Bathing the Baby
Can I tell you a secret? Babies generally enjoy baths! They truly do. They have spent 9 months of their lives immersed in warm gooey waters. So a bath feels like a familiar place. There are different forms of bathing that may soothe your baby more than another. Depending on the age and stage that the baby is one method may be preferred over another.
Methods to Bathing the Baby
Sponge bathing is utilizing a wet washcloth, sponge, hand, or other soft apparatus to cleanse the baby. The baby is not immersed in water but instead is mainly dry and only wet upon contact with the cloth. This method is often used for NICU babies, premie babies, while an umbilical cord is awaiting to heal, and when a circumcision has been done.
Submersion baths are the most familiar and common of bathing the baby. This is safely immersing the body of the baby in a basin of water. While this form of bathing can be done at any age, many find that waiting until the umbilical cord has healed to indulge. As the baby ages, bathtime becomes more enjoyable with splishes and splashes of appendages in the water. Often followed by coos and laughter.
Co-bathing is a great way to bond with a baby. Co-bathing is enjoying the soak alongside the baby. This can be done at any age and with the proper precaution to entering and exiting the basin, can be quite enjoyable for both parties. Keeping the water comfortable enough for the baby’s delicate skin, avoiding soaps and chemicals, and partaking only the pureness of the water.
Precautions to When Bathing the Baby
Drowning can happen in any amount of water 1 inch or more and can occur in a blink of an eye. Decide on the space to bathe the baby. In the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the laundry/mud room. Find a place that has ample space for movement. Counterheight is great because it prevents from having to bend over with a slippery wee baby.
The bathroom is great place due to the space, the “white noise” of the fan, and the ability to make the room warm and cozy. Especially if bedtime is the next step. The kitchen is a great space for getting the day started. The brightness of the atmosphere and the noises of the home.
Once the decision has been made as to where to bathe the baby, gather all of the necessary items. Baby wash, washcloths, towels, cups, toys, etc. We never want to leave baby unattended, and having these items makes it easier to maintain an eye on baby and grab what’s needed.
The temperature of the water is another important element of the bath. There are fancy baby tubs that have thermometers embedded in them. There are cute ducks that have a “HOT” that appear when the water is too hot. There’s even the good ole’ arm and elbow method to testing the warmth of the water. What to know, is that as the baby sits in the water, the water will cool. Keeping the temperature between 96 and 99 is a good measure for warmth. Remember, every baby is different and different bodies prefer different temperatures. Listen to the baby for their preference.
What to Gather
Gathering the necessary items to implement bathtime ahead of time, saves time as well as promotes safety during bathtime. This isn’t a blog to tell you what brand to use or purchase instead, this will help decide what types of products are out there. Scanning the baby aisles you will see brands upon brands upon brands of baby bath products. Let’s discuss…
Baby wash can be as simple as using water only. Baby’s are not “dirty”, although spit-up, lint, and sweat can build up in the crevices of their arms, legs, fingers, necks, and more. Choosing the “right” baby wash depends on what you decide is best for your family. Use samples from the birthing facility, items from the baby shower, or brands that you are used to seeing growing up. Nowadays, clean companies (like Pipette) have emerged and have simple products with simple elements. Watch for skin irritants and reactions on baby, and switch products if occur.
Washcloths, sponges, hands, and baby latherers are next up! How are you going to rub-a-dub-dub? Here’s a trick…no matter what you use to lather up the baby, place a warm washcloth over the baby’s midsection. This will keep the baby warm while bathing. Periodically, dip the washcloth into the basin of water and replace the baby.
Hooded baby towels are cute and comfortable and come in an array of sizes and fabrics. Placing an extra towel on the chest of the individual bathing the baby, then placing the baby on the chest of the individual, and then putting the hooded baby towel over the baby is a convenient way to utilize the towel.
In these early days and weeks, think about forgoing the scented this and that. The baby’s skin is delicate and doesn’t need much else. Natural elements such as coconut or olive oils can be used to hydrate skin. Place on hands and massage baby. This can also promote healthy lymphatic and blood flow, and soothe a baby for relax time. Plus physical touch is a way to transfer positive energies.
Splish Splash, Enjoy the Bath
Bath time can be just as fun and relaxing for you as it is for the baby. Participating in ‘baby’s first bath is one of our favorite support to give as postpartum and infant care doulas. Baths are reminiscent of being in the womb. Bath time gives a form of routine. Water is a soothing element. Splish splash, enjoy that bath!