohlabel
Your baby's cord has fallen off and you are more than ready to give him his first "real" bath! You will enjoy the experience as much as your baby, and it can become a very fun event for both of you if you do it correctly. Avoiding a few common mistakes and keeping it simple will ensure a happy bath time for you and your baby.
Whether bathing your baby in the sink, a baby bathtub, or your full-sized bathtub for the first time, be sure that you have everything you need within reach before you even start the water flowing! You not only need to give your baby your full on attention during his bath time, but you will want to as well. Who would want to miss the new expressions on his face as he experiences the warm water for the first time since his birth?
The first thing you need to do to prepare for bath time is make sure that your baby is not hungry and is ready to be bathed. Gather everything you will need - baby tub or bath wedge, washcloth, baby shampoo, and baby body wash, or a combination of the two - an all over wash works well and saves you having to gather more items. You will also want to have a nice big towel laid out so you can quickly place your baby in it when you are done with the bath. Keep any diaper rash cream, lotion, or powder or oil nearby that you plan to apply to your baby's skin after his bath. Make sure you have an outfit and diaper awaiting his freshly cleansed body! He will not tolerate the cool air for very long, so it is important to have all of these items ready before you even begin your bath.
You are ready to run the bath water. Start out using cooler water and move to warmer water. Your bath water should not exceed 105 degrees. You can best test the comfort level of the water with your elbow. Too cool water will make your baby uncomfortable and too hot could scald your baby. If you have a water thermometer, use it. When you have enough water to cover your baby's legs and bottom, you can place him in the water.
As soon as your baby is used to the water, you can introduce the water to more parts of his body by using your hand as a cup or using an actual cup to pour the water over his body. Start at his belly, which is the area closest to the parts of his body that are already in the water, and work your way up. Keep your baby warm by placing the washcloth over his body and keep it warm by pouring water over it every few seconds.
When you are ready to wash your baby, use the same basic procedure you used when sponge bathing. Start with a clean washcloth with no soap on it for your baby's face, neck, and ears. Shampoo his hair, being careful to only use a dime sized amount or smaller and being careful to keep the soap and water from his eyes. While most baby shampoos and washes are safe for baby's eyes, this can still irritate your baby and make bath time less fun.
Always be sure to keep a hand by your baby's head to avoid it slipping into and under the water. A baby can drown very easily in a relatively small amount of water.
Now you can soap up the rest of your baby's body with baby wash. Be sure to clean in any folds of skin. Also be sure to rinse your baby completely, ensuring no soap residue lead to an itchy rash.
After your baby is done enjoying his first warm bath, quickly place him in the towel and wrap him up. If you choose, you can apply a lotion or oil to his skin before dressing him. These are not necessary for most babies, but keep them smelling fresh! Powder is not recommended for babies any more because the particles can get into their lungs through inhalation.
You have successfully bathed your baby for the first time. Now you can dress your baby and comb his hair. Take a picture or two to remind you of your baby's first bath! It was an exciting time for both you and him, and one of your very first "firsts" together.