There are suddenly so many questions that arise in your mind when it comes to bathing your newborn. When to give your newborn a bath? How often should you bathe a newborn? What is the right water temperature? Don’t be nervous, we’ve got all the bases covered to prepare you for baby’s first bath—and can be an enjoyable experience for both of you.
When to give your newborn a bath
Once you get your little one, there’s no fixed time for when to give the baby her first bath. It’s totally up to the parents. Justin Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas says, “Many families are excited about giving a baby their first newborn bath at home, but waiting a few days is fine”.
Delaying your newborn first bath decreases rates of hypothermia and hypoglycemia. In addition, babies are born with a waxy, cheese-like coating on their skin, called the vernix, which you don’t want to wash off, Williamson says, since it helps retain heat and can serve as an additional barrier to infections.
You can bath your baby at any time of the day, but it’s a good idea to pick a time. Avoid bathing your baby when he’s hungry or straight after a feed.
How Often Should You Bathe a Newborn?
How often you bathe your baby is up to you. Karen Benzies, a parenting expert and professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Calgary says daily baths really aren’t necessary. Two to three times a week is enough to keep your newborn clean, however regular bath to your baby is fine as well. If your baby really likes baths, bath him once a day. But, excess bathing to your newborn can dry out your baby’s skin.
Always clean your baby genitals area by using warm water and cotton wool. A 5 minutes bath is long enough for a newborn and especially important if your baby has dry or sensitive skin.
What is the right water temperature?
The temperature of the bath water for a newborn should be between 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent chilling or burning the baby. Make sure that bath water temperature should never hotter than 120 degrees. The best way to check the water temperature is by dipping your wrist or elbow into the water, but if you are not sure or feeling nervous, you can also use a bath thermometer. It should be comfortably warm, not hot.
Bathing your newborn
Bathing a newborn can be tricky at first, so if possible, engage the help of a partner or family member. Here are a few steps to get ready for a newborn bath. Follow these steps to give your baby a quick and gentle sponge bath:
- Firstly, wash your hands and take off all your jewelry from your hands.
- Turn your phone off while bathing baby. It is important to keep your eyes on your baby at all times. You’ll be not to get distracted even for a second. Remember that just a little bit of water can be dangerous if your infant somehow manages to flip over.
- Place the bathtub somewhere stable and where you can comfortably hold your baby.
- Make sure that you have everything that you need for your baby example- baby soap, dry towel, wash clothes, clean diaper, oil, lotion, powder, etc. Everything should be within your arms reach.
- Aim for about 2 to 3 inches of water in the bath, to keep baby safe.
- Undress your baby, taking her diaper off last.
- Lower your baby in the bathtub (feet first) by supporting his head and neck with one hand and keeping a close hold at all times.
- Gently wipe baby all over including her head and face, paying special attention under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, diaper area, and any creases and rolls.
- Once the baby is out of the bath, wrapped him up warmly in a hooded towel. You don’t need to worry about applying after-bath products. You can skip them or use them later. For dry patches near elbow and wrists, you can use coconut oil, sunflower oil or lotion.
“Newborns don’t need body lotion, but if you choose to use one, make sure it’s hypoallergenic and designed for babies,” says Benzies.