Have you ever wondered how to bathe a newborn? Pregnancy and childbirth are always exciting and presenting new experiences regardless of it being your first time around or adding additional members to a growing brood. The inspiring capabilities of human nature never fail to leave us awestruck, delighted, tantalized, and bewildered even though we've been performing and accomplishing these feats for centuries upon centuries.
Bringing a new, little helpless life into this world fills us with such a sense of responsibility and emotion that possibly renders us irrational and extremely protective. And that's perfectly fine! We're hard-wired with those reactive responses to protect our helpless offspring, keeping them safe, healthy and happy.
So, we will share some exciting tips on how to bathe a newborn the right way.
When Is the Right Time for Baby's First Bath?
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The first step to knowing how to bathe a newborn is knowing when to bathe a newborn. Traditionally, baby's first bath has been given directly after birth in the nursery at the hospital.
However, recent research has suggested that it is better to wait at least 12 hours, if not longer, to give a newborn their first bath. There appear to be many benefits to delaying baby's first bath.
A study published in the December 2013 issue of the journal Breastfeeding Medicine compared the rate of breastfeeding exclusivity between babies that were bathed within approximately 2 hours of birth with those that were bathed 12 hours or more after birth.
The study found that the babies that were bathed more than 12 hours after birth had a statistically significant increase in the odds of breastfeeding initiation, near exclusive breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding. Increased breastfeeding is an excellent way to promote bonding with your newborn.
Decreased Risk of Illness
Newborns get cold easily. Babies are born with a coating on their skin called vernix. This waxy substance helps to keep your baby warm while also protecting him or her from infections. Some parents make a point of rubbing the vernix in rather than washing it off to maximize its benefits.
Cold-induced stress can also lead to low blood sugar because the body has to work harder to keep itself warm. To avoid health issues associated with cold-induced stress studies suggest delaying the baby's first bath.
To avoid infection, you should never bathe your baby in a tub until the umbilical cord has fallen off. Baby boys who have been circumcised should not be immersed in water until after the penis is fully healed. If you need to bathe your baby earlier, we recommend using a soft sponge and warm water to wipe your baby down and then wrap them in a nice warm towel when you're finished.
What Makes Baths for Newborns Different from Older Infants' Baths?
Contrary to traditional wisdom, there is no need to bathe your newborn every day. As long as you're keeping your child's diaper area clean and wiping the nose and mouth frequently, newborns remain relatively clean in comparison to older, more mobile, infants. Pediatricians suggest that bathing your baby two to three times a week, increasing the frequency as they get older.
Your newborn's skin is softer and more sensitive than the skin of an older infant. It is unnecessary to use soap to bathe an infant, but if you choose to make sure that it is mild and gentle. Soap should not be used on boys that have been recently circumcised. Washing in only hard or chlorinated water can cause an infant's skin to dry out, so some parents choose to use baby oil or other moisturizers after the bath.
While older infants are usually placed directly in the bath water, a baby bathtub can be helpful in bathing a newborn. You can place the tub in the larger tub or a sink, and many provide necessary support to your infant's head, allowing you to use both your hands to bathe him or her.
Rather than the splish-splash of a regular bath with an older infant, some parents place a towel over an infant to keep them warm while in the tub. You can dip a soft sponge or washcloth in warm water, lifting the towel to clean up small sections.
How to Give Your Newborn His or Her First Bath Safely and Smoothly
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Giving your newborn their first bath is an exciting moment you'll remember forever, but it can be stressful for first-time parents. The most important thing you can do is to be prepared, so that baby's first bath goes off without a hitch.
The first thing you need to do before giving your baby their first bath is select a location. Many parents put a baby bath in a tub or sink, but it can also be placed on a flat surface like a table, so you're able to stand up to wash your infant. To bathe a newborn properly, it's important that you can comfortably support and move him or her around the tub. Pick the place you think is most comfortable for both of you.
As discussed earlier, newborns are especially sensitive to temperature. Before you undress your baby, you will need to make sure both the air and water temperatures are suitable for them. About 20 minutes before the bath, set the room temperature to 74 or above to avoid chills.
You will also want to make sure the water temperature is not too hot or too cold. The water should be between 90 and 100 degrees. You can adjust your water heater setting, so you ensure that it never runs too hot. Test the water with your wrist or elbow before placing the baby in the bath.
Make sure that everything you will need for the bath is laid out within arms reach before putting your infant in the bath. This is an essential consideration in learning how to bathe a newborn.
A few basic supplies to make sure you have are a stack of soft washcloths, at least two towels (one with a hood), any soap you plan to use, and a cup for rinsing. You may also want an extra towel to place under your infant in the tub to prevent them from slipping.
Q-tips and cotton balls can be used to clean sensitive areas like the eyes and crevices like the outer ears. You should not scrub inside your baby's ear. A soft round brush can be used after the bath to stimulate his or her scalp to prevent cradle cap.
How to Bathe a Newborn Properly
You're all set up and ready to know how to bathe a newborn, so what now? Your first step in going to be to fill the bath with only 2-3 inches of warm water and check the temperature with your wrist or elbow. If you're unsure, you can also use a thermometer.
Undress your infant and carefully place him or her in the tub, supporting their head. Some tubs have head supports, which is great, but if yours doesn't, you can cradle your baby's head with one hand while washing with the other. Some parents prefer to put a towel or warm washcloth over their babies to keep them warm during the bath.
If you are using cotton balls, start by gently cleaning your infant's eyes with a cotton ball dipped in warm water. Q-tips can be used to clean the outer portions of your baby's ears. After that, use a warm washcloth to wash the face first.
If you are using soap, be sure to keep it away from the eyes. Gently wipe the rest of your baby's body with the washcloth, paying close attention to rolls and crevices, and rinse any soap off of him or her.
Some parents choose to use shampoo, and others don't. It's up to you what is best for you and your child. If you use shampoo, you can wrap your newborn in a towel and cradle him or her like a football, leaned back with their head over the tub. Then you can pour water with a cup over their head, gentle add shampoo, and rinse with the cup without soap getting in their eyes.
Next, lay your infant out and dab them dry with the towel. Be sure to dry between rolls and crevices so that the skin doesn't get irritated. Last, if you have a round brush, gently brush your infant's hair to stimulate the scalp and prevent cradle cap.
How to Bathe a Newborn - Conclusion
Becoming a parent is the most exciting and incredible feeling, but it also presents some daunting challenges. Knowing how to bathe a newborn properly can make the experience fun and enjoyable instead of a source of stress.
We know this guide will be beneficial to you, but we also know it takes a village to raise a child, so we encourage you to leave any comments, suggestions or questions in the section below.