Having a new baby in the house can be both exciting and a little overwhelming. Establishing routines for the baby's regular needs will streamline the processes as well as make you feel more confident. Some pediatricians recommend only giving sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off, but by one month of age your baby should be ready for a regular tub bath and you can start to establish bath-time routines that you and your baby will both enjoy.
Decide how often your baby needs a full bath. At one month, most infants do not require a daily bath -- in fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, too-frequent bathing could dry out your baby's delicate skin. As long as you carefully clean your baby at each diaper change, a full bath two or three times a week should be sufficient. Some parents prefer bath time to be a part of the bedtime routine, and others prefer bath time earlier in the day. Either way, stock up on the products and equipment you will need before you get started. Many parents prefer a special, stand-alone tub to save bending over the big bathtub. Lining the kitchen or bathroom sink with a towel also works well for a few weeks while your baby is still small. Babies can get chilled very quickly when they are wet, so close any windows and make sure there are no drafts.
Making the Bath
Fill the tub with no more than two or three inches of warm, not hot, water. Some baby tubs come with built-in thermometers that indicate the ideal temperature. Without one, you can test the water with your wrist or elbow to make sure it's just right. Consider using a supporting frame to help you hold the baby in a reclining position during the bath. Don't use scented soaps or bubble bath -- the strong perfumes are not suitable for infants and can irritate their sensitive skin. Have two towels ready and close to the tub, as well as baby's diaper and clean clothes. Open the cap on the bottle of baby soap, so it's ready when you need it.
During the Bath
Undress your baby near the tub. Cradle her securely in one arm and lower her gently into the water, feet first. Keep one hand securely on your baby at all times. Pour a small amount of soap into your palm and gently soap her head, being very careful so none drips down her face. When rinsing your baby off, hold your hand or a washcloth above her eyebrows to prevent water from dripping into her face -- most infants don't enjoy water in their eyes. Cup your hand and gently splash water over her torso to help keep her warm. Make sure you clean in between all the folds of skin, especially under her chin where milk might have collected. Consider singing to her while you wash -- you'll both find it relaxing.
After the Bath
After your baby is well rinsed off, lift him out of the tub and onto the towel. Hooded towels are available for infants and make it easier to quickly dry their heads. Some parents have a helper toss the towels in the clothes dryer for five minutes to fluff them up and warm them for a particularly cozy experience for their little one. Pat his skin down with the towel; don't rub vigorously. Make sure the baby is thoroughly dry everywhere. Lotions and powders are not necessary for most babies; just get a clean diaper on him and get him dressed. Singing to him or keeping up a steady stream of chatter, telling him what you are doing step-by-step, will help keep him entertained.
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