Like most newborns’ chores, the first bath is usually worrying for most moms. Remember that bath time is a golden opportunity to establish a bedtime routine for your baby and create a bond as well. Keep on giving your baby a warm bath before bedtime until they adapt.
When should newborns take their first bath?
The World Health Organization recommends giving the firth bath at least after 24 – 48 hours from birth for two main reasons:
- A baby is born coated with a waxy substance called vernix, which has antibacterial properties that protect babies from germs and infections. Thus, it’s not recommended to wash it off.
- It’s believed that newborns need time to regulate their body temperature outside the womb. This reduces the risk of hypothermia which is a medical emergency where body heat loss is faster than production causing a dangerously low body temperature.
- A medical study found out that delaying a newborn’s first bath eased the breastfeeding process as it takes place immediately after birth with skin-to-skin contact. At the hospital, you can ask the nurses to clean off the amniotic fluid and blood only without giving the baby a bath.
How often should you bathe a newborn?
There is no scientific recommendation for bathing frequency. Some pediatricians recommend two to three baths per week. However, some moms prefer giving a daily bath that doesn’t cause any harm to the baby. Just avoid giving more than one bath a day as this might dry out your baby’s delicate skin.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving your newborn a sponge bath until the umbilical cord stump falls off and the navel heals. This takes around 5-15 days. Another thing that requires a sponge bath is if the baby had surgery and has stitches or bandages on their skin.
Essential items for bathing:
- Bath sponge
- A large bowl of warm water
- Mild baby shower gel
- Baby shampoo
- A big baby towel with a built-in hood and a small baby towel
- Cotton pads
- Rinsing cup
- Small washcloth
- If you bathe your baby somewhere other than the bathroom, place the sponge on the floor or any flat surface like a kitchen counter or changing table. Make sure the room’s temperature is not less than 24 degrees. In the bathroom, you can warm the room by letting warm water run for a few minutes. You can fill the sink instead of using a bowl. Make sure to precheck the water temperature with your inner wrist.
- Place the sponge inside the baby bathtub.
- Take off all rings.
- Undress your baby and take the diaper off last. Cover your baby’s belly button with a small towel.
- Lay your baby on his/her back on the sponge.
- Dip a cotton pad in the bowl then wipe your baby’s eyes from the inside corner of the eye, outwards toward the ear. Dip another one in water and wipe your baby’s face and outer ears. Don’t forget the area behind the ears as it collects dirt, as well as skin folds.
- Add a small amount of shower gel to the sponge to wash the rest of the body.
- Uncover the navel and gently wipe it with a washcloth, making sure to keep it dry. If you accidentally get the stump wet, gently pat it dry with a soft towel. If your baby is circumcised, wash his penis with water only until it heals.
- Wrap your baby’s body with a big towel.
- Put your arm under your baby’s back and your hand under his/her head.
- Wet the head and gently wash it with a small amount of shampoo, then rinse it.
- You can apply baby lotion or moisturizer before dressing the baby.
Once your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you can safely give him/her a normal bath in a baby bathtub or chair. There are many bathtubs that have an internal sling so you can easily lay your baby before he/she is able to sit on his/her own.
- Baby bathtub or chair
- Mild baby shower gel
- Baby shampoo
- Big baby towel
- Baby sponge
- Rinsing cup
- Bath toys
- Check the water’s temperature with your wrist or elbow. Once your baby can sit up, make sure that the water in the tub doesn’t exceed his/her belly button. At this stage, you can include bath toys and bubbles to make it fun.
- Never leave your baby unattended in the tub.
- Support his/her back with one hand and put the other hand under his/her butt. Gently lower your baby into the tub as you support his/her head and neck with your arm.
- You can clean the face the same way as the sponge bath.
- Wash the body and hair.
- For baby girls, wash the diaper area from front to back.
- If your baby develops cradle cap, use a special foam baby shampoo or you can gently rub it with essential oil. Then loosen the scales with a soft-bristle baby brush.
- Should We Wash Newborn Clothes Before Using?
- 9 Worrying Facts Every Mom Should Know About Newborns
- Motherhood Capsule: How to Prepare Your Newborn’s Diaper Changing Station
Rahet Bally is every mother’s support system, join the biggest community of moms in Egypt, save on your daily motherhood expenses with our Rahet Bally Discount Card, and get back in shape and eat clean with our tailored Rahet Bally’s Motherhood Fitness & Nutrition Program.