Newborn Bath Basics
Hi there to all new moms and about to be moms!
This week I thought I’d give you a few hints and tips on how to go about bathing your newborn. Handling a wet, wiggling and slippery baby can be a bit hair raising but before you know it, you will be an expert if you follow these few tips!
Get all your ducks in a row!
The first step is to get everything you might need and have it close to hand! Choose a time of day convenient for yourself and when you would expect no interruptions. A baby bath is an essential in my opinion, as it is just too awkward to try to bathe a newborn in our adult baths. Place the baby bath on a stable surface (I used the top of a chest of drawers which was a convenient height for me) and fill the bath with approximately 10-13cm of warm water. You want enough water to cover your newborn’s shoulders when they are in the bath. Test the water temperature with your wrist (if you have a bath thermometer, this is even better). The water should be between 36-38 ˚C
Topping & Tailing
Now that you are ready, the first step is to “top and tail” a newborn in order to avoid cross-infection. Topping and tailing simply means that you carefully wash your baby’s face, neck, hands and nappy area before you immerse your newborn in the baby bath. Gently clean these areas using cotton pads or a soft cloth.
“Topping” When doing the “top” end, have your baby in his nappy and wrapped in a towel to keep him warm. He can be lying on top of the nappy change area for “topping” with the baby bath close at hand. Start by wiping each closed eye with its own piece of cotton wool dampened with warm water. Work outwards from the inner corner of baby’s eye. Use a fresh piece of cotton wool to wash around his mouth and nose and another piece for his ears and cheeks. You can use a soft cloth dampened with the warm water to wash in the folds of baby’s neck, behind his ears and under his arms where fluff can collect. Remember not to put a cotton bud or pad in your baby’s ears or up their nose…just clean what you can see!
“Tailing” Once you have finished with the “topping”, keep your little one’s top covered with the towel and remove the nappy… if you have a little boy, watch out for the fountain!!! For an uncircumcised boy, wash the penis and scrotum area without pulling back the foreskin. Wash from front to back. For a circumcised boy avoid washing the head of the penis until it is healed. If you have a baby girl, using cotton pad dampened with the warm water, wash gently from front to back.
If you are not going to continue to a full bath, use a barrier cream on the nappy area to prevent nappy rash, dress your baby and wrap them in a blanket to keep warm.
The full bath
cradling baby with firm hold using a jug to pour water onto baby
Mom’s nowadays are very fortunate in that you actually can buy a baby bath support which you place in the baby bath and your baby lies on top of this. The support leaves both your hands free for you to wash or play with your baby and is designed in such a way that baby will not roll off it. However, if you don’t have one of these and you are now going to go on with a full bath, cradle your baby’s head with one arm and hold him under his one arm while gently lowering him into the water in the baby bath. Keep a firm hold of him! Lower him into the water so that the water covers his shoulders in order to keep him warm. Use your free hand or a jug to scoop the warm water over your baby’s tum and gently wash that area. Your newborn’s hair wash comes last so that they don’t get cold. Tip your baby’s head back a little so that the water doesn’t run into his eyes and using a little baby shampoo gently wash whatever hair he has. Rinse off the shampoo and bath time is done!
Wrap him up in a nice dry and warm towel and pat him dry, rather than rubbing him. Dry in the folds of skin and under the arms, in the groin area, under the chin, around the neck and behind the ears. Use the barrier cream on his nappy area before putting on his nappy and getting him dressed.
Remember that for the first few weeks it really isn’t necessary to do the “full” bath, as newborns don’t really have much opportunity to get dirty! The “topping” and “tailing” are all that you need to do. Especially if you have a winter baby when it is difficult to keep the bath water warm for him. Also singing or talking to your baby as you bathe him can help to provide comfort and support and soon your little one will be looking forward to his bath time!
Have fun and enjoy your baby’s bath time! Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comment box below!
photo credit: Lydia of GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography
Yours in newborn photography