The scent of a newborn baby can be intoxicatingly wonderful. But what happens when that delicious little squish starts smelling more like the pint of yogurt forgotten in the back of your fridge for months?
Guess it's bath time! Bathing a squirmy, slipper newborn can be intimidating, especially the first time!
The First Days
The first week or two, babies rarely, if ever, need a true "bath". Some hospitals are encouraging delaying bathing until after 24 hours or waiting until closer to discharge. That creamy-looking film called vernix, is good for baby's delicate skin. A soft washcloth dampened with warm water is enough. Some parents find it easiest to bring a bowl of warm water to the diaper changing area. Soaps, oils and lotions are not necessary.
Avoid getting baby's tummy wet until the umbilical stump has dried, fallen off and appears healed. Be sure to gently wipe and allow the areas to dry completely, paying particular attention to
- diaper area including creases in the hips and thighs
- folds of elbows and underarms
- neck creases where milk can collect
- chin and face
The First Bath
Once baby's cord stump has healed, you may submerge baby in water to bathe. There are lots of different devices and tubs on the market from tubs from sink inserts to mesh slings in plastic tubs to baby jacuzzis!
If you would prefer to use your sink for bathing your baby, the Blooming Bath Lotus is a great option to provide some cushion and support. If you are looking for a baby bath tub that will grow with you child, we love the First Years Sure Comfort and Fischer-Price Baby Ocean tubs. These tubs can be used in the kitchen on the sink/counter or in your bathroom tub. Bath seats like the Angelcare Baby Bath Support are great for using to support baby in your tub or shower.
The key to a successful bathing experience is in the preparation. Ensure your bath area is ready well in advance of when you want to bathe baby. Some things you will want to have on hand include
- baby tub
- mild soap
- 2 towels
- baby hat
- fresh diaper
- warm blanket
- clothes/pjs for baby
- dry shirt for you and/or your partner
Take a bath with your little one.
Another alternative to sponge bathing or using a baby tub/sling is taking a bath WITH your baby in your tub. Obviously, this is only an option once you are cleared by your care provider to do so. Plus sitting in a warm bath can help with postpartum healing and discomfort, so it's a win-win for both of you!
Bathing with your baby can not only be a sweet bonding experience, but keeping them close to your body can help baby regulate their body temperature as well. You will want to have your partner, postpartum doula or other support person available as a second set of hands to bring baby to you once you are in the tub and take baby in a warm towel afterward.
Enjoy the snuggles and sweet smell of a fresh, clean baby!