While most babies will quickly learn to love bath time, don't be surprised if yours squirms or cries at first – all that water takes some getting used to! Here are some tips to make bath time safe and pleasant for both of you.
Newborn babies don't get very dirty, so as long as you clean your baby's bottom thoroughly at each diaper change, you probably won't need to bathe her more than two or three times a week.
Likewise, your baby's hair (if she has any) won't need to be shampooed at every bath; just do it whenever it seems necessary.
The umbilical cord and cleaning
While your baby still has her umbilical cord attached, quick sponge baths (with your baby lying securely on a soft padded surface) let you avoid submerging the cord stump, which needs to stay dry.
When your baby's cord has fallen off, she'll be ready for a true bath. Use a bathinette, sink or plastic tub lined with a towel and filled with about two inches of water.
How to bathe your baby
- Always bathe your baby in a warm, draft-free room.
- Have a dry towel handy to wrap her up immediately after her bath.
- Placing a warm, wet washcloth over your baby's stomach during her bath may help prevent her from becoming chilled.
- Use a soft washcloth or sponge to clean her.
- Rinse each part of your baby in turn, gently sponging off any visible flakes of skin.
- Be sure to check behind her ears, between her fingers and toes, under her arms, and in the folds of her neck and thighs, where debris often collects.
- The bath only has to be long enough to wipe off any debris and peeling skin that's collected.
- Keep one hand on your baby at all times – she could slip into the water in a heartbeat – and never leave your baby alone in the bath, even for a moment. If you have to leave the room, take her with you.
- After your baby's bath, gently pat her dry. You may want to moisturize her skin to help maintain its natural strength and softness.
Once you get used the bath-time routine you will start enjoying it and looking forward to this special bonding time with your baby. You can read more about bathing basics from Dr. Anthony Mancini.