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Ultimate Guide for Bathing a Newborn the Right Way

March 4, 2017
Ultimate Guide for Bathing a Newborn the Right Way

Ultimate Guide for Bathing a Newborn the Right Way

Newborn babies are extremely delicate, sometimes even as new parents, we are afraid to touch them because we might break them. At some point in time, we will get over this feeling and get used to the next month with a very fragile little one in our arms. There are always the baby's firsts! And one of the firsts that we need to be very careful about is giving our newborn a bath.

It's not as simple as giving a baby a bath. There are so many things to consider. And too many things to think about when we give our babies a bath. With so many questions that bother us like how to bathe a newborn baby with the umbilical cord ? Should I bathe a baby immediately or how long should you wait to bathe a newborn? Do newborn babies have to take a bath every day? How often does a baby need a bath? There are plenty of things to think about and we are going to tackle each and every one of them.

First thing is first, you need to get your little one the right and best bathtub for infants, you can get baby bathtubs that can accommodate a newborn, an infant and a toddler. So you just need to get the right one for you and your baby. A baby bath tub really helps as well because giving a soapy squirming delicate newborn in your arm can be terrifying. You'll build up the confidence sooner or later when it comes to bathing a newborn.

No to the question, when is baby's first bath? Should you bathe your baby only after the umbilical cord falls off? Or bathe right away when coming from the hospital? Or should you bathe your baby right after being born? When your baby is born, your baby is completely covered in amniotic fluid and it is everywhere! This fluid needs to be cleansed. Initially, hospitals would either just wipe the baby or do a quick rinse to get rid of the fluid. You can actually start bathing your baby days after being born. You need to wash off that fluid completely, don't you? But you need extra care and vigilance when doing so.​

Bathing a baby takes a lot of confidence especially if you a new mommy. But if you're not that confident yet, get someone who knows how to do it and watch carefully. In the initial stage when you're just off the hospital, you don't have to use soap on your baby. Some soaps-- no matter how mild they are-- can irritate your baby's skin. In fact, it can even dry it out. If you do want to bathe your baby with soap then you need to prepare two buckets of mildly warm water for your baby.

Points to remember on how to bathe a newborn with umbilical cord

  • Make sure that the water is the right temperature. It is better to just scoop water out rather than use water straight from the tap or showerhead. Even if it may seem warm to you, remember that baby's delicate skin can easily dry out in eve warm water. Settle for lukewarm water a little bit on the cooler side preferably lower than and never higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have everything by your side at arm's length. Don't ever leave your baby even just to grab the baby shampoo, towel or soap.
  • If you want to use soap, it is better to use liquid mild soap. Fill the bathtub with enough water for your infant and add a few drops of soap in the bath. You can also use a bar soap but it is harder to wash off your baby. You can rinse your baby with clean water afterwards.
  • Use an infant mesh of you can't give your baby a bath on your own. Remember that support is key to bathing a new baby.
  • Don't over bathe your little one. There is no point keeping your newborn submerged in water that is getting cooler by the minute. Five minutes is enough to bathe your newborn.

So here is how to give bath to newborn baby at home

1. Get a soft washcloth.

2. Get it wet with clean plain water and wipe off your baby's face first.

3. Start with and around the eyes going down the nose and cheeks, then the mouth.

4. When washing the head, get a scoop of water and gently pour at the furthest tip of the head, this way water won't go on your baby's face. Do the same with the tap or showerhead.

◦ TIP: The head is very fragile, you may also want to wash it after bathing the entire body or wrap it with a light dry towel to keep the warmth of the water on your baby's head.​

5. With the damp washcloth, bathe your baby gently and quickly.

6. To wash your baby's back, hold your baby by the jaw. Position your hand over your baby's jaw with the thumb and the index finger holding the face and your entire arm across your little one's chest and groin area, gently turn your baby to the side and use your hand as a support so that your baby won't fall off the mesh.

newborn bath

• If you have a small light baby, you can turn your baby and let your entire arm support your newborn-- that is if you are confident you can carry your baby. Reposition as soon as possible right after you wipe the back and the bum area with the washcloth.

7. Wash your baby's legs and toes.

8. Wash the groin area well starting from front to back as you would in diaper changes.

• For Girls, don't fuss over the whitish discharge in your daughter's vagina. That is completely normal. It disappears in time so make sure you keep it clean at all costs.

• For Boys, you don't need to pull back the foreskin, which will loosen up in time. Just wash the penis and scrotum area well. But, if your baby has just been recently circumcised, you need to keep changing your baby's bandage. You can still give your little boy a bath but try to resist using soapy water because it might sting. You need to DRY it off completely by dabbing it dry with cotton balls.

