Taking Care of a New Baby Article

Bathing Your Baby

She may not like bathing at first, and you may find handling a squirming, wet and slippery infant a little unnerving as well. But a little experience goes a long way for both of you, as most babies find their bath soothing, and many new dads report it becomes the highlight of their day.

When your baby discovers the joy of splashing and kicking like a frog (both are apparently instinctual), you may want to get in and join him (you can).

Bath time is great. She will just lay there and smile and watch as you pour the water on her.
- Veteran Dad

For the first couple of weeks, sponge baths are all that are required. You can begin giving your baby a full bath as soon as the stump of the umbilical cord falls off - usually during the second or third week.

If your baby has been circumcised, follow your doctor's instructions about when to begin bathing him. Pre-crawlers only need a bath 1-2 times a week, as long as they are cleaned well during diapering, but many moms' believe otherwise.

Setting the Stage

A small plastic baby tub with a sponge base designed for a baby is your best bet. Fill it with 3 inches of warm (90-95 degrees), not hot water. Keep the room warm if you can.

Any time you plan to do something with your newborn, you want to make sure you are as prepared as a NASCAR pit crew. Everything should be ready and within reach, including:

  • Soft washcloth
  • Baby soap
  • Towel
  • A cup for rinsing him off
  • New diaper
  • Ointment
  • Change of clothing
  • Safety First

Always check the temperature of the water with the back of your hand, wrist or elbow. Your fingers and palm may be callused and you won't feel the temperature accurately. Water should feel slightly warm to the touch.

Make sure you never leave your baby unattended; not even for a second. If you have to leave the room for any reason, bundle him in a towel and take him with you.

Step by Step

Essential steps include:

  • Undress him, dip his feet in the water, and then lay him in the sponge insert. Hold his head up with one hand while you wash with the other. The water should be deep enough to keep him warm, but not so deep that he will start floating and become difficult to hold onto.
  • Using a soft washcloth and a small amount of baby soap, bathe him from the feet up.
  • Dip the washcloth in the warm water repeatedly and let it flow over him to keep him warm.
  • Be careful to not get soap in his eyes; wipe them from the inside out after you squeeze excess soapy water out of the washcloth.
  • Do his scalp last, and using the cup, make sure the water flows off the back of his head and does not get in his eyes.
  • Rinse him off with cups of warm water, then carefully lift your slippery baby out of the tub, bundle him in a towel to dry, and diaper and dress him. Enjoy the moment and then show mom her happy, clean, sweet smelling baby.


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