Parenting: Bathing Your Newborn

In this episode we talk about tips for bathing your newborn. How often should you do it? How long should baths be? What to have on hand, what to avoid, and more!

Episode Transcript

Hello, this is Bev Garrison with First Breaths to First Steps today, we’re going to talk about NEWBORN BATHING. You would think it’d be super easy. You’ve been bathing yourself or dogs or whatnot all your life, but sometimes when you get your newborn home, it’s a little bit different story. So today, hopefully I’m going to give you some quick tips and tricks to make bath time fun and efficient and easy.

We’re going to run through some quick benefits of bathing, timing of bathing, talk about frequency as well as supplies. And then just a quick how to I will finish up with some safety items do’s and don’ts and go from there and set you up for bathing success so let’s get started

With my three sons, bathing could be definitely chaotic, but I always seem to love bathing them. I think it helped to calm them down and set us up for a good routine. I think my husband would definitely beg to differ. He would say, “Oh my gosh, every time I get those kids up and dressed and in the bathroom. They are peeing all over each other, the bathroom’s a mess,I don’t have everything. But. I think that bathing is great from the standpoint of bonding.

Besides obvious hygiene, definitely you can have a learning experience. You could be naming parts of the body as youre rinsing and cleaning. Water also gives a good sensory part of development for kids and can help to sooth fussy babies. Can also definitely be part of a routine. I always liked to do bathing before bedtime, because it can be helpful to kind of bring everyone into a more calmer mood. Sometimes you’ll have some pediatricians and primary care providers that will also advise to bathe the kids when they’re with a fever, it can help to bring down that fever. We do recommend that you don’t run the bath cooler than normal. Sometimes we used to have parents or grandparents that would advise a much cooler bath, but a lot of times that makes kids shake or shiver and that’s muscle working out and typically makes fever go up. So if you’re going to do bathing from a fever standpoint to help with that run the water, the normal temperature, and you should be good to go.

As far as newborns and timing, when should we bath. You want to wait until the umbilical cord is off and that the circumcision has healed, if it’s a male child, that’s been circumcised. You want to keep them brief and gentle, just so that the kids aren’t getting too cold in the water. Definitely not more than two to three times a week. You don’t want to over dry newborn skin and increasing frequency as they get older, maybe more beneficial just because they get more dirty. But initially newborn babies really shouldn’t need to be bathed more than two to three times a week.

So what sorts of supplies do you need? Definitely hooded towel. I love that. The head portion – it’s nice to keep on their head because you’re trying to keep them warm and we lose a lot of heat from our head. So that type of towel, you can keep that on their head while you’re drying off other parts of their body.

Gentle shampoo and cleanser. I recommend anything that is scent free or dye-free or both is even better. I think newborn skin initially can be very sensitive. And so sometimes harsher products can cause some irritation at the skin.

The other supply item that you would want to have is a hard plastic tub, after 2017, at least in the United States, all of those infant tub s were made at a correct slope. Just so that you can keep your infant upright and it can kind of help you to position them in the water. You can just use the sink and, or even a bowl. You just want to make sure that your hands on it right there.

Before you even get supplies, I would recommend that someone in your family check the hot water heater. You want to make sure that it’s set at 120 degrees or less. If hot water is set this way, you, but most importantly, your infant would sustain a much less severe burn if hot water was to surge.

So there are two different common types of baths that are usually discussed. One is sponge bathing where they’re not submerged in water and the other is what you think of

Typical bathing where the infant is placed in water. When you’re going to sponge bathe, it’s typically early on in the newborn period when babies are fresh home from the hospital and umbilical cords are still in place and circumcisions on male children are healing.

So when you’re going to spend base, we get the baby completely undressed. Rap in that hooded towel where the hood is covering the head to help keep them warm. And then, unwrap and bathe one body part at a time. Just to kind of keep them warm. You can dilute that soap /gentle cleanser in warm water, mix in a separate bowl and dip a soft cloth in that solution and then wipe down with that warm, soapy mixture. You can also rinse that cloth and then wipe with just water. The biggest thing about bathing, whether it’s a sponge bath or a regular bath, is to get everything, all your supplies :shampoo, soap, towel, cup to rinse, lotion for after, fresh diaper instead of clothes -ready before time.

If you’re using an infant tub or the sink. You just want to fill it with three to four inches of warm water. I recommend before you place the baby in the water to test it at the elbow or with a temperature checker. There, some floating devices like rubber duckies that will change colors to let you know that the temperature of that water is not too hot. The American Academy of pediatrics recommends that you set that hot water heater, but you always want to make sure and check the water before you place an infant or child into the tub.

HANDS ON SUPERVISION for sure! Keep the room warm, but make sure that you have absolutely no reason that you would need to leave.

With newborn babies, it sounds silly, but you do want to make sure that they’re positioned properly in the tub. Usually I recommend supporting the head with the non-dominant hand. So that you can easily wash with the dominant hand with that soap and water. Usually starting from head to toe rinsing during that process as you’re going along and also that helps to keep your baby warm.

If your baby has hair, one to two drops of shampoo at a wet scalp. I would gently massage with the washcloth that can help to prevent any sort of buildup at the scalp or cradle cap. And then rinse with warm water. To avoid soap in the eyes, cradle the head with the non-dominant hand and gently pour over the scalp with the other hand cupped to pour the water of the scalp and wipe away this shampoo at the same time. Continue until you were suds free. You want to make sure you’re not leaving any residue for later irritation. Sometimes people will also use a brush while shampooing, this can definitely help with any sort of plaque buildup or cradle cap. It helps to stimulate the scalp with those bristles.

After you’re done with the bath, you’ve completely rinsed with clean water. Lay down on a towel in gently dry. I like to quickly apply lotion that scent free and, or dye-free from head to toe. That type of massage, I feel like always helped relax my babies. But also, especially we live in Colorado and it’s very dry here, helps to keep that skin nice and moist

So let’s recap bathing. Definitely making sure that initially as newborns, that you’re not beating too frequently, two to three times a week is fine. Make sure you have all your : hooded towel, shampoo, cleanser, scent free lotion, hard plastic tub, if you’re using one, and some way to check water temperature already beforehand. You want to make sure everything is within arm’s reach so that you’re never having to leave your baby alone.

So ready set, go. You’re now ready to have a successful bathing experience with your newborn and kids. Until next time be well.

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