Tips for Washing Your Baby
By Elizabeth Danish
This is something that many new parents dread. They are often afraid they will do something to hurt the baby when it comes time for his/her bath. The truth of the matter is washing your baby is quite simply as long as you follow some important safety steps and prepare everything ahead of time. Try to stay calm during bath time and realize that your baby is not a porcelain doll. Parents have been handling their babies since the beginning of time and you will be just fine giving your baby his/her bath. It is important that (provided there are two parents present) both parents participate in the first few baths together. This is a good way to support each other and to make sure that everything goes smoothly. The following tips and suggestions may help make bath time much more enjoyable for Mom, Dad and baby.
Purchase a Baby Bath
When you bath a tiny baby it is much easier if you have a small bathing chair that can easily rest in the sink or bathtub. While it is possible to bath a newborn without one, it is important to keep in mind that wet babies are very slippery. It tends to be a lot easier if they are sitting in a baby bath. Once your baby reaches 4 or 5 months old and can sit up easily on his/her own then you can graduate to a baby bathing ring. These rings have suction cups that help the ring stay in place.
Baby Bath Products
When shopping for products to bathe your baby with always look for items that are labeled hypo-allergenic and tearless. Use only the mildest of soaps and try to stay away from products that are full of fragrance and artificial coloring. The smell of baby products is so pleasing but not all babies will tolerate the chemicals that cause them to smell the way they do. If you must have something that smells nice always perform a spot test on your baby’s skin to be sure no reaction will develop. In the first few weeks though, it would be best to stick with the mildest products possible.
Always Come Prepared
Never attempt to bathe your baby until you are positive that everything you need is right there within your reach. This will eliminate you having to pull a wet and slippery baby out of the tub to go back for whatever it is you have forgotten. Consider buying a small plastic tote with handles to keep all of your baby’s bath products in. This way when you go in to give your baby a bath, all you will need is the baby, the towel and the small tote with the bath products in it.
Your baby’s bath should never be at a temperature which could scald his or her sensitive skin. Remember that what feels nice to you may be too hot for your baby. Test the water with your rest or elbow to be sure that it is just comfortably warm but never hot. At some point in time you will want to child proof your hot water heater and set it for no higher than 120 degrees. Scalding accidents happen often and this is very sad as they could easily be avoided.
Number One Safety Rule
There is no possible way to emphasize enough just how important it is to never, under any circumstance leave your baby unattended in the bath. It does not matter if you just need to step out of the room for 20 seconds, it is too long. If you are ever in a situation that causes you to have to leave the room while you are bathing your baby, pick the baby up and take him/her with you. This could be the difference between life or death for your infant so it is important to take it very seriously. A bay could drown in a teaspoon of water. While we have probably all heard this expression we probably haven’t given it much thought. Even if you think your baby is in a safe baby bath there is no way to tell what may happen. Babies find new ways to surprise us everyday and you would never want to walk back into the bathroom to find that your baby has found a way to wiggle out of his/her bath and go under water.
Ignore the Outside World
When it comes time to bath your baby, forget the doorbell, cell phone, dog and everything else. If you have other children then make arrangements for them to play at the neighbor’s house or make sure someone else is with them when bath time comes along. Distractions can be fatal when you are doing something as important as bathing your baby. Make sure that everyone knows that during bath time you will not be disturbed. In addition, your baby needs these bonding moments with you and he/she needs to be able to associate a nice warm bath as a relaxing experience. You do not want a small accident in which your baby slips under water for a moment to instill a fear of water in him/her. Stay focused on the task at hand and things will go much better for you and your baby.
When babies are quite young it is fine to limit the amount of times you submerge them in water and opt for a sponge bath instead. As babies get older they will begin getting much dirtier but when they are just a couple of months old you will not need to do a full bath “ceremony” every single day. You may be able to get away with cleaning the baby up well a few times a day and bathing every other day. In addition, over bathing can dry your baby’s skin out so make sure you moisturize after each bath.