After you have a new baby, there are a lot of firsts – first feeding, first outing, first haircut. While many of these firsts are exciting, if this is your first baby, some of them can be very scary, too. And one of the firsts you may be more nervous about is giving your baby their first bath.
Your baby’s first bath can be a wonderful experience if you approach it the right way. Read on to discover some tips and answers to make your baby’s first bath a beautiful experience for both you and them.
Benefits of Bathtime for Babies
Bathtime can be about more than getting your baby clean. It can also have a number of benefits for both of you.
Strengthens Your Bond
One of the biggest benefits of bathtime for your baby and for you is that it helps to strengthen your bond. You get time to focus on them and them alone, touching and caring for them without distractions. This physical contact and focused time shows your baby that you love them and helps you become more attuned to their reactions.
As much as possible, take bath time to enjoy being with your baby without pressure to get them to sleep or eat. Look at their beautiful little eyes, play with their tiny fingers and toes, and nuzzle their sweet nose. Tickle their belly, sing them silly songs, and watch them smile, laugh, and make faces at you as they learn and grow.
Provides a Learning Experience
You might be surprised to learn that, in addition to being a wonderful bonding time, bathtime can actually be a great learning experience for your baby. During their first year or two, babies absorb a tremendous amount of information. They have to learn everything about their world, including how they can interact with it.
Bathtime can be a great time to show your baby the wonders of playing in and with water. Trickle some water over their tummy or show them how to make a splash with their hands and feet. You can also name all their body parts as you wash them, getting an early start on developing those language centers.
Soothes Fussy or Sleepy Babies
Bathtime can also have use beyond getting your baby clean and bonding with them. When babies are fussy or tired, it can be difficult to find something that will soothe them. And as you may very well know, taking a bath can be incredibly soothing, especially if your baby has a hard time getting to sleep.
Run a warm bath for your baby when they’re fussy or make it a part of your normal bedtime routine. You might even look up some infant massage techniques to help them relax further, as well as to improve bonding. Keep in mind that, while most babies enjoy baths, not all do, and you should watch for signs that the bath distresses them further.
How to Bathe Your Baby
Bathing your baby may seem scary at first. But with the right technique and practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Prepare the Bath
When you get ready to bathe your baby, start by gathering everything you’ll need. You don’t want to have to scoop up your naked, wet baby halfway through bathtime because you forgot to grab something. Get the following:
- Baby soap and shampoo
- A soft washcloth
- A soft towel
- A plastic basin to bathe them in
- A cup to rinse their hair
- A clean diaper
- Clean clothes
- Diaper ointment or cream
- A partner or friend with a camera to document the occasion
Because babies are so small, they lose body heat very quickly, so you should make sure you keep things warm. Steam up the room by running the shower on hot for a few minutes, and fill your basin with water that’s between 75 and 80 degrees. It should be comfortably warm when you test it with your elbow or wrist, and you should only fill it with enough water to cover the bottom of your baby’s body.
Once your basin is full of warm water, gently slide your baby into the tub, supporting their head on your arm. Use a mild soap only on their hands and diaper area unless the rest of them is visibly dirty. Start with their face, using your soft washcloth to gently wipe around their mouth and chin and behind their ears.
After your baby’s face is clean, turn your attention to their body, cleaning gently with your washcloth. If there’s still a stump from their umbilical cord or they’re healing from a circumcision, be careful around that area, though it is okay to gently wipe away any crustiness there. Finally, shampoo their hair, if they have any, rinse the shampoo off with your cup or a cupped hand.
Dry and Dress
With your baby clean, you’ll be ready to dry them off and dress them again. Gently lift them out of the tub, wrap them in the towel you have nearby, and cuddle them on your lap or lay them on a changing table. Use the towel to pat your baby dry before putting them in a clean diaper and some fresh clothes.
Baby Bath Tips
Bathing your new baby may be intimidating at first, but with practice, you’ll learn to be confident in no time. Make sure you never leave your baby alone in the tub and keep at least one hand on them at all times when they’re in the tub. You can use one hand to support their bottom as you slide them in and out of the tub and keep the other arm wrapped around their back, supporting their head and gripping their underarm farthest from you.
When you’re cleaning your baby’s face, use a clean cotton ball to gently clean around their eyes. After the bath, be sure to focus on drying their bottom and in their folds of skin and precious rolls. And if you plan to use lotions or oils on your baby, use them sparingly, as too much can irritate your baby’s skin.
Prepare for Your Baby’s First Bath
Bathing your baby can be a fantastic way to bond with them and teach them more about their world. Make sure you keep the bath water at the right temperature, and use soap only where necessary. Always keep a hand on your baby while they’re in the tub, and clean and dry them well before you dress them.
If you’d like to discover more tips for your baby’s first bath, check out the rest of our site at The Pediatric Center. We are here to help your kids be awesome and healthy from the very beginning of their life. Schedule a newborn visit and discover the many benefits our state-of-the-art pediatric office offers.