Bathing a newborn is little scary but, as our quick how-to video shows (seen below), the fear usually stays only in the beginning. However, simple as it may be, safety should always be a priority during bathtime. Infant injuries, near-drownings, burns from hot water, and death have been associated with infant bath tubs and bathing, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Remember these tips from the AAP and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) whenever you give your little one a bath: 1. Have everything prepared beforehand. You always have to have one hand on your child whether you’re giving him a sponge bath or bathing him. For older babies and young kids who are able to support themselves, they should still be within an arm’s reach away from you when bathing. A lapse in supervision, like parents leaving their babies to get a towel, has caused infant deaths, according to the CPSC.
Hence, make sure you have everything you need to wash your baby before you start bathing him. This includes a tub filled with warm water, towels, a washcloth and mild cleanser (if need be). If you forget something or have to leave, take your baby with you.
2. Choose the tub carefully. There are many types of baby bath tubs available -- slanted bath tubs, bucket-style tubs where babies sit upright, inflatable, and folding. Always check for sturdiness when choosing a baby bath tub. If it has parts, check that all are attached securely. “When buying a hard plastic tub, look for a smooth shape and edges. Avoid tubs with places where your baby could be pinched,” says the AAP.
Take note that foldable tubs and inflatable tubs may be more convenient for storage, but they are often less sturdy than non-foldable ones, says the AAP. Incidents have happened of babies getting limbs and body parts trapped in tubs that folded. The AAP also recommends avoiding tubs with fabric or mesh as they increase the risk of accidents.
3. Check the water temperature. Follow the example of the parent in the video above. Always check that the water is not too hot before placing your baby in the tub. Mayo Clinic says that a good temperature to aim for is around 38°C. If you don’t have a bath thermometer handy, use your elbow as it may be a better judge of temperature than your hand. “When you put your elbow in the water, it should feel warm, not hot,” says the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Don’t bathe your baby in an air-conditioned room as well as a wet baby can get easily chilled, says Mayo Clinic.
4. Never leave your child unattended. “It takes only a few inches of water for a young child to drown,” says the CPSC, stressing that you should never leave a child in a tub unattended. It takes but a moment of a parent turning his back away for a child to drown in the tub. As previously mentioned, if you have to leave, take the baby with you and don’t entrust another young child to watch your baby.
The CPSC also advises against leaving tubs of water around toddlers and young children, which includes your timba we commonly use. If you have one in your home, make sure you always supervise your child when she’s in the bathroom. Always empty a timba after use as well -- never leave it filled even if it’s just a small amount of water. Just last June, news was reported of a 1-year-old’s fatal accident involving this type of basin.
5. Learn CPR. No matter the amount of precautions we take, preparedness will always include knowledge of how to administer lifesaving first aid. Learn CPR and other first aid procedures for babies here.