Giving your baby a bath can be a special time of bonding, and many parents come to truly love this time spent with their baby. Some babies love the sensation of bathing, while others may become scared or will scream and cry. Either way it’s important to follow important guidelines so bathing will become a positive experience for your baby.
Doula Andra Clark explains the very first bath for a baby should occur after the umbilical cord has fallen off. The water should be comfortable and warm when tested, but never hot, and not too cold that the baby will become chilled. A tip to keep the baby from getting cold is to place a warm washcloth over their belly while you continue to bath and wipe them clean.
Your baby’s skin is very soft so special baby soaps and shampoos should be used to avoid irritating their skin. Natural and unscented soaps are also an option for baby skin, and hypoallergenic soaps also work well. According to parent educator Sarah McCormick, water is generally enough to clean a baby, although mild soaps should be used, they do not need to be used on a daily basis. Baby baths should be limited to between 5 and 10 minutes, and should include gentle washing of the areas of the armpits, groin, and any other dirty areas. After a bath is a great time to do other grooming, including clipping nails and brushing the baby’s hair.
When caring for a baby’s skin, it’s important to know that bumpy skin, blemishes and dry patches are usually very normal. Parents who want to treat dry skin can begin by bathing the baby two to three times per week with a mild hypoallergenic soap. After bathing, pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altman suggests applying a clear ointment like petroleum jelly or aquaphor in small amounts on the dry areas. She also notes that dry skin does not generally bother the baby, so it is perfectly fine to leave these areas alone to be resolved on their own time.
Caring for a baby’s hygiene can be slightly intimidating at first, but it’s important for parents to remember that the process will get easier with time. Bath time is a special time for parents to treat the baby with love and care. Putting safety first and using calm and gentle movements allow the baby to experience a pleasant bath time.