It’s tough, no doubt about it. Bathing your baby for the first time can make you feel like a nervous wreck. They seem incredibly fragile and small, and it’s tough to know whether they are too warm, too cold or if you’re doing a good job.
Regardless of whether you are on your first baby or not, you are likely to have some unanswered questions around the theme of babies and bathing. That’s why, in today’s guide, we are going to break down everything that you need to know about bathing your baby, so you can become an expert at it in no time.
When should I bathe my baby for the first time?
Research would show that the best time to bathe your baby for the first time is within 24 hours of birth. There are many benefits of this: it aids skin development, moisturises the skin and can help with breastfeeding. Before your child’s umbilical cord falls off, it’s best to stick with regular sponge baths. Dip the sponge in water and gently rub it over the face and head of your baby. If your baby has any circumcisions, you should also use sponge baths. This process should be done usually two or three times a week until their stump comes off.
First three months
During the earliest months of your baby’s life, it is best to bathe them once or twice a week, and after the umbilical stump falls off, you can give them more traditional baths. The best way to go about doing this is to fill the bathtub with warm water and allow them to please around while you wash them with water and gentle baby soap. It’s usually best to start with the head & face, then work your way downwards.
Alternatively, you can always bring your baby with you into the bath or shower although you might want to have a spare set of hands nearby, as it can be very slippery when you are getting out of the shower.
Between 3 – 6 months
At this stage, there is no real need to switch up the routine entirely. Bathing them once or twice per week is plenty, but if they seem to enjoy the water, then you can soak them a little bit more often. This bathing time is also an excellent opportunity to give your baby a little bit of a wipe-down while they have no diaper on, just to ensure they are immaculate.
Between 6 – 12 Months
At this stage, your baby will begin to eat solids. You may, therefore, decide to start bathing more frequently. While there isn’t any real need for more than two baths per week, you can always add in an extra sponge bath to ensure they are still clean. This might be particularly useful when they are eating as things can get messy.
Some parents may discover that baths are a great way to get their little ones to calm down before bedtime. If it works for you, then there’s no problem in making a bath a part of your baby’s bedtime routine.
Why can’t I bathe them every day?
Babies don’t need to be cleaned as often as adults do. They don’t sweat, and for the most part, they don’t get dirty either. On top of that, their skin can be quite sensitive, which means that bathing your little one more often than is needed may do them more harm rather than good.
To avoid conditions such as eczema, wash them with a dye-free soap. Once they are out of the bath, you can use baby moisturiser and begin to dress them. If your little one does show some signs of skin irritation, consult your paediatrician, and they can make a plan for the exact routine you need, so they are comfortable.
What should I do when bathing my baby?
To make sure that you maximise how effectively you are washing your baby, here are a couple of tips to make it a much more effective and gentle procedure.
Generally, it’s best to start washing your baby from the top. This involves pouring a little bit of water over their hair and face (which does make for adorable photos by the way), and you can work your way downward by using soap and water.
When you are washing your baby, always make sure that you can focus on the folds. Almost all babies have folds along their neck, thighs and wrists. When you bathe your child, make sure to pay extra attention to these areas, as they can trap dead skin, bacteria and even milk that they have dribbled.
If your little one seems to be getting bored with bath time, there are many ways in which you can spice it up. Firstly, if you have a portable bathtub for babies, the chances are that it will be a perfect fit for your kitchen sink. This is only OK if they can’t roll around, however, once they are old enough to start moving, you should put them back into the tub.
Of alternatively, to make things a little bit more interesting, you could even try bathing with your little one. If they’re able to take a real bath, consider getting in yourself and then washing them from the tub. If you’re not 100% comfortable with this, then you could always put on a swimsuit too.
Along the same lines, if you have any other children, bathing them all together can be an excellent way for you to save some time and energy. Once they sit comfortably on their own, this is OK, but maybe not any earlier. You’ll want to make sure they are happy in the water before they are jostled, bumped or splashed.
So in conclusion then, it’s usually best to bathe your baby once or twice a week. As you know, they don’t sweat, or gather dirt in the same way that adults do, which means there’s no need to wash them more often than that – it will only do them harm.
But as long as the products you use are gentle and you don’t see any issues in their skin, then you’ve nothing to worry about!