Your baby's first bath is an exciting milestone, but handling a tiny slippery-when-wet body in water can be a little nerve-wracking. But with all that said, your baby’s first bath is still a very joy-filled experience.
Once you’ve picked a place and time to give your newborn her baths, read over this list of tips that’ll make the whole process a little easier and safer:
- Establish a routine. Your baby’s bathtime routine will help set her body clock, especially if you do it in the evening ("Mommy or Daddy is giving me a bath — that means it's almost time for bed"). Reinforce the sleepy-time message by dimming the lights and keeping the noise and activity down after the bath is over. Of course, it’s fine if another time of day works better for you and your baby.
- Be prepared. Have everything on hand since you can never leave your baby in the bath (and it’s no fun searching for what you need with a wet, naked infant in tow). The essentials include baby washand shampoo, cotton washcloths, cotton balls, a plush towel or two, and a plastic basin. You may also want a new diaper, a set of clean clothes and baby bum balm and Baby Lotion for after the bath.
- Stay warm. Babies lose body heat very quickly — especially when they're naked — so make sure the room is warm enough, aiming for a room temperature of about 75 to 80 degrees. (A bathroom can be quickly warmed up with shower steam if necessary.) You can put a warm washcloth on your baby's exposed parts like her tummy to keep her from getting cold. Whether you're using an infant tub or a sink, fill it first with just enough water to cover the bottom of her body, about 2 inches of water. Never put a baby in the tub while the water is still running. The water temperature should be warm (not hot), so test it with your elbow or the inside of your wrist, since those areas are more sensitive than your fingertips. Turn the cold water on first and turn it off last to avoid burning your child.
- Hold tight. Gently slide your baby into the tub, feet first, holding her securely with one of your arms under her head (use your hand to grasp her underarm farthest away from you) and the other supporting her bottom. She may be as slippery as a fish, but you'll soon get the hang of how to hang on to her. Once she's in, avoid letting her sit for too long in water — it can irritate baby's skin.
- Soap time. Yup, you do use soap for a newborn sponge bath, but pick a mild one, like our Timi&Mila Body Wash and Shampoo, and focus on her hands, neck and diaper area when you're bathing. You can just use water on the rest of her body most days, unless she's really dirty.
- Face First. Dip a corner of a washcloth or cotton ball in the warm water, and gently wipe one eye from the inner corner outward and then use a different corner or a clean cotton ball for the other eye. Wet the washcloth entirely and wash her face (a bit of soap is fine here), especially around the mouth and under the chin where milk and drool can pool, and inside and behind her ears.
- Now for the rest of the body. Dip the washcloth in warm water and wash your little one's neck and torso. Maneuver carefully around the umbilical cord if there's still a stump; it's okay to gently wipe away any crustiness around it. Next, clean under her arms and between her fingers. Be sure to get into those little creases and skin folds.
- Always gentle Use a soft, clean cloth, gentle soap, and lukewarm water to clean your baby's genitals. Have a girl? Wash the area from front to back, and don't forget to gently wipe between skin folds. Next up: that tiny little bottom (use a little soap).
- Use a natural mild baby Shampoo, like Timi&Mila. If, of course, she has any hair. If she doesn't, wipe her head with a washcloth. Using water and a tiny bit of shampoo, lather your baby's scalp. Massage it with the pads of your fingers, including the area over the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of the head. Don't worry — you won't poke through — just be gentle and it'll be fine. If your baby develops cradle cap, we recommend rubbing a little oil or a bit of Rescue Balm on baby’s head before bathtime (to help lift the crusts and loosen any scales) and then gently wiping it off with a soft washcloth.