As you read this, you might be thinking, “I really thought bathing a baby would seem like a given, a lot U.Nmysterious task” or “Why do I have to Not do you know how to bathe my newborn?” but guess what? It’s okay to be a newbie. It’s okay to realize midway through the task that you actually have no idea if you’re doing this correctly. It’s okay to be so madly tired as a new parent that before you engage in a single activity with your baby, you want to double-check that you’re doing it in a meaningful, safe, and easy way. Here are expert tips and a step-by-step guide on how to bathe a baby.
Bathe a baby in 5 steps, according to a pediatrician
Who doesn’t love a simple guide? Neela Sethi, MD, a MAM Baby ambassador and practicing pediatrician, shares the following simple tips for giving your baby their first, second or 100th bath.
1. Keep them cozy
To begin with, Dr. Sethi to undress the baby in a comfortable place somewhere near the bathtub.
2. Wash your face first
Before putting the baby in the bath, cover them with a towel to keep them nice and warm and pre-wash the baby’s face to avoid water on their face during bathing. To do this, use a soft, warm cloth.
Related: 11 Best Baby Bathtubs That Don’t Need A Second Pair Of Hands
3. Put her feet first in the bathtub
You know that classic baby hold with the baby’s head in the crook of your arm and your hand free to hold the little hand or arm furthest from your body? Adjust this slightly to slowly place baby feet first in the tub. Rest the baby’s head on your forearm, with the hand of the same arm gently but firmly holding the baby’s arm to one side. Your other arm can support baby’s bottom and legs while you gently adjust them to the feel of the water.
4. Skip the soap
For young babies (even as young as 6 months), clean, warm water is all you need – no soap or bubbles needed. dr Sethi recommends gently cleaning the baby’s head and hair, and then going to the tummy and back, armpits, genital area and bottom. Cute little baby rolls are prone to inflammation and rashes if not kept clean, so don’t forget to focus on the creases!
Related: 3 Brilliant Products That Make Bathing With Baby *so* Much Easier
5. Gently but firmly lift them up
When bath time is over, using a gentle but firm grip on one arm and legs/feet, slowly lift baby out of the tub and place them on a fresh, fluffy towel.
The best baby bathtubs
Accessories for bathing babies
We want to emphasize that baby bath time doesn’t have to be complicated. So what do you really need?
- A safe place to bathe your baby. Sometimes this looks like a sling style bath seat to put in the kitchen sink when your baby is little. To others, this looks like a separate tub that can stand on the bathroom floor or in the larger tub in their bathroom and be filled to a level just deep enough to keep baby warm while propped up in the water lies.
- A few soft, clean towels and washcloths. These may or may not be made specifically for babies, but the key is that they are extra soft as babies can have sensitive skin.
- Finally, a gentle, unscented baby soap. However, keep in mind that the use of soap for bathing is not necessary for the first few months. When babies are small and essentially immobile, soaps and detergents are an unnecessary step that can irritate or overly dry baby’s skin by stripping away natural oils.
A few of our favorite baby bath essentials
5 baby bath time safety tips to keep in mind
As a pediatric nurse, I am a big supporter of Safety First. Here’s what else you need to know to make bath time safe and easy for everyone involved.
1. Gather what you need before taking the baby to the bathing area
The temptation to leave the baby unattended while you “just grab one thing” will be real. Make sure you have everything you need before you start bathing to resist this temptation altogether as it is unsafe to leave babies or young children unattended in water of any depth.
2. Test the water first
While as adults we love a nice hot bath, our skin is thicker and stronger, my friends, and can easily endure temperatures that would burn our babies. Lukewarm water is fine for babies, and it’s best to test the water on a sensitive area of your own skin. Think of the inside of your wrist, not a finger or some other weathered area of your skin.
Related: How often do kids *really* need to take a bath?
3. Be brief
Small babies aren’t good at regulating their body temperature, so it’s best to keep baths short. Five minutes is enough and gives the baby a chance to get used to the water and maybe even relax a little.
4. Always hold your baby in your hand
Countless newborns have surprised their parents with a sudden jerky movement that resulted in an otherwise avoidable fall, and the slippery nature of bathtime increases that risk a bit.
5. Don’t leave the baby alone
Because it’s the cardinal rule of watertime, I’ll say it again. Never leave your baby alone in the bath.
bottom line? Bath time doesn’t have to be complicated. A few simple supplies and a little prep is all you need. You are doing well, my friends.
Neela Sethi, MD, is a Mom baby Ambassador and practicing pediatrician.