Bathing your newborn is not necessary everyday, as this tends to dry and irritate their skin. I would recommend to bathe your baby every second day. And then sponge bathing your baby between bath days are a good way to keep your newborn fresh as a daisy! Continue reading for baby bath tips…
Daily Sponge Bath:
By sponge bathing you do not need to clean the whole body, you can gently wash their face, neck creases, and hands with warm water and a soft cloth. Sponge bathing their bum and genitals can simply be done with warm water and a gentle cloth. Using diaper wipes with every diaper change can be very irritating for babies sensitive bottoms. Doing this simple water rinse at those messy diaper changes once or twice daily is more natural, less irritating, and more soothing!
Bathing – Step by Step:
Temperature is key. Make sure the temperature of the room is adequately warm, with no draft. Close the windows/doors and fans. Babies can lose their temperature very quickly, especially when wet. Make sure baby is also of adequate temperature! It is not necessary to take their temperature every time before a bath, but if your baby feels cold or if unsure, then you can verify by taking it. You should not give your baby a bath if below 36.4 degrees celsius when taken axillary. Axillary (armpit) temperature is not the most accurate method, however it is the least invasive.
Be prepared. Gather all supplies needed for the bath prior to starting. This way it’ll prevent you from interrupting the bath to retrieve your forgotten item. Interrupting the bath may cool down the water – requiring a whole refill and may make a fussy baby even fussier.
What supplies you need:
- Baby bath or basin
- Several soft wash cloths
- Cotton pads or squares to clean the eyes
- Gentle baby wash – hypoallergenic and unscented baby soap is easier on a baby’s sensitive skin, as it cleans while maintaining the pH balance of the skin; is not as drying as other soaps; and is less irritating.
- Optional baby lotion. While not all baby’s require lotion, you may choose to use it in the case of dry skin on babies torsos and limbs. Use a lotion that is sensitive for baby’s skin and massage in after baby is completely dry.
- Drying towels/blankets. Make sure these towels are soft and not rough. Pop them in the dryer before bath time and have them ready to dry your newborn. These warm towels will be very comforting and soothing.
- New diaper
- Clean clothes or onesies
- Baby hat. Babies lose the majority of heat through their head, with wet hair this increases the heat loss considerably. Put a hat on the baby as soon as you have finished washing and drying their hair.
- Water. Fill up the basin with warm water once you have gathered everything you need and are ready for the bath. The water should be lukewarm. Feel the temperature on your wrist, it should not feel cold or hot. Once you have the perfect temperature filled in the basin, swirl around the water to make sure the temperature is evenly dispersed. Fill another container of the same temperature water to pour on your baby’s hair to rinse.
- Note: Never fill the water with the baby in the bath. Babies have ultra sensitive skin that can burn with hot tap water.
Safety. Never leave a baby unattended in or beside a bath, not even for 1 second. If for whatever reason you must interrupt the bath, take the baby with you wrapped in a warm blanket.
- Swaddle the baby snuggly leaving only the head and face free. Leave the top corner untucked in the swaddle so you can use it easily to dry the hair after washing. Hold in a “football hold” snug against your body. Have your baby in only a diaper underneath the swaddle. This will prevent an unfortunate situation during the face and hair wash!
- Start with the face. Do not add the soap to the basin yet. Always use only water and NO SOAP with the face. Starting at the eyes, inner corner to outer corner and changing the cotton square with each wipe of the eye. Wash the rest of the face with a clean washcloth, including the mouth, nose, and ears. Never put Q-tips or cotton swabs in a baby’s ear. To clean the ears wipe with a wash cloth on the ear, around, and behind.
- Add a generous quarter size of baby soap to the bath water. Swirl around to mix.
- Clean the neck. Paying particular attention to the creases where milk can spill and get trapped in.
- Wash the baby’s hair thoroughly. While holding the baby still in “football hold” over the bath, rinse with your separate container of water by gently pouring over baby’s hair avoiding the eyes. Dry the hair with the corner of the blanket you left out of the swaddle.
- Submerge! Place the baby in the bath while supporting their head and neck at all times. Always wash from “clean” to “dirty”, leaving the genitals then the bum last. Never use the same washcloth used for the baby’s bum for the rest of the body. There is no need to wash or apply soap to a dried umbilical cord, simply wash around. You will not hurt the umbilical cord as there are no nerve endings.
- Dry up! Place the baby on the drying towel placed on top of a padded surface. Dry well, especially the creases in their legs, groin, armpits, and neck regions. Leaving an area such as a crease moist, is a habitat for fungal infections to grow.
- Place the diaper, clothes, and hat. All done!
Babies tend to love bath time, finding it particularly soothing prior to bedtime. Many parents choose to have a bedtime routine, involving a calming bath.
Note: Be sure to give the bath before feeding to prevent your baby from regurgitating.
Let me know if you enjoyed this blog post and if you have any helpful tips that you use for bathing a newborn!