A new addition to the family can be the cause of both excitement and apprehension. If this is your first, you might find yourself asking a flood of questions. Hospital maternity wards teach new parents how to change a diaper, how to nurse, and how to hold your baby, but they skip one of the most crucial, basic lessons – how to bathe your baby.
A newborn’s body is delicate and fragile. Every single day, they face countless first-time experiences, some of which they find pleasant, while others, a little scary. To babies, the world outside the womb seems large and daunting, and they constantly encounter stimulation and sounds that are new to them.
For many newborns, those first baths can be quite the challenge. For the first time, new parents must undress their baby and expose their defenseless body to the water. Babies may cry while being undressed and bathed, and this can be the cause of stress and anxiety for many parents, too.
Tips and advice for turning bath time into gratifying quality time:
When is the best time of day to bathe my baby?
Ideally, bathe your baby once a day before feeding. A bath in the evening is believed to help promote better sleep patterns and should be added to your baby’s daily routine. The more consistent you are with your baby’s bathing, feeding and sleeping habits, the more easily your baby will adapt to routine.
Ideal water temperature
The ideal temperature for bath water is 36 degrees Celsius. Water temperature can be tested with a thermometer and should be double-checked by dipping your elbow into the water – if the temperature feels good to you, it should feel good to your baby.
Be sure to keep an eye on room temperature. In the winter, keep the bathroom and the room where you dress your baby well heated.
Wash from clean to dirty
Wash your baby from the cleanest area (the eye area) to the dirtiest (the bottom). Pay special attention to the folds of the skin: the neck, behind the ears, the underarms, the elbows, the groin area, behind the knees, and between the fingers and toes. These areas carry a higher risk of irritation.
Washing your baby’s genitals:
Girls: Wash from front to back and not the other way around in order to prevent contamination.
Boys: Wash under your baby’s genitals to prevent his skin from becoming irritated by stool.
How often should I wash my baby’s hair?
Wash your baby’s hair every 1-2 days. Gently wash her hair starting at the forehead and moving towards the back of the neck to avoid the contact of soap with the eyes. If your baby has cradle cap, do not try to peel or remove the scales because this can harm her scalp or pull at her hair. Choose a very gentle soapless shampoo like SeboCalm Baby Body Wash and Shampoo based on a paraben-free, oil-free formula for baby’s sensitive skin. Use shampoo and other baby skincare products that are hypoallergenic and have been dermatologically tested for sensitive skin.
Choosing the right soap or bath oil is important
Baby’s skin is very thin and delicate, making it sensitive to harsh weather and dry climate. Hygiene products not suited to this skin type can lead to dry, red and irritated skin. Moisturize and nourish the skin with pH-balanced products and avoid products that contain parabens (preservatives) and mineral oils. Choose products that have been dermatologically tested and are suitable for sensitive skin, such as SeboCalm Baby Bath Oil that contains oils derived only from plant sources to protect your baby’s delicate skin and to keep it healthy.
Undress your baby and remove her diaper. Most babies do not like to be naked, so once she is undressed, immediately cover her with a cloth and carry her to the preheated bathroom.
Slowly lower your baby into the bath feet first to help her easily adjust to the water. Hold her securely by the arms with her head and back resting against your hand, leaving your other hand free to wash her.
Wash your baby from the head down. Be sure to wash the folds of the skin: under the neck, the elbows, the knees and the groin area. Immerse your baby up to her armpits to help her relive the experience of being fully immersed in the womb.
All throughout, sing to your baby and talk to her. Calmly, soothingly explain the process and maintain constant contact to help her feel secure.
When bath time is over, pat your baby’s skin dry with a towel without rubbing (to avoid irritating the skin). Pay extra attention to the folds of the skin and the elbows and knees. If the umbilical cord has not fallen off yet, gently clean the area with a cotton pad or swab doused in 70% alcohol. Use face and body lotion suitable for baby’s skin as needed. Products that are not specially formulated for baby’s skin can clog pores and impair proper skin function.
The secret lies in advance preparation
Prepare all items needed for bath time in advance for the smoothest possible experience.
Items needed include soap or bath oil suitable for baby’s delicate, sensitive skin; a soft towel; a set of clean clothes; a clean diaper; face and body lotion specially formulated for baby’s skin; a cotton pad doused in 70% alcohol; diaper rash ointment containing gentle ingredients to treat redness and dry skin; and a comb or a brush.