When To Give The First Bath To Your Newborn?
After birth, the midwife or nurse wipes the baby clean and dries them using a towel. If they have a cheese-like white substance on their skin – vernix caseosa, the midwife leaves it as it is. It protects your baby’s skin when they are in the womb, and washes off with their first bath. If you want you can bathe them two hours after birth, provided they are full-term, healthy, with normal body temperature, and the room is warm. However, since your baby needs to stay warm, the first bath usually follows some time after you get home with your baby.
How Often To Give Them A Bath?
Your baby will need a bath only twice or thrice a week. Don’t dunk them in the water until the umbilical cord or circumcision heals. Stick to sponge baths. A daily bath isn’t necessarily needed – too much of it can dry the baby’s skin.
Basics Of Bathing Your Baby
Your baby’s first bath will be more of a sponge dab. Here is the step-by-step guide to bathing your newborn.
1. Collect All The Prerequisites
Choose a warm room for their first bath. Babies easily loose their warmth and get chills. Opt for a flat surface like a bathroom, a wide table or a bed. Here are things you should gather beforehand.
- Baby sponge or clean washcloth
- Clean towel or blanket, probably with a hood
- Clean clothes
- Clean diaper
- Vaseline and gauze if your baby is circumcised
- Warm, not hot water
- A camera because you won’t want to miss the firsts of your baby.
2. Where To Begin
First, undress the baby, but keep the diaper on – wash that area towards the end. Hold them gently with your hand, supporting their head and neck. Dip and dry the bath sponge or wash cloth in warm water, and clean one area at a time. Start from behind the ears, to the neck, elbows and then knees. Don’t forget the tiny toes and fingers. Look for the areas under the arm and around the neck, where the creases require cleaning.
3. Focus On The Face
Use warm water to dip and dry the washcloth edge. Wipe your baby’s eyes from the inner corner outwards. Use a different edge of the cloth or a cotton ball to clean the other eye. Clean those chubby cheeks followed by the skin around the mouth, and under the chin, where they usually drool. It is okay to use mild soap on your baby’s face if you feel the need. Remember not to clean their ears with cotton swabs. Cleaning the head comes towards the end. Even if your baby doesn’t have much hair, you can gently sponge the wisps. To prevent the water from getting into their eyes, dip the head slightly. No shampooing needed, only water will do.
4. Be Gentle On The Genitals
Remove the diaper, and use the washcloth to wipe your baby’s little torso. Be careful around the umbilical cord, if the stump is still there. Wash your baby girl from front to back, don’t worry about the vaginal discharge – no need to clean it all away. For circumcised boys, don’t wash the head of the penis until it is completely healed. Otherwise, a gentle wipe would do – no need to pull back the foreskin. To turn the baby, keep your hand under her arm, and pull them up with the palm. Now you can sparingly use the soap if required, else sponge-clean the back. Next, clean your baby’s tiny tush – be sure to use soap for this part.
5. The After-Bath
Don’t rub your baby dry, instead pat them gently with the clean towel. Generally, they don’t need any lotions, oils or creams. If your health expert has recommended any, massage the lotion into their skin and warm it with your slow rub. Put on the diapers and clothes. Wrap them in a blanket, and your baby is fresh and ready for a cuddle.
Benefits Of Bath Time
Bathing is not just about getting your baby clean. It is a time for the parents to bond with their newborn. Cooing, singing, kissing, and saying things lovingly (even if they don’t understand you), will definitely make them feel loved. Your baby might even enjoy the bath time and the massage after the bath. A warm bath in a warm room makes the baby feel comfortable, and cozier, which induces sleep. Schedule their bath time according to their sleeping routine to see them happily drifting away in dreams. Capture these moments closely, and make these first moments priceless for both you and your baby.
Note: Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a second. Also, ensure that the water is warm and not hot. Test the temperature with your elbow or inside of the wrist.