There are many developmental milestones that mark your baby’s first year of life, most of which provide the biggest thrills of parenthood, but some that are equally nerve wracking, like bathing your slippery newborn. New parents are faced with questions, like when, how, and where to give the first bath. Cleaning your squirming, slippery, - and sometimes screaming – baby takes practice. It will get easier with time, and you and your baby will soon start looking forward to bath time. You should start by learning the basics:

duckSponge versus bathtub

Until your infant’s umbilical cord stump falls off, it is best to sponge-bath him/her to keep the cord stump dry. This is usually between the first ten days and three weeks from birth. After that, you can introduce your baby to a bathtub. When giving a sponge bath,

  • Lay your little one on a soft, level surface, like on top of a clean towel.
  • Put some warm water in a basin and have a washcloth or sponge handy
  • Keeping your little one warmly wrapped, expose one limb at a time and wash it gently
  • Pat the washed area dry and move on to the next limb/part
  • If the cord stump gets wet, pat it gently with a towel until it dries.

When your baby is ready to use a bathtub, find one with a contoured design or internal sling to keep your baby from sliding. You should never use a bath seat as it can tip over and trap your baby underwater when the suction cups fail.

The right temperature

When using a tub, fill it with a few inches of lukewarm water, and dip your elbow into the water to check its temperature. Place your child in the tub and keep checking the temperature as you go. When it feels too cool, it’s time to take him/her out.

Colorful towelsHow often to bathe

When and how often you should bathe your baby depends entirely on you. Some newborns find baths stimulating, so you should get them splashing in the mornings (probably the first thing). Babies who prefer to mellow out in the tub should be bathed just before bedtime. It is not necessary to wash your newborn every day; two or three times a week is good enough provided you clean their face, neck, diaper area, and hands daily.

The right soap

Use a mild baby wash with water and a washcloth. The right products should not contain any dyes or perfume that can irritate sensitive skin. Work a nice lather into the washcloth before starting, and cradle your baby with one arm while bathing him/her with the other one.

If you want to use shampoo, like when the hair seems dirty, you can put a drop of mild, tear-free shampoo once or twice a week during baths. If there are scaly patches on the scalp, you can loosen them with the shampoo and a soft-bristled baby brush.

In case you missed, the last week's Life Hacks For Parents #4, here's a link!