It’s better to make your baby’s bathing time a team effort, especially for his first few baths. Bathing your baby isn’t a piece of cake, and you will need all the help you can get. Before you get to this task, make sure that you give it your undivided attention and nothing else is awaiting you. Babies are so tiny, yet one pair of hands is not enough to bathe them. 

Your baby’s bath time could be a bonding time for you both, so make sure that you’re in no hurry. Bath time is also a time for touch, which profoundly affects the cognitive and emotional development of your baby. When you rub your baby’s skin while bathing him, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which is connected to different parts of the body. This stimulation slows down your baby’s heart rate, his physiology, and blood pressure, which results in a change in brain waves that lead your baby in the direction of relaxation (Source)

How Often Do You Bathe a Newborn?

Newborn babies don’t need to be bathed as often as older babies, toddlers, or adults. Their sensitive skin can dry out quickly. A baby with an umbilical stump still attached needs nothing more than a sponge bath. You need to be extra careful while bathing your baby to prevent any accidents.

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How to Give Your Baby a Sponge Bath?

  • You can give your baby a sponge bath for the first three weeks because the umbilical stump stays attached for up to three weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents do not submerge the newborn in water until the stump falls off. During that time (approximately three weeks) the best way to bathe the baby is a sponge bath.

Your newborn doesn’t need a bath every day during his first week. Too much bathing may lead his skin to dry out or cause other skin conditions. The areas that need cleaning very often, such as the face, neck, and diaper area, can be cleaned using damp burp cloths, baby wipes, and the use of clean diapers. Your baby doesn’t need a bath more than a few times a week.

It is recommended to see a pediatrician if the umbilical stump doesn’t fall off after three weeks. 

  • Before you give your baby a bath, you will need a number of supplies readily on hand.
  • Find a flat surface where the temperature is warm enough for the baby.
  • Make sure that you have a changing pad or a soft towel for the baby to lie on during his bath.
  • You will need a plastic basin or a sink to hold the water during the bath.
  • You may need a washcloth, baby soap, cotton pads, and baby wipes to bathe the baby.
  • Now that everything is ready, you can begin bathing your baby. 
    • Make sure that one hand stays on your baby all the time to control his movements and prevent him from hurting himself.
    • Now, undress your baby and wrap a towel around him. Put him down on a changing pad or a blanket, on his back. 
    • Soak a towel and start from his face. Don’t use soap while cleaning the face. Gently rub the wet towel on your baby’s face to cleanse it thoroughly. You can use a damp cotton ball or a clean cloth to wipe the eyelids gently. Move the cloth from the inside to the outside.
    • If your baby is dirty or smells stinky, you can use baby-safe soap otherwise plain water is enough to bathe the rest of your baby’s body. Carefully wash creases, underarms, clean his ears, as well as rub the wipes between the fingers and toes for a thorough cleansing. 
    • Only expose the areas that you are currently cleaning or washing to keep your baby warm.

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How to Give Your Baby a Bath in a Tub or Sink?

  • First of all, you need to make sure that your baby’s umbilical stump has fallen off, and only then you can bathe your newborn baby in a tub or a sink. Choose the tub that you think isn’t too deep and is safe for your baby. You can purchase free-standing plastic tubs that are specifically made for bathing newborn babies. You can also get an inflatable tub that you think would fit into a bathtub or a sink. If you are using the bathtub or the sink, make sure to line it with a rubber mat to prevent slipping.

Now, fill the tub with warm water up to two to three inches. Keep your one hand constantly on your baby.

  • Hold your baby in a way that doesn’t make him uncomfortable yet keeps him safe and doesn’t let him move around too much. Support his head and torso with your one arm. Use the other arm to wash him thoroughly. When you are washing his back, shift the baby in a way that he is leaning forward on your arm. 
  • Undress your baby before putting him in the bathtub. Clean his face and eyes just like you would do during a sponge bath, without any soap. When you are done doing that, remove your baby’s diaper. Clean that area gently before putting him in the water. Always do it feet first when you lower your baby into the water.
  • Now, use a damp cloth, a sponge, or even your hand to clean your baby’s body. You can use a baby-safe soap if your baby is producing any smell. If your baby has dry skin, use a moisturizing cleanser instead of soap.
  • You can gently pour water down on your baby during the bath to prevent him from getting cold. 
  • Washing your baby’s head isn’t necessary unless his hair looks dirty or you notice a common condition called cradle cap that produces scaly patches on the scalp. Rinse the hair under a faucet or wash with a washcloth. A soft-bristle infant hairbrush can help to gently remove cradle cap while washing. Always cover your baby’s eyes by cupping your hand over his forehead to prevent soap from getting into his eyes if tear-free formulas aren’t available.

When you are done bathing your baby, carefully remove him from the tub, and immediately wrap him in a towel to keep him warm. After that, gently pat him dry before dressing him up in clean clothes. 

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Skincare for Your Newborn After Each Bath

Your baby’s sensitive soft skin needs special care. It is a good idea to use products that are specially made for babies, or you can also ask for your baby’s healthcare provider for any recommendations. Skincare products for adults can be harsh for your baby’s gentle skin, and they sometimes contain allergens or irritants.

 Your baby doesn’t need lotion unless you notice dryness on his skin. Powders should be avoided as well unless they are recommended by your baby’s doctor. Before using any powder on your baby’s skin, put it on your hands first, and then apply it on the baby’s skin. Shaking the powder into the air can harm your baby’s lungs.

If you notice any rash on your baby’s skin, you need to consult the doctor immediately. It can be a sign of an infection. Diaper rashes irritate the baby and need to be treated with care. 

Laundry detergents can also cause irritation to your baby’s skin. In this case, you need to start using baby-safe detergents for your baby’s laundry and rinse the laundry with plain water thoroughly to remove any leftover detergent. 

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Benefits of a Healthy Bathing Time

A healthy bathing time offers several benefits. As much as it is essential for his health and cleanliness, it also gives you some time to have fun with your little one.

1. Staying Healthy

Bathing is one of the most important practices that you need to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Bathing your baby protects his skin. You need to treat your baby’s skin with care and use only baby-safe products. During bath time, you can check your baby’s skin for rashes, any other skin conditions or infections.

When you massage your baby’s arms and legs while cleaning, it improves circulation in his extremities. If you notice flaky and scaly patches on your baby’s scalp and eyebrows, you can cure this skin condition (known as cradle cap) by regularly shampooing him. This condition is caused due to the excess work of sweat glands. It is always best to use a gentle baby shampoo that won’t hurt your baby’s eyes.

2. Emotional Benefits

At first, it might seem a little hard to bathe your baby using only two hands, but worry not; it gets better with practice. As you get better at bathing your baby, you’ll notice how comforting and relaxing bathing time will become to him. Bathing your baby, among many other reasons, is also about the importance of skin contact and touch. It improves eye contact and provides a medium for positive interaction between a parent and the baby. As you gently wrap him in a soft towel after his bath, it will give him a sense of warmth and security. 

3. Playtime

Splashing water is one of the most enjoyable things about a bath for older babies. Playing with water bubbles and toys help your baby improve hand-eye coordination. Your baby’s bathing time will be an enjoyable bonding time between you and your little one that comes with several other benefits. 

Bathing time is a perfect time for you and your little one to connect. Do it carefully and make it fun.

Read Our Guide on Best Baby Bathtubs

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