9. Rinse.

10. Wrap your baby in a towel immediately and swaddle your baby.​

NOTE: If you give your baby a complete bath with your little one's umbilical cord, you should make sure that you dry it off completely.

  • Get a cotton ball and dab off the excess water.
  • After that, get a cotton bud and gently dab off the water around the stump.
  • Be very careful, dab off the water around the belly button too.
  • Don't use alcohol or any sort of cleaning agent on your little one's umbilical cord. Just use a plain dry cotton bud.

How to sponge bathe a newborn?

Some parents are not comfortable bathing their newborns until after the umbilical cord falls off. So, why no bath until the cord falls off ? This is to reduce the risk of infection and complications regarding the umbilical cord. It is a very delicate area that is why parents prefer to give baby's first bath after umbilical cord falls off. In that case, how to sponge bathe a newborn? Here are the steps:

  1. Lay a rubber mat where you’re going to give your baby a sponge bath.
  2. Get a damp soft washcloth or soft sponge and wipe your baby’s face and head. E particularly gentle on the head. There are soft spots you do not want to press on.
  3. Wipe behind the ears and around the neck.
  4. Wipe your little one’s arms and down the torso avoiding the tummy area.
  5. Wipe your baby’s legs clean.
  6. Regarding the groin are, better get your washcloth or sponge wetter. The groin and bum areas need a more thorough cleaning.
  7. The trick is clean from top to bottom.
  8. Pat dry your baby never ever wipe with a towel, you are stripping off more natural oils left on your baby’s skin.

Cleaning the belly button with a stump

cleaning baby's belly button
  1. You only need cotton balls, cotton buds, and sterile/ distilled water.
  2. Never ever go for alcohol, antiseptics—unless prescribed, oils lotions on the stump.
  3. Damp a cotton bud tips and gently wipe around the stump. If there is som kind of sticky goo that doesn’t seem to come off, leave it. Don’t force yourself to clean it. It will eventually dry up and fall off.
  4. Get a cotton ball and pat dry the stump.
  5. Remove excess water off with a dry cotton bud.
  6. When putting your baby’s diaper, fold the diaper away from the stump. Some newborn diapers already have a space allotted for the stump but since some babies are pretty tiny, you may have the need to fold it away still.
  7. Keep checking the stump, if it bleeds, don’t panic. Call your pediatrician and ask for advice.

How to bathe a newborn baby Indian style?

Now when your baby is more than a month old, you may want a more in-tuned bathing style. Indian moms bathe their babies without a bathtub. For sure, it's a scary thought especially since babies are very fragile but the fact is that it promotes skinship. Now that is something that builds a mommy-baby relationship. So, how to bathe a newborn baby Indian style? Here's how:

Things to remember:

  • You will definitely get wet. If you don’t want your clothes getting damp, simply wear shorts for this method.
  • You may also need to use two stools of different heights.
  • Have all of your baby bathing essentials at arm’s reach.
  • Always go for a tender washcloth. You can also just use your hands if your think washcloths and sponges can harm your baby.
  • It is best to have a companion with you, someone to assist you with in case you need something. This is totally optional, though.
    1. Sit on a higher stool and rest both of your foot on a lower stool.
    2. Put your baby between your legs and not your thighs. You can put your baby either facing you or away from you.
    3. Undress your little one.
    4. Get a wash cloth damp and wipe your baby’s face clean starting with the eyes and around it.
    5. Get your baby wet and start lathering up the mild soap.
    6. If your baby is facing away from your you can easily wash the hair– if your baby has hair.
    7. To rinse the shampoo off your newborn’s head pour water over the back part of the head and use your hand to drive water over the frontal part of your little one’s head. This is to keep the soap and water away from your baby’s face.
    8. After rinsing the head, start from neck down.
    9. Lather up soap over under the chin and around the neck.
    10. Soap up down the arms and tummy and over to the legs and the groin.
    11. Rinse.
    12. Flip your baby over to let your little one breathe through the space between your legs.
    13. Soap up the back and the bum and rinse thoroughly.
    14. Flip your baby back up and do some final rinsing.
    15. Pat dry your baby’s face and wrap him/ her in a warm dry towel.

There are so many ways to bathe a newborn. Bathing a newborn baby doesn't have to be a tough and scary job. Just find courage because you know that you will definitely be careful with your child. Besides, it can be one of the most fulfilling duties of a mom and one of the most fun things you can do with your little one as they grow older. Newborn bath time doesn't need to be done daily anyway, you can simply bathe your child about 3 to 4 times a week. They're not as active as 6 month-old babies and above who need to bathe practically every day. So have fun in bathing newborns using the ParentsNeed happy baby tips.

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