When to Give Your Baby's First Bath and How Often to Bathe HimA new parent's essential how-to guide for baby's first bath
It is one of the many firsts you and your baby will be sharing together! Whether excited or a little nervous, here's a quick how-to guide to help prepare you for your baby's first bath.
When to bathe your infant
Your baby’s first bath at home will be after her umbilical cord stump has fallen off, which may fall in the second week after birth. “It is recommended to stick to sponge baths until the cord falls off, usually between 7-10 days,” pediatrician Dr. Ina Atutubo told SmartParenting.com.ph.
After this first bath, you don’t need to bathe him every day. “It’s recommended that you only bathe your baby thrice a week,” said Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas, a pediatrician from Parkview Children’s Clinic in Makati. “You can, however, wipe down your baby whenever you see the need. Clean the areas that get dirty like the baby’s diaper area, the face, and even the neck,” she added.
Whether you want to bathe your baby in the morning or later in the day is up to you. “Bathing in the afternoon or at night does not really have any correlation with getting sick,” said Dr. Faith Anne Buenaventura-Alcazaren, a pediatrician at the Perpetual Succor Hospital. Colds are caused by viruses, not cold water. Consider instead a time of day when you're not rushed, and your baby is alert.
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What you’ll need
You will always need one hand on your child whether you’re giving him a sponge bath or bathing him in a baby tub. So, prepare everything within reach once before you even take his clothes off. If you forget something or have to leave, take your baby with you.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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- Baby tub
The sturdier, the better. Plastic baby tubs are a common choice. It should be smooth with no sharp edges. Foldable and inflatable ones may be more convenient for storage, but they're more likely to collapse and cause injury, said the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Avoid bath sling accessories as well for this same reason, added the AAP.
- Warm water
Prepare a warm bath for your little one. A good temperature to aim for is around 38°C, according to Mayo Clinic. If you don’t have a bath thermometer handy, use your elbow, which is 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.
- Soap and shamp0o
Dr. Isip Cumpas recommended opting for a gentle cleanser that can be used as both soap and shampoo. “You’re looking for cleansers that are soap-free and less fragrant or fragrant-free. You don’t want the sudsy kind of soap because these can strip the oil from the baby’s skin. Some people think if the cleanser isn’t soapy then it can’t clean. But this isn’t true. These cleansers do the job well, and they keep the skin’s moisture in,” she said.
You can have one soft towel for drying your baby after his bath or prepare two towels if you want to line the tub as well (see how it's done in the how-to video below).
- A washcloth or bath sponge (optional)
- A clean diaper and a change of clothes
- Lotion/moisturizer (optional)
“You actually don’t need it if there’s no drying of the skin,” said Dr. Isip-Cumpas. “Despite the fact that most newborns have dry, peeling skin, most of them, if not all, don’t need moisturizers,” according to HealthyChildren, the parenting resource site of the AAP. If you’re not sure if your baby needs lotion, ask your baby’s pediatrician who will also be able to advise you on what lotion is best.
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How to bathe your baby
Watch how a dad does it in the instructional video below:
1. Once everything is prepared, undress your baby and make sure you're holding her securely.
2. Place your baby gently into the tub feet first.
3. Scoop water with your hands and wet your baby. Scrub her gently with mild soap or cleanser, using a washcloth if you prefer, from head down to the feet.
4. Rinse your baby thoroughly. Carefully lift her out of the tub and wrap her in a soft towel.
5. Dress and finally, kiss your newly-bathed sweet-smelling little one!
Keep in mind
- Don’t forget to wash crevices. “Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck and in the diaper area. Also wash between your baby's fingers and toes,” said Mayo Clinic.
- 5 to 10 minutes is enough for bath time. “Don’t soak your baby in his tub. Just a quick bath is enough and then rinse him right away,” said Dr. Isip-Cumpas.
- If your baby doesn’t like bath time and cries through it, try leaving on his diaper at first, said BabyCenter. “It can give her an increased sense of security in the water.”
- Don’t bathe your baby in an air-conditioned room as a wet baby can get easily chilled.
- Safety is a priority. “A secure hold will help your baby feel comfortable — and stay safe — in the tub,” said Mayo Clinic.
Relish this treasured first moment, mom!
- Baby tub
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