How to bathe your newborn

In my previous post, I mentioned pointers to remember while massaging your newborn.

Once the massage is done, and your child is truly shaken by the experience, it is time to bathe her. Some kids love the water and some just hate it. My daughter is yet to decide if she enjoys bathing or not. Some days she is the most obedient, aqua-loving child. On other days she is a hydrophobic being from another planet.

At the hospital we witnessed for the first time how our two-day old daughter was bathed and (man)handled by the nurses. She was screaming at the top of her lungs and we were sure she’s going to hate it in the future. But things changed when we started bathing her at home. I absolutely love to bathe my two-month old daughter, yes, I will not deny that it is a nervy experience, constantly worrying about soap going her eyes, water in her mouth and slipping from my hands. Just be confident and hang on to the thought this is the best time of the day for you.

Here are some pointers that I have listed down on bathing your newborn:

  1. Bath Tub – A very thoughtful baby gift we received recently from our friends; a Fisher-Price Bath Tub Rainforest Friends. An ergonomically proficient product that can easily fit into your standard sized bathroom. The tub is for babies 0-9 months. It comes with a cloth sling, where she is placed and the water drains and collects in the tub. There is a small drain hole which can be opened to let the dirty water out. The tub costs around 5000/- INR.
  1. Wet towel – Place a wet towel on the sling at the head part of the sling. The baby is going to move about and could hurt her head. The wet towel gives her extra protection. It also helps her to stay in place and reduce the chances of her slipping down.
  2. Water temperature – The ideal water temperature should be anywhere in the region of 38 to 40 degrees. Too hot and you risk burning the baby’s sensitive skin. Too cold and the baby will shudder and shiver. So be absolutely sure that the water is the perfect temperature.
  3. Hand shower or pouring cup – I have tried both the options and I prefer the pouring cup. Though the hand shower seems like the perfect choice but the problem is that the water temperature will constantly fluctuate and you’ll be spending more time regulating the temperature than washing your baby. Even when you do use the pouring cup make sure you don’t dump all the water in one go that’ll only startle and aggravate her. Remember you are bathing a baby and not washing clothes, be as delicate as possible.
  4. Soap – Like any parent, any and every product we use, had to be the baby version, including soap. What we realized was that it wasn’t the best product to scrub the oil off the body. Our pediatrician then recommended Pears soap and we have been using it ever since. It breaks down the oil, lathers really nicely and smells great. Just a word of advice, do not soap the baby’s face, it tends to dry up the skin.
  5. Hair wash – This can be a bit tricky, you have to be very careful when you wash the baby’s head because the soapy water can go in her eyes and mouth. The best way to avoid this is to tilt her head backwards and pour the water such that the water doesn’t stream down her face. This is the moment when your child will probably cry the most, so brace yourself. I use a baby shampoo for her head and forehead. Also try not to wash her hair everyday it could lead to dry scalp.
  6. Handling the baby – At some point you will have to flip the baby to wash the back. Make sure that her chest is directly over your forearm. Do not put too much pressure on the throat as the baby might choke. Keep moving the baby to ensure that all the soap water drains off. She will also kick a lot during this stage so be quick. Please wash the skin folds, underarms and the privates thoroughly, you don’t want any soapy residue left on the body, as it can cause skin irritation
  7. Towel – Make sure the fan, air conditioner, window, door, everything is shut. And keep the towel ready as soon as you are done with her, you don’t want to run around looking for one while your baby is dripping wet. 

The entire bathing process should not take more than 10-12 minutes. Initially both of us used to bathe her but now I have enough confidence to do it all by myself and give my wife some much wanted ‘me time’. After this she would feed and then off to bed… hopefully.

2 thoughts on “How to bathe your newborn

Add yours

  1. My daughter was born in Finland where Finnish doctors showed us how to bath a young baby in the ordinary sink…crazy? but sooo easy! We’ve got so used to it that when we bought a bath tub, we used once!! Also, when we started traveling with Lia ( over 1 year straight) we continued bathing her in the sink until she grew too big. Then I was taking shower with her together, it was really nice and bonding :)))

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