Although it may sound straightforward, bathing a reluctant, slippery baby can be a challenging experience. The best advice is to make bathing a part of your baby’s regular routine, and she’ll soon get used to it, and even come to enjoy it—as will you. Follow these guidelines:
  • When she’s small, use a clean kitchen or bathroom sink, or a plastic baby bath—this will make her feel confident, and also protect your back

  • Newborns don’t need a daily bath—spongebathing, or “topping and tailing,” in between full baths is just fine

  • Stay calm and don’t panic if your baby wriggles—bathtime takes practice

  • Don’t fully submerge your baby until her umbilical cord stump falls off

  • Run the water before you put your baby in, and, if you have a single tap, flush it with cold water so it is not hot to touch, and won’t drip hot water

  • The water should be no hotter than 100°F (38°C)

  • Never, ever leave your baby or small child unattended, even for a second

  • Make sure you are well prepared—lay out her towel, washcloth, diaper, clean clothes, and baby lotion in advance (but out of splashing distance)

  • Slip your baby into the bath feet first, and use one hand to support her neck and head, resting them on the palm of your hand or forearm

  • Gently splash or pour plastic cupfuls of warm water over your baby throughout her bath, to keep her warm

  • Use a thin washcloth to clean her face; around her eyes and face, if there are any sticky or hardened bits, gently dab at them rather than trying to scrape them off; add a drop of baby wash to the cloth to clean her neck, torso, behind her ears, between fingers and toes, and her genitals

  • Gently turn her toward you and into the crook of your arm to wash her bottom and back last

  • Wash her scalp or any hair she has with a drop of baby shampoo, and pour a small cup of clean water to remove the suds

  • Use a cotton ball to clean around her umbilical cord stump

  • Rinse your baby, and then lift her out of the bath with one hand supporting her neck and head, and the other under her bottom; hold one thigh firmly with your thumb and forefinger—wet babies are slippery

  • Lift her straight on to a hooded towel, and pat her dry immediately; if she has dry skin, you may wish to use a very gentle lotion or oil, although most babies won’t need anything extra

  • Get her diaper on as quickly as possible, making sure you have carefully dried the crevices around her genitals and any little rolls on her legs; be aware that babies often urinate just before you get the diaper fastened

  • It’s nice to give your baby a cuddle in a dry towel before you dress her fully—this will help make the bath experience pleasant and memorable

  • Dress her, swaddle her in a warm blanket, and enjoy her fresh scent

Bathing together

There’s no reason why you can’t take your baby into the bath or shower with you. Most babies love it! Just make sure the water isn’t too hot, and you don’t use any bath or shower products that may irritate her sensitive skin. Having another pair of hands available to scoop her out of the bath first and to dry and dress her can make the experience even more enjoyable and successful.

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