Bathing a baby can be daunting for some new mums. Follow our step-by-step guide of baby bath time techniques that will help take the fear out of bathing your baby.
Asides from keeping your baby clean, bathing your baby can be a great bonding experience between you and your child.
However, for first time parents, bathing your delicate newborn can seem like a scary experience. This is why some parents choose to bathe their baby without using a bath for the first few weeks. This is called ‘top and tailing’.
How to top and tail
This method entails washing your baby from head to toe with a warm sponge or else pieces of cotton wool.
When bathing your baby this way, always make sure the room you are doing it in is set to a warm temperature. Have a clean nappy, clothes, and any baby cleanser or nappy cream that you may be using beside you.
1. Fill a bowl or sink with warm water and place your baby on a clean towel near the water so you are ready to dry them quickly after you have bathed them.
2. Start by dipping a piece of cotton wool into the warm water and squeezing it out. Use this to gently wipe your baby’s eyes. Use a clean piece for each eye.
3. Take another clean piece of damp cotton wool and clean around your baby’s ears. However, do not clean inside your baby’s ears as this could damage their eardrum.
4. Using a fresh piece of cotton wool each time, wipe your baby’s face, neck and hands. Do not scrub off any of the white vernix that may be left on your baby’s skin as this is their natural cleanser and is very good for their skin. It will come off naturally in time.
5. Then take special care to clean your baby’s bottom. This must also be done after every nappy change. Use a barrier cream to lock moisture in.
6. After washing your baby, gently pat them dry with the clean towel. Make sure that there is no dampness left in any creases on their body. If your baby has dry skin, apply a light layer of mild moisturiser or emollient to their skin. Wrap your baby in their towel and give them a cuddle!
Using a tub
Whether you are transitioning from top and tailing to putting your baby in a tub, or going for the tub from the get-go, the same routine applies.
To bathe your newborn baby, it is recommended that you use small plastic baby bath. It is not advised to use a normal bathtub as holding your baby with your arms stretched over the sides of the bathtub may make holding them safely more difficult.
Fill the bath with just a few inches of warm water. Never fill the bath more than waist-high (in a sitting position) for older babies and children.
Do not put your baby into a bath when the water is still running. The depth could rise too high very quickly.
The ideal temperature is around 37º-38ºC, 36ºC for a newborn. Some parents find it useful to use a bath thermometer to get the temperature just right.
Make sure there are no hot spots in the water by swirling it around with your hand.
1. Always keep one arm supporting your baby’s back, head, and neck. Keep it there when you are putting your baby into the bath and while you are bathing them. Use your other arm to wash them gently.
2. The process of bathing your baby in the tub is very similar to topping and tailing. Repeat the whole process of top and tailing, paying particular attention to the ears and creases in the neck.
3. Take care when you are lifting your baby out of the bath. Wrap both your hands around your baby’s chest under their arms. Be careful to ensure your baby’s head is also supported. When you have lifted your baby out of the bath, wrap them quickly in a clean, dry towel. Gently dry them off and smooth on a mild moisturising lotion, oil or emollient if their skin is dry.
Use a bath thermometer for checking the water is right. I use the Clevamama towel, which gives you two free hands for lifting the baby. Make sure the room, towels and clean clothes are nice and warm. Have a bottle ready or breastfeed the baby afterwards. Babies love lots of cuddles after a bath too.
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