The day a baby is born, so is a parent. Just as newborn babies open their eyes and take in the world around them for the very first time, their parents are experiencing the world through fresh eyes as well. There are a lot of unknowns and many questions that arise while caring for your newborn - especially when it comes to bathing!
Many first-time parents ask themselves: How often should I bathe my baby? Should I bathe my baby in the sink or a bathtub? And most commonly, when can I bathe my newborn baby?
Before Your Baby’s First Bath
While most parents are eager to give their babies the experience of their very first bath, it is important to ensure that your baby is truly ready. When you first bring your newborn home from the hospital, the stump of their umbilical cord must be kept clean and dry. While it is still attached, sponge baths are the best option for your baby.
Typically, after about 1 to 3 weeks, the umbilical cord stump will dry up and fall off. It is important to continue caring for the umbilical cord until the area completely heals. The ideal way to do this is to moisten one end of a cotton swab with water, gently clean around the base of the umbilical cord stump, and dry with the other side of the cotton swab.
Although moisture and drops of blood around the belly button is normal during this period of time, keeping the area clean and dry will help fight infection and prevent delayed healing. Check out our blog post on bathing a baby with an umbilical cord for more information.
The First Bath
After the umbilical cord stump has dried up, fallen off, and healed completely, you are free to bathe your newborn for the first time! It is best to use the sink or a baby bathtub instead of the regular tub. Our Whale Bubble Bath Inflatable Bath Tub™ is great for littles who can sit. The soft and supportive whale tub turns into a splish-splash ball pit, with 10 floating balls and a jingling tail. It deflates and folds easily, making it perfect for home or travel.
To prepare for bathtime, gather all of your bath supplies so that they are within arms reach while you are bathing your baby. When baby gets older, you will want to have baby bath toys for your little one, too! Sensory Pals™ are fun for bath time, with fun, sensory textures to explore. For now, you will want to have mild soap, a washcloth, and a plastic cup on hand. Also, it is helpful to lay out a towel, a diaper, and a fresh change of clothes.
Bathing Your Newborn
To get started, fill the baby bathtub or sink with just a couple of inches of warm water. Next, bring your baby to the bath area and undress them completely. Slowly place your baby in the bath, feet first, while supporting their head and neck above the water.
Remember to never, ever leave your newborn unattended in the bath - not even for a split second! You can use the plastic cup to pour warm water over the portion of their body that is not fully immersed in water, in order to prevent your baby from getting too cold during the bath.
Use your hand or the washcloth with a tiny amount of mild soap to gently wash your baby’s body. Ensure that their head and neck remain fully supported throughout the duration of the bath. After their whole body has been washed, use the plastic cup to gently rinse off the soap, and wipe your baby down with a clean washcloth.
Finally, slowly lift your baby out of the bath. Make sure to use an abundance of caution, as babies can be very slippery when wet! Wrap your newborn in a towel, and pat to dry. Your baby’s skin may still be peeling from birth, so you can also use a mild lotion before getting them dressed.
The Swaddled Bath
It is important to know that while some babies love bathtime from day one, others may not. It is okay if your baby cries during their first bath, especially because bathing newborns can be done in only a matter of minutes. However, one way to make bath time more enjoyable for the both of you is to give your baby a “Swaddled Developmental Bath.” This is a method that many NICU nurses utilize. It mimics the feeling of being in the womb, which is very soothing for newborns.
During bathtime, babies can be wrapped with a swaddling blanket or a soft cloth in a flexed position, before being placed in the warm bath water. You can bathe your baby using this method by unwrapping a small portion of their body, washing and rinsing it, and then re-wrapping. Your newborn stays swaddled and secured throughout the duration of the bath.
This method is very calming and relaxing for newborns - so much so, that some babies even fall asleep!
No matter what method you use, we hope that your baby’s first bath is both memorable and enjoyable!