Bathing your baby
11372 Dr Fysh - Oct 09, 2018
Bathing your baby can be a fun and relaxing time for both of you, but it can take a while to develop your confidence as you get used to handling a very small child in and around water. As you get more experienced at bathing it can be a welcome part of the winding down routine at the end of the day.
You don’t need to bathe babies every day – although you certainly can if you want to. As long as you are making sure their face, genitals and bottom are clean all the time you only really need to have a bath two or three times a week.
You may find it easier to start by bathing your new-born in the kitchen sink or a small baby bath as bending over a normal bath can be tough on your back and could make you feel less in control of that wriggling bundle of energy.
Little bodies can cool down very quickly so it’s important to make sure your baby is kept warm throughout the process. Make sure the room is warm, too.
Don’t bathe your baby straight after a feed or when they are hungry or tired.
Make sure you have everything you need close by so that you aren’t tempted to nip away from the baby, even for a second. Have a couple of towels, a clean nappy, clean clothes and some cotton wool.
The water should be warm but not hot. Your wrists and elbows are more sensitive to heat so use these to test the temperature. As you add hot or cold water before putting your baby in, make sure you mix it well so there is no variation in temperature.
After you have undressed your baby, lower it gently into the water supporting the head as you do. Use one hand to keep the head above water and use the other to gently move the water around and over your baby.
Don’t add any bath mixture or soaps, especially in the early months, as baby skin is so delicate.
You must never leave your baby in the bath unattended, even to grab a towel or some other ‘urgent’ task. Babies can drown in very shallow water in a matter of seconds. Whatever it is you need, do it after you have taken your baby out of the water. If you have older children bathing at the same time don’t be tempted to leave the baby with them as you answer the phone or the front door. Babies need adult supervision around water at all times.
When you have finished, gently lift your baby out of the water and pat them dry. You will need to gently pat inside the creases of skin on the baby’s arms and legs.
Wrap your baby in a dry towel or blanket and give him a cuddle to keep him warm. This is a good time to give your baby a gentle massage or apply moisturiser if their skin is a little dry.
When your baby is a little older you may find it more relaxing to bath with your baby. If so, get your partner to pass the baby to you once you are in the bath as climbing in with baby in your arms can be dangerous if you slip or lose your balance.
Bathing can be something enjoyable rather than a chore and can give you some lovely cuddly, intimate moments with your child at the end of a difficult day.
About Dr Fysh
Dr Fysh is one of the country’s leading consultant paediatricians, currently a consultant at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians. Having experienced first-hand the suffering caused by serious medical conditions to babies and young children and the emotional and financial strain that this can place on parents on a daily basis. He joined the board of directors as Chief Medical Officer and has been instrumental in the building of the NurtureFirst product.