During the first couple of weeks, if baby’s diaper area is being cleaned well, a baby sponge bath every two to three days should be just enough. Once the umbilical cord has fallen off and healed, you can begin bathing a baby using a baby tub or sink. Until babies become mobile and active, a bath two to three times a week should still be enough frequency.
There are several tubs to choose from, which is nice, but can also create confusion about which one is best for your baby. Many parents would recommend using free-standing plastic tubs that are designed specifically for newborns. Others would choose to use inflatable tubs or plastic basins that fit inside the bathtub. The kitchen or bathroom sink is another option when lined with a towel or rubber mat. There isn’t a right or wrong in this situation. It is primarily about ensuring whatever you choose is going to provide a safe, convenient setup for your home.
It is nice to establish a baby bath procedure when preparing for bath time. A few things to always do when getting set up to give your baby a bath include:
Tip #1: Choose a comfortable room
Select a comfortable room where the bath will be held and set the room temperature at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The comfort of the parent is very important, because a happy caregiver can directly affect the baby’s mood.
Tip #2: Test the water temperature
Fill the tub with two to four inches of water. Baby bath water temperature should be just a little above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a bath thermometer, you can test the water with your wrist or elbow, and baby bath water temperature should be warm, but not hot. It is a good idea to set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as this will eliminate the possibility of running water that could scorch or burn your baby’s skin.
Tip #3: Place baby bath essentials within reach
Gather all baby bath essentials, ready and prepared for use, and place items within reaching distance of the tub. This should include a clean towel (with a hoodie is ideal), washcloth, baby body wash and shampoo, a fresh diaper and clean clothes to change into after bath time.
Perhaps not considered necessities for a baby bath, you may want to keep in mind a few other items you may want to add to your list of baby bath essentials.
- Bath toys can be a good distraction and fun entertainment as your baby is getting used to this new environment.
- A baby bath ring seat tub can be helpful once your baby is able to sit up straight. However, baby bath ring seats have caused a bit of controversy because it may provide a false sense of security. A baby can still tip over or slide under water. While these are meant to be of aid when bathing a baby, they are not a substitute safety device and continuing the practice of having one hand and eye on your baby at all times and NEVER leaving baby alone (even for a second) should be continued.
- A spout or faucet cover is a good idea because as your baby is able to sit up and becomes more mobile, you will want to avoid any bumps that could happen during bath time. This is a wise investment because it can be used as your baby grows and continues to take tub baths, as the fun of a bath is just beginning and can become much more “active” during the next couple of years.
Tip #4: Slowly place baby into water
Once you have prepared your bath area, it is time to get baby undressed and ready for her bath. As you are holding onto her, gently ease her into the water so she is not startled by the feel of the water. Begin to gradually cup your hand full of water as you place baby in the tub and allow it to flow over her body to get used to the feel and the temperature.
Tip #5: Start with just water
Using a mild soap/shampoo is fine, but start the bath by simply washing her off with only water. Too much soap can irritate a baby’s skin and isn’t necessary to use during each bath time. When ready, put a little of your shampoo/soap on a wet washcloth and squeeze remaining water over her body to keep her warm and comfortable. Then use the washcloth to clean areas more prone to getting dirty, such as around her mouth, chin and neck area, as well as the back of the neck and behind the ears. Also, be extra cautious to wash folds of skin and genitals—these areas should get special attention to be sure they are cleaned well, and no dirt or soap residue is left behind.
Tip #6: Small amount of baby shampoo
Especially in the earlier weeks of bathing a baby, only a drop of mild shampoo is necessary to wash your baby’s hair. By putting just a small amount on the head and softly massaging it into the scalp, and pouring a little water over it (lean her head back slightly to avoid getting any suds into her eyes), this will be more than enough to wash your baby’s head/hair.
Tip #7: Wrap and dry baby quickly
Start slow but finish fast. Once your baby is clean, carefully lift her out of the tub and wrap a warm towel around her. Babies can become chilled easily, so have the towel ready and accessible immediately. Pat your baby dry from head to toe. And focus especially in between those folds of skin, ensuring they are dry as well. Then again, wrap her up in the towel.
Tip #8: Prepare diaper and clothing before bath
Gather fresh diaper and clean clothing, and place them nearby just before beginning the bath. Put these on carefully, yet as quickly as possible to keep your baby from getting chilled.
Tip #9: Sooth and calm baby after bath
Depending on the gown or clothing you selected, wrap her up in a soft blanket. Gently hold and rock her in your arms for a few minutes as her body temperature begins to neutralize. This will aid in calming her, and getting ready for bed or for a big day ahead!