Baby Basics: A Guide to Giving Your Baby a Bath for the Very First Time
Bathing your bundle of joy is one of the most rewarding things you will do as a parent. Not only does it help clean their little body, it's also a great bonding opportunity and it helps soothe them to sleep. Many parents worry about getting the water temperature right and keeping their baby safe, which is why we've put together this guide to show you how to give your baby a bath for the very first time.
Why Bath Time is Important
Giving your baby a bath is one of the most enjoyable ways to bond with your child. Bathing is one way for parents to spend time with their baby, bond with them and help them relax before bedtime. If the promise of a better night’s sleep wasn’t enough to make parents fall in love with bath time, studies have also shown that bathing is central to newborn babies’ cognitive development and builds fine motor skills.
When to Start Bathing Your Newborn
There’s no need to rush your baby’s first bath; in fact, the World Health Organisation recommends waiting for at least 24 hours after birth. Remember that babies don’t sweat like adults do and their skin is much more delicate, so you won’t need to start using baby soap or shampoo until your baby is at least 4-6 weeks old. Even then, it’s best to only use a very small amount.
For the first week or so it’s a good idea to wash your baby using the top and tailing technique rather than submerging them in water. This means washing your baby’s face, neck, hands and bottom using a sponge or cloth and plain warm water. Once your baby’s belly button has healed, you can begin bathing them properly.
The right time of day to bathe your newborn depends on you and your schedule, but many parents use bath time as part of a good sleep routine for their bundle of joy.
How Often to Bathe Your Newborn
Your new baby won’t need a bath every single day. Each child is different, but 1-3 times per week is the ideal frequency for most babies. Bathing your baby less than once a week could result in rashes, whilst bathing them too often can dry out their delicate skin.
Once your baby reaches the crawling stage, you will probably find yourself needing to bathe them much more often as they’re bound to make a mess as they explore their surroundings.
Bath Time Essentials
Baby Bath - You will need a baby bath tub to wash your little one. Some parents prefer a tub that can fit inside their bath or shower so that they can kneel next to it, like this one from Cheeky Rascals. However, if you suffer from back or knee problems it’s a good idea to opt for a standalone baby tub. This is also a good choice if you’re short on bathroom space!
Pictured: Shnuggle Baby Baths £25.95
Thermometer - It’s important to get the temperature of your baby’s bath right. If the bath is too hot, you risk overheating your child or scalding their delicate skin. However, the water shouldn’t be too cold either because babies are unable to regulate their body temperatures properly. Understandably, water temperature is the source of many parental anxieties around bath time which is why we recommend a baby thermometer. This means that you can easily make sure your little one’s bathwater is at an optimum 37 degrees.
A Bath Brush - You can use a baby brush to gently massage and shampoo your baby's head. This helps with parent-child bonding and gets your baby nice and relaxed before bedtime. Baby brushes have special soft bristles for your little one's delicate skin and hair, and help to relieve eczema, dry skin and cradle cap.
Flannels and Sponges - You will need some soft flannels and sponges to wash your baby’s delicate skin. Placing a warm wet flannel over your little one’s tummy during bath time can stop their exposed skin from getting cold.
How to Wash Your Baby
At first, your baby may cry during their bath because they are not used to being submerged in water. However, they will quickly get used to their bath time ritual and have lots of fun splashing around. Once you’ve got all of your bath time essentials together, here’s how to wash your new baby:
1) Start by washing your little one’s face. This will help avoid any surprise or discomfort and ease them into their new bath time routine. Dip a cotton ball or in water and wipe around each eye, starting from the inner corner. Use a fresh ball for each eye and another for their nose. Don’t use soap when washing your baby’s face because there is no need for it and it can irritate their sensitive skin.
2) Use another damp cotton ball to clean the outside of your baby’s ears.
3) Remove your baby’s clothes and place them in the bath, supporting them with your forearm. Speak to your little one in a soothing voice or sing to them to help them relax while you gently splash water over their body. Use a damp cloth to wipe down their neck and scalp before moving on to washing between folds of skin. Then, gently turn them over onto their tummy with their head turned to one side and repeat.
4) Lift your baby out of the bath and gently dry them off with a towel. Then, wrap it around them securely so they don't shiver from being cold or exposed for too long.
5) You may also want to apply baby lotion if your little one has dry skin or eczema.
If your baby has cradle cap, you can leave baby oil or petroleum jelly on their hair overnight and then use a mild, unscented baby shampoo to gently remove the flakes with a baby brush in the morning. However, you should never use adult shampoo, olive oil or peanut oil on your baby’s skin.
Don’t add any bubbles or cleansers to the water. There will be plenty of time for cute, bubble bath moments when your child is a little older and their skin becomes less sensitive.
Finally, never leave your baby alone in the water or take your eyes off of them for a second. Even in an emergency, you must lift your baby out of the bath, wrap them in a towel and take them with you, and make sure you have everything you need with you at the bath ahead of time.
Finally, remember to relax and enjoy bath time with your bundle of joy. Don’t be too hard on yourself - remember that it’s perfectly normal for your baby to kick up a fuss during their first experience. Ultimately, the process will be special no matter what and the main thing is that your child stays safe and healthy throughout.
Here at Unique Baby Store, we’re here to support you for all of your newborn needs, from bath time essentials to clothes and accessories. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us here and we’d be glad to help you on your journey to parenthood.