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Establishing Your Newborn’s Bath Routine

Welcoming a new baby into the family is an exciting experience! Among the many new routines you’ll establish, one of the most cherished is the baby’s bath time. Not only does it help in keeping your little one clean and comfortable, but it also offers an opportunity for bonding. Whether you’re a mum, dad, or non parental caregiver, these moments with your baby can be incredibly special.

In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of establishing a safe and loving newborn bath routine. From understanding the best time for that first dip to finding the right water temperature, we’re here to support you every step of the way. So, let’s dive into the world of bubbles, towels, and tender care!

When To Give Your Newborn Their First Bath

Deciding the perfect time for your newborn’s first bath is a common question that arises among new parents and caregivers. Some parents wait until the umbilical cord stump falls off, which usually happens within the first 1-2 weeks of life. 

If you opt to bathe your baby straight away, make sure the umbilical stump is properly dried, and only use water to clean it. If your baby has a messy accident and there is pee or poo around the stump, use a mild baby cleanser to clean it off.  Regardless of how you clean your baby’s umbilical cord stump, ensure the area is properly dried before dressing your wee one. 

During these early days, you don’t have to worry about giving your little one a full bath. Instead, you can opt for a gentle and effective method known as “topping and tailing.” This involves using a damp washcloth or sponge to clean your baby’s face, neck, hands, and bottom.

Remember, every baby is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re unsure about when to start bathing your newborn, it’s always a good idea to consult with your baby’s doctor or child and family nurse. They can provide personalised advice based on your baby’s specific needs and health.

Bathing Basics: How to Bathe a Newborn

Bathing a newborn is not just about cleanliness; it’s a ritual that can encourage bonding and (if you’re lucky) soothe your little one. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure a safe and enjoyable bath time:

  • Choose a Spot: It’s a good idea to find a place in your home where you can comfortably bend without causing pain to your lower back, such as the kitchen table or sink. You should be able to comfortably hold your baby while in the bath. 
  • Preparation: Gather all your supplies (gentle baby cleanser, a soft washcloth, a towel, a clean diaper, and fresh clothes) before you begin. Having everything you need within reach eliminates the need to get something while baby is in the bath.
  • Water Temperature and Amount: Aim for bath water around 37-38°C, which is close to body temperature.  Use a bath thermometer or test the water with your elbow to ensure it’s not too hot or cold. You don’t need to fill the tub with too much water – shallow is ideal, just enough to wash baby.
  • Clean Baby’s Eyes and Face: Before putting your little one in the tub or sink, wipe each eye, from inner corner to outer corner, using a warm, damp cloth.
  • Gentle Washing: Gently cleanse your baby, starting from the top and working your way down. Use a washcloth for their face and behind the ears, and a little mild baby cleanser for their body and scalp.
  • Rinsing: Carefully rinse off baby to avoid irritation. A hand-held shower head or cup can be useful for this.
  • Drying: After the bath, wrap your baby in a soft, cosy towel and gently pat them dry, paying special attention to skin folds.

Remember, every baby’s skin is different. If you notice any dryness or irritation, you might need to see your baby’s doctor to determine whether you need to adjust the frequency of baths or the products you’re using.

Perfecting the Bath Temperature

Getting the bath temperature just right is key to a safe and comfortable bath time for your newborn. The ideal water temperature for a newborn’s bath is about 37°C – warm enough to keep them cosy without risk of being too hot.

Of course, the most reliable way to check the temperature is with a bath thermometer. This takes the guesswork out of the process, ensuring the water is at a safe and comfortable temperature for your baby.

If you don’t have a thermometer, use your elbow to test the water. The water should feel warm, not hot.

It’s also important to consider the room temperature. A warm, draught-free room is ideal for bathing your newborn.

Using Bath Supports for Safety

Ensuring the safety of your newborn during bath time is the most important consideration. Bath supports can play a role in this, providing stability and comfort for your baby while easing some of the stress for parents and caregivers. However, it’s important to note that bath aids can be dangerous when not used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Never leave a baby alone in a bath, even if they are in a bath aid.

There’s a variety of bath supports available, including mesh slings, padded tubs, and reclined seats. Choose one that best suits your baby’s age and your bathing setup.

Be sure to find an age-appropriate option for your little one. Bath supports for older babies have different features than newborn bath supports. While both are designed to keep your baby safe, newborn bath supports are specifically tailored for the littlest ones, offering more support and a snugger fit.

For first-time parents or caregivers, bath supports can be a game-changer. They provide a stable base for your baby, freeing up your hands for washing and making the whole process more manageable and less intimidating.

As your baby grows and gains more control over their movements, you can gradually transition away from using bath supports. However, always prioritise your baby’s safety and comfort in deciding when to make this change.

Remember: Always keep a hand on your baby, even with a support device. Never leave your baby unattended in the bath, not even for a moment.

Topping and Tailing: What is it and Why is it Important?

“Topping and tailing” is a gentle method to keep your newborn clean between full baths. It’s particularly useful when a full bath isn’t necessary.

Here’s how to effectively top and tail your newborn:

  • Preparation: Gather all your supplies — a bowl of warm water, a soft washcloth, cotton balls, a towel, a clean diaper, and fresh clothes.
  • Topping (Cleaning the Face and Neck): Dampen the washcloth or cotton ball with warm water. Gently wipe your baby’s face, behind the ears, and under the neck. These areas can gather milk residue, spit-up, or sweat.
  • Tailing (Cleaning the Bottom): Remove the diaper and use a new washcloth or cotton ball to clean your baby’s bottom and genital area. Always wipe from front to back to prevent infection, especially in girls.
  • Drying: Gently pat your baby dry with a soft towel, ensuring you dry all the creases to prevent irritation.

This method is not just about cleanliness; it’s also a great opportunity for bonding with your baby. It’s gentle, easy, and helps your newborn stay clean and comfortable without the need for a daily bath.

How Many Baths Does a Newborn Need Weekly?

A common question for new parents and caregivers is about the frequency of bathing a newborn. It’s important to strike a balance between maintaining good hygiene and preserving the natural oils in a baby’s skin.

Generally speaking, bathing your newborn two to three times a week is sufficient. This frequency helps keep your baby clean while avoiding the risk of drying out their sensitive skin.

You should also keep your baby’s skin type in consideration. Every baby’s skin is different. If your baby has dry or sensitive skin, you might need to adjust the bathing frequency. Conversely, if your baby enjoys bath time and doesn’t show signs of skin dryness, bathing once a day is fine.

As your baby grows, gets more active, and starts crawling, you may find the need to increase the number of baths. Always observe your baby’s skin and comfort, and adjust accordingly.

Cherished Moments: Your Newborn’s Bath Routine

As we wrap up our guide on newborn bathing, it’s important to remember that these moments are about more than just cleanliness. They’re opportunities for bonding and nurturing a sense of security and love in your baby. Talking, singing, and gentle play during the bath can strengthen the bond between you and your baby.

Establishing a consistent bath routine can help create a comforting rhythm in your baby’s life. This routine becomes a signal for relaxation and sleep, especially beneficial when followed by a quiet, cuddle time.

Post-bath, giving your baby a gentle massage or cuddling them close can extend this bonding time. 

As your baby grows, their bath routine will evolve. Cherish each stage, from the first baths with gentle topping and tailing to the more playful splashes of an older baby.

We hope this guide has helped you feel more prepared and excited for your newborn’s bath routine. Here’s to many happy, splash-filled moments ahead!

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