Bathing your newborn baby may seem overwhelming and a little intimidating at first. There is so much to get right and so many worries about getting it wrong. But with a little practice and these handy hints you and your little one will be looking forward to the magical time that is bath time.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby?
Newborns don’t need to be bathed as often as toddlers. Too frequent bathing can dry out their delicate skin. A bath two or three times a week is enough to keep your newborn clean. Between baths ensure to wash baby’s face and bits regularly. However if you enjoy giving bub a bath every day for bonding, play or to ensure a good sleep then go for it.
Big Bath or Baby Bath?
There are so many options of where to bathe a baby. Most of the time it comes down to the personal preference of the person who bathes bub.
Many homes these days don’t have a bath so the old school way of just shallow filling the family bath tub is often not an option.
If you bathe bub in an adult bath be sure to only fill it a little so that you don’t hurt your back trying to keep them afloat. About 10 centimetres of water is enough so you can reach in and cradle their head while their bottom sits on the base of the tub taking the rest of their body weight.
If you don’t have a bath then there are many other options including sharing a shower, to in sink bathing or customising a large bucket – just be sure that is is made of baby safe plastic with soft edges and won’t splinter under the pressure of the water.
A handy bath aid is the Skip Hop Moby Recline & Rinse Bather which enables you to bathe bub in the sink, on the bench or in the big bath tub.
If bathing your little one in a bucket, or the sink and you don’t have a bath then a baby bath is your go to.
The most loved baby bath on the market today is also the cutest as it is shaped like a whale. This is the Skip Hop Moby Smart Sling 3-Stage Bath which has a mesh sling perfect for newborns which can be removed for older bubs. You can adjust the sling in three different ways to suit bathing a newborn, older babies and then those bubs who can sit unaided.
The other great bath tub for baby is the Shnuggle Baby Bath. This is a compact bath that is perfect for smaller homes. It has a unique patented bum bump inside the base so you can actual prop bub in there and they can sit up while you bathe them. This means you have both hands free do go about washing baby. Parents of multiples are huge fans of the Shnuggle bath as each bub can have their own bath and be bathed all at the same time.
I personally preferred bathing my newborn in a baby bath and when she was older I moved her to the big bath so she could kick and splash about. I would set everything up on the dining table as that was the warmest spot in the house and when bath time was over I would transfer her to the towel and dry her off and give her a little massage all on the table which she loved and I didn’t have to worry about moving her around the house.
Setting Up the Bath Area
It is so important to have everything set up and within arms reach before you pop baby in the water. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to wrangle a wriggly wet newborn while trying to find a clean towel or a fresh nappy.
Here are some things you will want close by before hand:
- Soft towel
- Waterproof Change Mat
- Baby oil
- Baby shampoo
- Face washer
- Cotton Balls
- Change of clothes
- Fresh nappy
Baby & Bath Water
Babies have very sensitive thin skin, which means that too warm water can scald them very quickly. A safe temperature for a child’s bath is between 37°C and 38°C (or about 36°C for a newborn).
The old school way of testing the temperature of baby’s bath water is to dip your elbow in the water. When you put your elbow in the water, it should feel warm, not hot or cold.
When you’re a sleep deprived exhausted mum you tend to want a more accurate way of checking the water is at a safe temperature than your elbow so it’s best to get a bath bath thermometer and take the guess work out of it.
A baby bath thermometer will not only tell you at a glance if it is the perfect temperature for baby, but it can also stay in the bath as you bath your baby so you can easily monitor when it gets a bit too cold.
There are so many great bath thermometers out there on the market today but love the simple Pebby Bath Thermometer from Shnuggle.
They have called it the Pebbly as it looks just like a river pebble. But when you pop it in the water the little display on it’s top lights up to tell you how the water is. Too hot and the little love hear glows red, too cold and it glows blue, just right and it glows white.
Another important tip is to not over fill the bath. You only need about 8cm – 10cm for newborns and water to the hip for sitting bubs. An over filled bath places bub at risk of falling under the water’s surface. Too much bath water also means that you will need to lean over and cradle bub in your arm the whole time which can lead to a very sore back.
The most important tip is to never ever ever ever leave a child unattended in the bath even for one second. Never leave a baby with older siblings to supervise as they may not recognise when a small child is in danger, or react as quickly as an adult.
It’s Bath Time!
Before you place your newborn in the water, undress them down to their nappy and lay them gently on a change mat.
This is so they are not lying on a hard surface and a change mat like the Leander Matty is slightly elevated at the top which aids digestion if you are bathing them after a feed. The slight elevation also moves their line of sight from the very uninteresting ceiling to your face so you can chat or sing to them as you clean their little face. Another great feature of the Leander Matty is that is is waterproof so any spills or splashes can easily be wiped off leaving a clean hygienic surface to lay them on after bath time.
To clean their face use a soft face washer and warm water to cleanse their face. To keep them warm during the colder months you can pop a soft towel on them as you do this.
Use a damp cotton ball to wipe clean their eyelids. Wipe from the inside out and use a fresh cotton ball for each wipe.
Once you are done, remove your baby’s nappy and give their bottom and genitals a clean before putting them in the bath.
When you lower them into the tub, do so feet first keeping a secure hold on your baby, but one that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable. Support your baby’s head and torso with your arm, using the other hand to wash. You can do this by wrapping your arm around your baby’s back. When the time comes to wash their back and buttocks, shift your baby so they are leaning forward on your arm.
If you have a baby bath with a sling like the Moby Bath Tub then you can lay bub on the sling freeing up both arms and giving your back a break but always keeps one hand on baby.
You can gently pour water over your baby during the bath to keep them warm. Many babies feel very vulnerable when they first start having baths. To make them feel a little more comfortable it’s a good idea to place a soft face washer on them which also keeps them warm. Then only expose the areas that you are washing. Plain water is often enough to clean bub. I used to add a few drops of organic baby oil in the tub which helped to clean and moisturise at the same time. If bub needs a better clean then use a gentle baby safe moisturising soap.
When bub gets older and you move them into a big tub it is a good idea to line the bath with a rubber mat to prevent slipping. My kids are much older but we still use the Skip Hop Moby Bath Mat at bath times to prevent slipping and it is super cute too!
One thing to watch when they are older is the bath. I don’t know how many baths ended in tears due to one of my kids whacking their heads on the hard cold top. This is easily fixed with the Skip Hop Spout Cover that fits most taps. This is available in the Skip Hop Bathtime Kit along with a rinser, elbow rest and kneeler.
When bath time is over remove baby, pop them on your change mat and pat dry them off with a soft towel. Make sure you dry in the creases of the skin around their legs, knees and neck as these areas can harbour bacteria if left wet.
Now is also a good time to give them a massage which can help them relax for sleep time. Then get them dressed and give them one of those beautiful cuddles where you hold their warm little body breathe in their baby smell.