Bathing Your Baby Safely
Bathtimes can be a fantastic experience for your baby. Newborns often find bathtimes soothing, reminding them of being in the womb, while older babies have fun splashing around and playing with bubbles! It's imperative however, that you bathe your baby safely. Never leave your baby unattended, even for a second. Babies can drown without making any noise, and can slide off bath supports. Choose a time for bathing your baby when you are unlikely to be interrupted. If you have to leave the bathroom, end bathtime and take your baby with you.
Make sure the water isn't too hot or too cold. 37 degrees is a good temperature for your baby's bath. Use a thermometer to check the temperature before putting your baby in. It's safest to put the cold water in first, followed by the hot, and never put your baby in while the hot tap is still running, as temperatures change quickly and will feel cooler on your hand than your baby's body. Test the temperature of your baby's bath by dipping your elbow in. It shouldn't feel hot, but comfortably warm.
There are broadly 3 types of ways to bathe your baby: spongebath, baby bath and big bath. You don't need to bathe your newborn everyday. Two or three times a week is enough. Spongebaths are ideal for cleaning your baby on non-bath days. Spongebaths, otherwise known as 'topping and tailing', include washing your baby's hands, face, neck and bottom.
How to Give a Spongebath
Put your baby on a changing mat in a warm room. Have next to you a bowl of warm water (cooled down boiled water if your baby is under 8 weeks old), some cotton wool, some clean clothes, a nappy and a towel. Get these ready before you undress your baby. Then undress your baby down to his vest and nappy and wrap him in a towel. Dip the cotton wool in the water, squeeze out the excess water, and then wipe around each eye, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye to prevent transferring germs. Then use a fresh piece of cotton wool to clean the outside of your baby's ears. Clean your baby's face, neck, hands and bottom in the same way, using fresh pieces of cotton wool each time. Gently pat your baby dry, before putting a fresh nappy and clean clothes on.
Bathing in The Baby Bath and Big Bath
To give your baby a bath in the baby bath or big bath, make sure the room is warm. As with the spongebath, get everything you'll need ready beforehand. Run your baby's bath, mixing the water well so there are no hot patches and checking the temperature carefully before you put your baby in. Add some baby cleanser to the running water, unless your baby has particularly sensitive skin. If your baby's hair needs washing, do this first before putting your baby into the bath to avoid getting germs from his bottom onto his head and face. Lie your baby down on a changing mat to undress him, but leave his nappy on. Hold your baby on your lap, supporting his head over the bath (this works best if you are using a baby bath, or a large bowl to bathe your baby in). Wash your baby's hair with a baby shampoo, and then gently pat it dry. You can then remove your baby's nappy, and put him in the bath, supporting his head and shoulders with one hand and scooping water over his body with the other.
Don't leave your baby in the bath too long or he might get cold. When your baby's bathtime is over, lift him out and gently pat him dry, making sure his bottom is completely dry before putting a nappy on.
If your baby doesn't seem to enjoy baths, you might want to try bathing with him in the big bath. This can be a lovely bonding experience and a good way to calm your baby down during bathtime. Dads often enjoy the bonding experience and skin-to-skin contact of co-bathing with their baby, so encourage your partner to get involved in bathtime. If you take your baby into the big bath with you, do it when someone is with you so they can help get your baby in and out of the bath safely.