Let’s face it, even though becoming a mum is amazing, it’s also pretty terrifying. When I first brought Baby Boo home from hospital I was scared stiff of just about everything. Seriously. Things that seem simple now, like swaddling or offering her a pacifier induced a stomach churning sensation inside me, a bit like when you’re on a fairground ride, but nowhere near as fun. The thing that frightened me the most was bath time. How should I hold her? How should I wash her? How deep should the tub be? How warm should the water be? I became so stricken by a sudden awareness of possible bath-related catastrophes that she was a whole two-weeks-old before I even dared to take the plunge (so to speak). The first few times were horrendous and I’m sure a few grey hairs appeared as I contorted myself over the tub, trying (and failing) to find a comfortable position for us both. Then it got easier and eventually it was fine. Now bath time is one of my favourite nightly rituals. However, I still wish I’d had more guidance in those early days. It would certainly have saved me a bit of stress. With this in mind, I’ve called on the expertise of childcare expert and author Rachel Waddilove. This is her step-by-step guide to bathing a newborn.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #1: Don’t stress
Obviously from a cleanliness perspective babies don’t get too dirty so in the early days you don’t need to exhaust yourself by bathing them daily. Instead you can top and tail them once a day, which is when you wash their hands, feet and bottom with a cloth or cotton wool and water. That said, if you do want to bath them daily there is no problem with this either and it can be helpful in terms of getting baby into a routine.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #2: Sink or bath?
If you have a baby bath, the easiest place to do it is in the bathroom as you have access to water. If you don’t have a baby bath a newborn baby can easily be bathed in a basin or skin, but just be careful that you don’t have a hot tap dripping on baby. You can also use the big bath.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #3: Prepare the space
Get everything ready beforehand and have it all within reach, as this makes the whole process so much easier. You will need a hooded towel, cotton wool, a little flannel, a sponge (optional) clothes to dress her in afterwards, a nappy and any creams that you use after the bath.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #4: Get temperature right
The bath temperature should be between 36 and 38 degrees and you can use a thermometer to gauge this. It’s very important to have a nice warm bath because babies lose heat quickly.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #5: Fill the bath
Make sure the water is deep enough so that it covers her legs and bottom as this also helps to keep her warm. If you feel confident holding your baby in the bath it can be deeper.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #6: Lower baby in gently
Hold baby securely, using both your hands to support her, then lower her into the bath feet first. Support her with one arm under her head and slip your hand under her arm in order to steady her. Use your free hand to wash her.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #7: Go easy on the soap
A little baby wash on baby’s skin is perfectly okay, as long as she doesn’t have eczema or any other skin condition. That said, it’s not necessary to use soap every day as you do run the risk of drying the skin out.
Simple steps for bathing a newborn #8: Wrap up warm
When you take baby out of the bath it is important to wrap her up straight away as babies lose heat very quickly and wrapping them not only keeps in the warmth but it also makes them feel secure.
As a mother and grandmother with over forty years experience as a maternity nurse, child-care expert, parental adviser and author, Rachel, is one of the UK’s most sought after ‘gurus’ in the care and well-being of babies and young children. If you need advice on how to look after your little one visit www.rachelsbabies.com to arrange a consultation.