Prepping your baby’s first at-home bath can be nerve-wracking, but with a bit of insight and planning, you’ll ensure you have all the necessary supplies as well as the confidence needed to make it a success!
Here we have written a step-by-step guide to your baby’s first bath to ease worries and ensure you have the knowledge needed to enjoy this milestone.
This article covers how to give your baby their first bath, supplies needed, tips and tricks, and must-have items to keep tubside for your convenience!
5 Essential First Bath Tips
1. Caring for the Umbilical Cord
It takes approximately one to three weeks for a baby’s umbilical cord stump to fall off. While waiting for that to happen, the belly button area must be kept dry to prevent irritation and infection. The same is true if your son had a circumcision; you will need to keep the wound clean and allow it to dry before placing a new diaper on his bottom.
During the healing process, you will need to give your baby sponge baths, and they should not have their body submerged in water until the umbilical cord has fallen off or the circumcision has healed.
Fill a baby tub with only an inch or two of water, and then use soft baby washcloths or sponges to clean the crevices of their body and their genitals. You could also just strip your baby down and clean them on the changing table using a bowl of warm water and a washcloth.
Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, you can feel free to add more water and allow your baby to splash around!
2. You Need a Baby Tub
Standard bathtubs are too big, hard, and slippery for newborns, so parents typically opt for a smaller, softer tub designed specifically for infants. These tubs can be placed on the counter or kitchen table or sit inside the regular tub.
If you don’t want to purchase a specialized infant tub, here are some other options:
- A large bowl as long as it is slip-free and you can support your baby while they sit in it.
- The sink. Ensure it is sanitized and free of any other objects, and it makes for a great first baby bath!
- A Bath support chair. This is a leaning chair for your little one to sit on while being cleaned.
- A small plastic tub. As long as it fits on the counter and you can support your baby, plastic bins can work great; plus, you can repurpose it later!
3. You Must Maintain Your Baby’s Body Temp
Your baby’s body temperature is one of the essential factors to consider during bath time. Babies can become cold quickly when exposed to water and the outside air for their first few days. This is especially true if your baby is pre-term as they have more difficulty regulating their temperature.
You keep your baby’s bathwater around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the same as the standard body temp. You can use baby bath thermometers and rubber duckies that change color to let you know if the water is too cold, too hot, or just right.
Tips to Keep Your Baby’s Temp Regulated
- Keep your baby in their diaper and wrapped from the shoulders down. Focus on washing the baby’s hair and head first. Once that is complete, gently dry the head. Then, quickly remove the baby’s diaper and blanket to clean the rest of the baby’s body.
- Make sure to clean all crevices and creases, especially around their neck and genitals, as this is where rashes are most prone to develop.
- Place a washcloth or towel over their belly and chest as they sit in the tub. Once the umbilical cord stump and circumcision have healed, you can pour warm water over their belly and chest during bath time to help regulate their temp.
- Make early baths short and sweet. The idea at this point is to get them clean. Once they are older, you can make bath time more of a playful experience.
4. Prepare Your Supplies Ahead of Time
Have everything you will need laying out in advance to help the bathing process go smoothly. You should never leave an infant unattended in a bathtub; it takes less than 2 inches of water to drown.
If you forget something, you will need to take the baby out of the tub to fetch it if no one is around to assist, so it is best to make sure everything is ready before placing your baby in the water.
- Baby tub
- Infant washcloth or sponge
- Baby soap
- Tub thermometer
- Hooded towel
- Infant hairbrush
5. Your Baby May Hate Bath Time
Even if you have done everything in your power to make bath time a smooth, efficient, and luxurious experience, your baby might still dislike it! Not all babies like the sensation of water, and it may surprise and startle them at first.
To help your baby settle, talk to them or sing to keep them engaged. Once bath time is over, give them a baby massage with lotion and wrap them in snuggly pajamas.
As your baby gets older (two to three months), start making bath time part of your bedtime routine, so your baby associates it with sleep.
BONUS TIP! Your newborn does not need to bathe every day! Bathing every day will dry out their delicate skin and hair and potentially lead to other issues such as rashes and eczema.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing newborns every three days. However, you should be cleaning your baby’s diaper area and creases and crevices, especially around their neck, daily.
A Delayed Bath
You may have heard the term delayed bath and wondered what that means exactly. Your baby’s first bath will not be at home but in the hospital. Many hospitals bathe babies shortly after birth; however, new research points out that a delayed bath, which occurs more than 24-hours post-birth, is beneficial.
What is a “delayed bath”?
Delayed baths are steadily rising in popularity: while some people assume that a bath as soon as possible would be ideal, people are learning that the afterbirth that remains on the baby’s skin is very beneficial.
A delayed bath is when you wait at least 24 hours to bathe your baby.
- The familiar smell has been thought to improve baby’s instinct to latch on during breastfeeding
- It helps the baby to fight against infection
- It aids in the regulation of body temperature
- It helps with the mother-child bond and attachment
- It conditions the skin- preventing it from drying out.
Of course, it is up to you whether or not you delay your baby’s first bath, but there is no debating; it stands as a great option to consider!
Your baby’s first bath will come and go before you know it. The most important thing- always- is ensuring your child’s safety. Focus on keeping them warm and secure, and you cannot go wrong. Happy bathing!