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10 Tips for Bathing a Newborn


New parents sometimes feel apprehensive about bathing their tiny new babies. Have no fear: just follow these tips to make bath time a breeze.

Remember to always keep at least one hand on your infant while in the bath.

1. Go Sponge

a baby being dried after a bath

If your newborn still has the umbilical cord stump stick to simple sponge baths every few days so it stays dry and clean. Babies don’t get very dirty, with the exception of their diaper area, and under their chins where spit-up tends to trickle, so pay careful attention to those parts. You can skip the soap: some lukewarm water—not hot—is really all you need.

2. Timing Is Everything

an alarm clock

Plan on giving baths no more than a couple of times a week; any more could be too drying on your baby's super-soft skin. You'll want to pick a "sweet spot" time of day when your baby is well-rested and not hungry (but not right after eating because she might spit up). Some parents like doing a bath in the evening, about an hour after feeding but before putting baby down for the night, because the warm water can help the baby feel drowsy and ready to settle down to sleep.

3. Go Tear-Free

bathing soaps

Babies don't need a lot of soap. But you might want to use a bit on their bottoms and, if they have any hair, a little shampoo. When selecting your baby’s bath products, make sure you’re buying shampoos and baby washes that are tear-free and as gentle as possible. Some moms swear by lavender baby wash, which might have a soothing, drowsy affect on your little one.

4. Save the Shampooing

a baby being bathed

If you are using shampoo, save it for last so your little one won’t end up sitting in sudsy water, which can be drying; having wet hair will also make baby feel colder, so it’s best to get her out of the bath ASAP.

5. Gather Your Supplies

a baby lying in a bath

Before starting the bath, collect everything you need and place within arm’s length of the baby bath. Make sure the bottles are open and ready to pour; the last thing you want to be doing is trying to rip the safety seal off a bottle of baby wash while supporting your newborn with one arm.

6. Have a Helper

a dad helping mom bathing their baby

At least for the first couple of times, recruit someone to help out during baby’s bath time. Since under no circumstances may you leave your baby unattended in any amount of water, a helper will come in handy should you need to step away from the bath. Plus, if you’re not sure how your baby is going to react to the bath, having someone else there can be useful for ideas on how to soothe a wet and wailing babe.

7. Use a Bath Mat

a baby being bathed

A wet and soapy baby is a slippery baby. A bath pad or pillow is helpful for keeping your slippery sweetie in one spot; you can also line your sink or tub with a towel which adds a bit of warmth and comfort..

8. Temp Check

a thermometer lying next to a bath

Your babe is teeny-tiny, so she doesn't need much water. An inch or two is plenty, especially since you'll want to lie your baby down in the tub. Babies' skin is more sensitive than adults, so be sure to pay close attention to the water temperature—water that feels pleasantly toasty warm to you is probably too hot for your infant. Test the water before you put baby in with your elbow or the inside of your wrist; the water should be warm, not hot. A baby-bath thermometer should read 90 degrees or below.

9. Go Tropical

a thermos controller

Consider cranking up your thermostat before putting your baby in the bath. That way, your newborn will stay a cozy temperature when she’s both in and out of the water, which might help keep tears at bay.

10. Expect Some Tears (and Maybe a Mess)

a baby lying in a bath

Although you may love nothing more than a warm bath, your baby is more likely to see it as yet another shockingly new experience, and one that she might not like much. If this is the case, keep the bath short and get her dried off and in a snuggly outfit as quickly as possible. And don’t be surprised if a big diaper blowout happens soon after you’ve got her lotioned, powdered and dressed; post-bath diaper disasters seem to be a rite of passage for new parents ;)

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