All parents have anxieties over their baby’s first bath. What if soap gets in their eyes? What if the water is too hot or too cold? How do you properly hold onto your wet, slippery little newborn? Despite the anxiety, you can achieve bath-time success on your first attempt — and it starts by taking a few deep breaths.
Here are five tips to help you navigate the murky waters of your baby’s first bath:
- Gather Your Supplies
Your baby’s first bath is usually a sponge bath, meaning you can bathe your baby while they lie on some soft towels on their changing table. You’ll need to get ready two bowls of warm water (one for washing and one for rinsing), as well as several clean washcloths, an empty bowl for the used cloths, mild infant soap, a towel for drying, a fresh nappy and clean clothes.
- Check the Temperature
Babies lose heat faster than older children, so your baby’s first bath should be done in a warm room and with warm water. Before getting started, check the water in the bowls with your elbow. If it feels too hot, give it a few minutes to cool before starting. You can also test it with a thermometer: The ideal bathwater temperature is around 37 – 38˚C.
- Don’t Stress, Keep Calm
Simply staying calm during the process can really help make your baby’s first bath a success. If you’re stressed, your baby will be too. Try to relax, have a nice time, and don’t rush. You won’t hurt the baby. Stay confident and in control, and you’ll conquer bath time in no time.
- Don’t Worry About the Umbilical Cord
One of the biggest reasons that parents are nervous about their baby’s first bath is that they don’t want to disturb their umbilical cord. Think of it as just a scab — sooner or later it will fall off. Though you don’t want to submerge the umbilical cord, wash it gently with soap and water and keep it clean and dry. Use a soft touch to avoid disturbing it, especially when drying your child off.
- Scrub a’ Dub
Because your baby’s first bath is a sponge bath, you’ll have to do all the cleaning by gently scrubbing and rinsing with washcloths (once the umbilical cord stump falls off, your little one will be ready for a full bath in an infant tub). Scrub as gently as possible with a soapy washcloth. Get in all the little nooks and crannies, such as under the chin and between the toes, where things like spit-up and sock lint can build up. Don’t rush, but remember your baby will get cold quickly so don’t prolong the bath either. Follow up with a clean, damp washcloth to remove all the suds before towelling off your baby and dressing them up warmly.
It’s natural to feel anxious about your little one’s first bath — even experts feel a little nervous about this experience. Few newborns enjoy their first bath, but you can make the process as quick and efficient as possible to avoid the drama.