Baby bathing is meant to be one of those wonderful moments of unadulterated joy for new parents, but instead the task can seem daunting – if only because your baby seems so vulnerable stripped naked and so impossibly hard to manoeuvre into the water.
So follow our simple steps and you’ll be a bathing pro before you know it.
- You don’t have to bath your baby everyday – but if she likes bathing, go ahead.
- Many newborns don’t like being bathed because they don’t enjoy being naked. If your baby doesn’t like baths, ‘top and tail’ her on alternate days – use cotton wool and warm water for eyes and face, and a washcloth for hands and bottom. You can top and tail in sections so that you only need to undress the area that you are washing.
- Don’t add bubble bath to the bath as this may dry her skin. Look for gentle pH-neutral cleansers or mild soaps and lotions designed especially for babies.
- Your baby’s skin easily dries out, so use sorbolene and another aqueous cream regularly to protect it.
- You don’t need to shampoo your newborn’s hair.
- Some babies find a bath relaxing, so you may want to incorporate bath time into your evening routine so that she’s relaxed and ready for bed.
- By about 3 months, any reservations your baby had about bath time will be long gone – by this age, she’ll find it very enjoyable.
Preparing a bath:
- Choose a room that is warm and clean to bathe your baby.
- Position the baby bath somewhere that is stable and is at a comfortable height.
- Make sure that you have everything that you will need before you start. All washing equipment should be within your reach.
- Have a clean nappy and clothes nearby so you can quickly dry and dress your baby after the bath.
- Put a clean cloth nappy in the bottom of the baby bath to make it less slippery.
- Don’t overfill the bath – while you’re getting used to bathing your baby, just fill the bath about 5cm, so that the arm you are using to support your baby can rest comfortably on the bottom of the bath.
- The water temperature should be about 36C. You can test this on the inside of your wrist but if you feel uncertain, you can buy a bath thermometer.
- Gradually slip your baby into the bath, using one hand to support his neck and head.
- Consider filling (and emptying) the bath using jugs if you have put the bath on a table out of reach of a tap – this will save your back from having to carry a heavy bath.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot – New Zealand’s parenting resource for newborns and baby. Sources include Raising Children Network.