For many new parents, giving their baby a bath is one of the first big baby care events after surviving that first night home from the hospital.
Newborns seem so tiny and giving them a bath seems so intimidating!
But remember! Babies are people, too! And, even babies love a nice warm bath! Who doesn’t? Today, our lead postpartum doula, and skilled baby bath time expert, Suzanne Lee, breaks it down for you, step-by-step, so it won’t seem so scary. She first learned this method from Kim Bepler of ABC Doula Service in Portland Oregon, who created a video called "The Spa Bath", and has a few more luxurious details that we will leave out for a normal bath how-to.
We have found though that babies really love this bath process. Suzanne's even had a few sleep through bath time doing it this way!
Now, let's get clean!
Important: First off, be sure that your baby’s umbilical cord has naturally fallen off and that their navel is clear and dry and looks like a belly button. This takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks for this to happen. Once that happens, you are ready to give your baby an immersive water bath. Before then, just give them a wipe them down with a warm washcloth as needed (or as diaper blow outs necessitate)!
Preparing for the bath is absolutely key.
Gather your things together and have them ready to go before you get started.
Here is what you need:
Infant bathtub or bath sponge
2 receiving blankets
1 regular bath towel
1 infant bath towel
Small plastic cup
Baby Lotion or natural oil
1. Choose the place where you want to set up your bath. Hint: This is often not within your own bathub. We suggest an area with a large counter space, at a height where you'll feel most comfortable holding a slippery baby; so often, the kitchen is a great place to bathe your baby.
2. Set your tub in or near the sink; if you are using a bath sponge set it inside the sink and add water. We like the water nicely warm to our touch but not too hot.
3. Take the regular bath towel and fold it to create a soft padded area to prepare and change your baby for the bath. On top of it, lay the infant towel and then each receiving blanket at an angle as your would prepare to swaddle your baby, cause that is what you will do next.
4. Lay your baby on top of this, undress them and take off their diaper, clean up any bottom messes with wipes and using the top blanket swaddle up your baby.
5. Gently place your baby in the tub, go slowly and watch them as they adjust to the sensation of the water. After they are secure, take your cup and begin pouring water over their blanket wrapped body. Don’t at this point, pour water on their head or face. Talk to them, watch them as they relax into the experience, they love this sensation. After a few minutes, take a washcloth, and wet it, and begin washing their face starting with their eyes, nose and mouth, then cheeks and ears. Wet it again, and add a little drop of soap.
6. Wash their neck, you can pickup their chin and wash the creases under their chin and neck since it gets cheesy there. Uncover each arm and wash it, all the while keeping them warm by pouring water on their body at different intervals. Keep washing their body, top-down in this fashion while continuing to cover them with the blanket and warm water. This keeps them comfy and warm the entire time. The last part is washing their bottom and back.
7. Once your baby is washed, you are ready for the big transfer out of the warm water! Uncover them and hold your baby by the neck and butt and quickly transfer them to the dry receiving blanket and baby towel that is beside you. Quickly swaddle them up on both layers before they get too fussy! Hold them for a minute and talk to them to help settle them down.
8. Once settled, you can wash the head. Hold your baby in a football hold with their head over the baby tub, pour water over their head and then shampoo their hair and rinse.
9. Cover their head with the baby towel layer and dry them off, at the towel pad you created.
10. Apply lotion, massage your baby, diaper and clothe them and don't forget to take photos of their sweet little wet eye lashes and soft-bristle-brush hairstyle!
Hooray! You have given them their first bath! A parenting milestone!