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Establishing a healthy parent-infant bond is an essential task in the newborn period. For the new mom, a part of this bonding includes breastfeeding your little one. I have addressed breastfeeding techniques in a prior post, including different ways to hold your baby during feeding. Please refer to the article titled Medela Breast Pump [Hospital Grade for Best Performance] for this information. Bath time is also a great way for new fathers to bond with their new babies. Most new parents are a little nervous about the very first bath for their babies, but I want to share a step-by-step technique to help you relax and enjoy bathing a newborn baby, particularly yours!
Before you bathe a newborn baby boy
When you are discharged home from the hospital with your baby boy, you will be given instructions on his care. If your son has been circumcised, you will have to care for that area as well as paying special attention to the dried umbilical cord.
Care of the umbilical cord
Give only sponge baths to your son while the umbilical cord remains. Be careful to not get it wet and keep diaper edges away from the area. You can do this by rolling the top of the diaper in about 1/4th of an inch before fastening. It is highly recommended that you give only sponge baths to your baby until the cord falls off which is approximately 10 to 14 days. Call your healthcare provider if you observe any of the following:
- Bad odor
- The cord does not fall off after 2 weeks
Care of the area can include dipping a cotton swab in alcohol (a 70 percent solution isopropyl alcohol) and cleaning around the base of the cord including the folds of the skin, with every diaper change or the doctor may apply a special ointment on it and you may not have to do anything but keep the diaper folded back and away from the area. Consult your physician on instructions. This is only a general guide. Again, always fold the diaper back below the cord. Do not give tub baths until the cord falls off and the area is well healed.
Care of the circumcision
It is important to watch your baby for warning signs of possible complications. Call your health care provider if your infant experiences any of the following:
- Swelling of the entire penis.
- Bleeds more than tiny drops.
- Shows clear or white drainage.
- Develops a fever; rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher.
For care of the circumcision, apply the diaper loosely. Give sponge baths until healed, clean penis with clear water, and apply either A&D ointment to the area or whatever your healthcare provider recommends. Sometimes they will tell you to use an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or sometimes they might recommend using petroleum jelly. Check with your doctor before applying any ointment and follow the directions given.
Care of the uncircumcised penis
If you decide not to circumcise your baby boy, it is important to note that the foreskin may not be completely retractable until your child reaches preschool age and so it should never be forcibly retracted. To clean the area, simply wash his penis with non-irritating soap and water during each bath.
Bathing a newborn baby girl
If your newborn baby is a girl, you will also be discharged home from the hospital with instructions. These instructions will include the same as for the boy regarding the care of the umbilical cord area. Of course, the rest of the “specialized” instructions for baby boys will not apply for obvious reasons. However, you will be directed to do the following – always clean your infant baby girl’s diaper area from front to back. This is for preventing infections due to feces getting into the vaginal area.
Supplies for baby’s bath
Before you start, gather all the necessary materials you will need for the bath.
Click the links or pictures below to see more and pick one up for your baby today!
The bathtub I recommend is a best-seller on Amazon and is the The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub, Teal for boys
and The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub Pink for girls.
This bathtub for newborns has a net that lies on top which I really like for newborns, as you can lay them on the net with the water just below for easier washing.
When your baby grows a bit, remove the netting and use the tub for the bath. This will accommodate your baby until he or she is about toddler age and you can place this baby tub in your bathtub for easier and safer bathing for your child.
Pictured here is pink for girls. Please note that I have attached the links above for the teal color for boys as well as the pink color for girls.
Gather your supplies together such as baby soap, tear-free baby shampoo, baby washcloth, and hooded towel, undershirt or a onesie, infant gown, socks, receiving blanket and diaper.
Step-by-step bath instructions
After you have gathered all your supplies for your baby’s bath, it is time to fill the baby bath tub with about 3 inches of warm water. Test the water on your wrist to make sure it is not too hot.
I recommend placing the bathtub on your kitchen table after placing a plastic shower curtain liner on it first. The shower-liner on your table will protect its surface from any water that may splash on it. Place your soap, shampoo, wash cloth and towel on the table.
In your nursery, have ready your baby’s diaper, diaper ointment, undershirt or onesie, gown, socks, and receiving blanket on the changing table for after the bath.
Next, undress your baby and wrap a blanket around him (or her) to carry him to the bathtub.
Place your baby on the mesh netting keeping a hold on him with your other hand. Never walk away with your baby in the bathtub and never take your hand from him either.
Wash his face with the plain water. Next, take the wash cloth after dipping it in the water and gently wet your baby’s hair. Then take a little of the shampoo and work a small lather in your hand then gently rubbing your baby’s hair and scalp with your fingertips.
Note: if your baby has a crust on his head, do not scrape his scalp. Talk to your healthcare provider for direction for handling what we call “cradle cap.”
After lathering your baby’s scalp and hair, take the washcloth dipping it in the water, and gently squeeze the water over his head and hair with his head slightly tilted back. This will prevent any water or soap from getting into his eyes or ears.
When his hair is soap-free, take your wash cloth and add a tiny amount of soap on it and gently cleanse baby from the neck down to his toes. Afterward, taking washcloth rinsing in bathwater, and squeezing water over the baby until soap is gone.
Grab your hooded baby bath towel, lay it on the table and gently lay your baby on the towel placing the hooded part over his head and wrapping him in the towel.
Pick your baby up and take him to the nursery to dress him. After laying him on the dressing table, completely dry him off and his head/hair.
I suggest keeping the towel over his body while you diaper him first.
Next, put him in a bodysuit or I like to call them a “onesie”. Place him into the baby gown and put socks on his feet. Please note that newborns do not hold their body heat as well as we do, so it is important that you keep socks on their feet, use undershirts or onesies, socks, and receiving blankets to keep them warm.
Take your receiving blanket and lay it out, with one hand of course as you will be holding your baby with your other arm. The receiving blanket should be facing you in a triangle shape. Place your baby o the blanket with his head just below the “tip of the triangle.”
Bring the bottom of the triangle up with the tip at about the baby’s waist. Bring the right side of the blanket to the left side tucking it under your baby’s body. Next, take the left side of the blanket and wrap it around to the right side.
Your baby should look like a “wrapped burrito” after done.
This is called “swaddling.”
After you do your baby’s first bath, you will be so much more confident when it’s time for the next one. It is a great time for the baby and you to bond and enjoy the bathing experience. Your baby will come to learn to love “bath time” and will look forward to it. As he or she grows older, make sure to include favorite bath toys, there are lots of them on the market. Let him play a few minutes before getting into the business of washing up.
I sure hope this article was helpful to you and alleviated any fears or nervousness about that “first bath.”
Enjoy your baby every minute and remember to take a lot of pictures along the way!
Questions or comments?
Please leave me your questions or comments in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
2 Replies to “Advice for Bathing a Newborn Baby”
This is a great educational article for parents with a newborn. It reminds me of when my wife delivered our first child, I used to help her taking care of the baby and especially on those sleepless nights. This post covers more than expected. I believe that your audience would appreciate all your advice with all details about Bathing a Newborn Baby – Everything you need to know. I’m also very impressed with all the tips you included about how to care for a baby in all types of situations. Awesome job and thank you for sharing. You will make any mother proud.
Thank you Akim! I really appreciate the thoughtful comments and attention to my article. I really aim at trying to be very thorough when explaining any procedure to my readers and I am also available at any time to answer any questions. Thank you again!