baby bath basics
Baby basics

Baby bath basics

For you, bathing your new baby may be about much more than just
cleanliness. Giving your baby a bath can be a lovely way to strengthen your attachment to her. Find out how to bath your baby, keep her clean plus other useful tips.

If you are anxious about bathing your baby, you don’t need to put them in the bath until you feel confident. Instead you can ‘top and tail’ them, in other words just wash their face and bottom regularly. If you can cope with kneeling, you might want to do this on a changing mat on the floor, as you won’t need to worry about your baby rolling off as they gets bigger. If not, you can use a special
changing unit.

Topping

Wipe each eye by using a piece of cotton wool dipped in cool, boiled water and gently wipe across your baby’s eye, from the nose outwards. Use a new piece of cotton for each eye.

Wipe the ears with a damp cotton wool pad/ ball but do not clean inside them, and never use cotton buds. Remember to wipe behind the ears as milk often drips there and can become sore if the area is not cleaned and kept dry.

Finally, use fresh pieces of damp cotton wool to wipe your baby’s face, neck creases and hands, ensuring that creases are dry to avoid chaffing from damp skin.

Tailing

Wash your baby’s genitals and bottom, ensuring all creases have been cleaned and patted dry. With baby girls, always wipe from front to back as they are prone to urine infection.

baby bath time basics

There is a white, cream-like substance in baby girls’ vaginas at birth. This is the remains from the vernix (the covering that protected the skin in the womb). Try not to remove it during cleaning as it will eventually be absorbed and act as an excellent barrier cream.

While your son is a baby, his penis will selfclean to some extent. Don’t try to pull back his foreskin to clean. Always use fresh cotton wool balls when cleansing the separate areas to avoid cross infection.

Bathing your baby

When you are more confident, you can wash your baby in the main bath or in their own small baby bath. Bathing your teeny tiny newborn may seem quite an unnerving task for a new parent. The key is preparation.

Bathing can tire newborns out so a bath and feed before bedtime can help them to sleep longer at night. Remember that bathtime will be happier though if your baby is not hungry or too tired. A bath in warm water can also sometimes help to soothe a colicky baby.

  • Bathing essentials
  • Warm water and warm room
  • Ensure there is sufficient warm water for your baby’s bath.
  • From the moment you take them out of the water, your baby will get cold very quickly, so check that the room temperature is comfortable.

Items to have at the ready:

  • Clothes for baby to wear after the
    bath.
  • Nappy changing items.
  • Soft, hooded towel.
  • Soft washcloth or natural sponge.
  • Baby bath wash and shampoo.

Progressing to tub baths:
Once the umbilical cord stump falls off and the area is completely healed, you can start bathing your baby in a bathtub. While not essential, it can be helpful if you have a small baby bath for this stage.

baby bath time basics

Unless there is a nappy disaster or a particularly messy mealtime or playtime that calls for an emergency dip, two or three times a week is a good standard for bathing your baby in the first year of their life.

Preparing your baby for a tub bath:
1. Undress your baby for their bath, but keep their nappy on.

2. Wrapping them in a towel, hold your baby slightly over the bath but don’t immerse them in the water yet.

3. Using the clear, warm bath water, start by cleaning your baby’s face with a warm, moist washcloth or natural sponge.

4. Still wrapped in their towel, you can wash and rinse your baby’s hair from this position too. Massage a small drop of baby shampoo over their entire scalp gently, taking extra care over the area over their fontanelles (soft spots).

5. When rinsing the hair, take extra care to avoid shampoo running into their eyes. If you get shampoo in their eyes, rinse and wipe them with fresh, lukewarm water until all traces of the shampoo are gone, using a clean washcloth or sponge to wipe away the excess water. Your baby will open their eyes again as soon as they are completely clear of the shampoo. Shampooing your baby’s hair once or twice a week is sufficient in the earlier days.

6. Dry your baby’s head and remove their nappy. Chat to your baby throughout bath time to reassure them. Once your baby’s nappy is removed, it’s important to place them in the warm bathwater immediately so they don’t get cold.

7. Supporting their head and neck with one hand and their bottom with the other, gently lower your baby into the water. Using a mild, soap-free baby wash, wash your baby’s body starting from the neck down.

8. As the bath water will be no more than a few inches deep, you will need to continuously pour warm water over your baby’s body to keep them from getting cold.

9. Finally, using a plastic cup or jug, rinse your baby’s body well with plenty of clear water.

More like this:

Baby bath time techniques
Complete guide to nappy changing
How to change a nappy

ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.