beginners guide to bathtime
beginners guide to bath time
Bathing your newborn for the first time can seem like a daunting task, especially with a squirming, wriggly baby who don't forget, is just as new to this as you. Before you get started, it's well worth thinking about how you'll tackle bathtime before you actually do so. Also remember that once you and your baby get the hang of it, bathtime will become one of the baby rituals you'll cherish.
Thankfully, it's not rocket science: Undress, support in warm water, wash, dry, re-clothe. But for a new mum, it's one of the trickiest little juggling acts she's yet had to face.
How do you hold your baby gently yet firmly in one hand and lather soap, open the shampoo or spread a towel with the other? And what do you do if yours is one of those babies who really doesn't enjoy being bathed?
Bathtime can be a wonderful experience that both you and your baby (or Grandma and Grandad) look forward to, with your baby happily splashing in warm water. It can also be a time when he screams angrily and kicks hard, objecting to the feeling of air on his skin, the alien touch of a towel, the strangeness of water, the echo of the bathroom, the smell of soap...
If your baby really doesn't like being bathed then simply don't do it. Just 'top and tail' (see our range of baths). Or try bringing him into your bath with you – you may need your partner to help with this at first. Make sure that the water is cooler than you would normally have it, and undress yourself first, then your baby. Hold him close to you and step into the bath, gradually letting him feel the water on his skin as he lies safely against you with your hands supporting him.
How to bath your newborn baby
- Use liquid soap, it's much easier than chasing a bar of soap around the tub.
- Try to have bathtime when your partner is around – it's much easier if someone else can hand you things. Better still, teach your partner how to do the bath routine – it's great for bonding.
- If the doorbell or phone rings, ignore it, or take your baby with you, wrapped in a towel – never ever leave a baby or child in the bath on its own even for a short amount of time.
Preparation: The key to a calmer bathtime
Choose a quiet time when your baby is neither hungry nor full, unplug the phone, and gather all you need before you begin (this will save you tearing around with a crying baby trying to locate the baby towel or baby shampoo).
Make sure the room is warm, then run the bath 2-3 inches (5-7cm) deep using first cold, then hot water. The ideal temperature is 36-38 °C (96-100 °F) – cooler than your own bath. If you put your elbow in, it shouldn't be so hot you can't keep it there for a few minutes. It may help at first to use a bath thermometer, and eventually you'll get to know the temperature that's just right for your baby just by touch.
Lay the baby on a change mat, and, before undressing him, dip cotton wool into cooled boiled water and wipe his face, behind his ears, and in the folds of his neck (use a new piece for each eye). You needn't wash your baby's hair every time you bathe him, but if you do, it's best to do this when he's still wearing a nappy, before the bath. Wrap him in a towel, hold him over the bath and dampen his head with a little water. Gently massage a drop of baby shampoo into the hair, rinse using a beaker of warm water, then gently towel the hair dry.
Next, undress your baby and, holding firmly but gently, lower him into the bath. Never take your hand off your baby during bathtime in case he slips under the water. When he starts to get more confident in the bath and aware of his surroundings, bath toys are great to make bathtime that little bit more fun.
Swishing water over his skin, singing softly and smiling are all things that will help make your little baby feel calm and happy too. If he seems upset, talk to him, continuously reassuring him that you are going to be there with him the whole time. After a few minutes, lift your baby out of the bath, place him straight on the towel, wrap him warmly and pat dry. Now all you have to do is give him a cuddle!