Shashank was working from home today. Riya and Shashank were happily discussing the baby’s arrival. How their life would change, how their routine would change, how the baby would become the center of their world. Shashank jokingly asked Riya to never make him clean the baby. With a big NO to his request, Riya looked at the calendar. She was excited The baby was to arrive in just 13 days. And again Riya got a new topic that she wanted to know about – Bathing the baby!
Here are all the necessary details that first-time parents need to know for their baby’s bathing safety :
The baby’s first bath
As per the World Health Organization recommendation under its Reproductive Health Library, the baby’s first bath must be delayed by at least 24 hours post-birth. If possible you could also wait up to 48 hours or more. Once the baby has arrived, it’s not necessary to bathe daily. Newborns neither get dirty nor sweat enough to have a full bath. In fact, too much bathing can dry out a baby’s skin. You can start with sponge baths, once or twice a week, for the first few months and gradually move to increase the frequency to make it a routine. However, bathing the baby only thrice a week for 1 – 1.5 years will keep their skin safer than otherwise.
Why is the baby’s first bath delayed?
The baby needs utter safety from feeding, sleeping, bathing and so much more. Even when it comes to delaying their first bath, here is how it keeps them safe :
- Increased Bonding Time :
The baby needs to have maximum skin to skin contact with the mother for the first two days. It allows the baby and mom to bond.
- Improved Breastfeeding Rate :
Being close to the mother actually adds positively to the baby’s breastfeeding initiation.
- Temperature Control :
Babies have lived in the mom’s belly at a very different temperature than outside. Exposing them to bathing within the first 48 hours makes it difficult for them to control their body heat. Keeping them warm is essential.
- Healing of the umbilical cord :
Before any formal bathing procedure, the baby’s safety must be maintained by giving enough time for the umbilical cord to healing.
Bathing the Baby Safely
- Until the umbilical cord gets healed
To keep the baby safe, you can go ahead with giving a sponge bath to the baby for the first few weeks. When the umbilical cord gets completely healed you could go ahead with a tub – bath routine.
To give a safe sponge bath :
- Get the supplies handy.
You would need a wet soft cloth (damped in soap-free water) and a soft dry cloth. You can also keep anything else that you might need.
- Place the baby at a safe place
Choose a flat surface to lay your baby. Make sure the surface is soft and fluffy for the baby. Do not choose a very high elevation to prevent your baby from falling.
- Hold the baby carefully
Note that you must keep your non – dominant hand on the baby for the whole time majorly to support its head and neck. The baby would move a lot and it might be a little uneasy until you get used to it.
- Start with washing the baby’s face
Use the damp cloth to wipe the baby’s face carefully. At this time the rest of its body should be covered to keep the baby warm.No water should enter the baby’s eyes, ear or mouth. Dip the damp cloth again in water. Rinse it and wipe the whole body except genitals. Finally, Dip the wet cloth in water again. Rinse and clean the diaper area.
- On the healing of umbilical cord
Once the umbilical cord is healed, your baby is then ready for direct water baths. These baths should be extremely gentle and brief during the initial months. If you feel that your baby is not comfortable at first, keep giving it the sponge bath for some more weeks. Start with bathing the baby in the bathtub once you feel that the baby is ready.
While giving tub – baths
- – Have all the bath essentials handy. You would majorly need a baby soap and soft towels. You can also get any other baby bathing essentials as you desire. This is important so that you have one of your hands-frees to hold. In case you recall something you need, make sure you carry the baby with you.
- – Allocate a designated bathing space that can be under your control. You should be using an infant tub which is of a size that keeps the baby safe and prevents the baby from sliding.
- – Line the tub with a clean towel.
- – Fill the tub with around 2 – 3 inches of water. The temperature should be mildly warm; neither too hot nor cold.
- – On undressing the baby, place it immediately in warm water so that the kid doesn’t feel cold. Keep the baby warm.
- – Place one of your hands to support the baby’s head, keep talking to the baby to keep it engaged.
- – Make sure the baby is safe with its body well above the water level. You can now frequently pour the warm water over the baby’s body to bathe her as well as keep her warm at the same time.
- – You can change the water once if you are using neutral pH soap for soiled areas. Rinse away the soap as soon as possible to keep the baby’s skin safe and soft.
It is normal to observe some scaly patches on the baby’s scalp. These will loosen and outgrow with time.
- – You can wash the baby’s hair twice or thrice a week using mild baby shampoo.
- – Gently massage to clean the baby’s scalp, do not rub. As you rinse the shampoo from the baby’s head, pay attention to covering its ears as well as forehead to prevent the shampoo from entering the baby’s eyes.
- – If at all some lather gets into the baby’s eyes, use a soft damp (in lukewarm water) cloth to wipe the eyes.
You are doing all you can to keep the baby safe. The most important part is to never leave the baby unattended while bathing even for a second. That’s all! Let the baby have fun while bathing. If the baby is enjoying, let him/her smile and splash some water on you as well.