Let’s talk about bath time with newborns. I know it seems scary with a small slippery little newborn and you think you need an army to help you but I can help. I had two premmie babies – one as little as 1.2kgs so I have some simple tips and tools to put the fun back into bath time for you and your baby.
You can use bath time for more than just an exercise to wash your baby. You can use bath time for play or a morning invigoration but I recommend a bedtime bath routine. The bath ritual can be used to soothe and calm your baby and establish a consistent routine for bedtime each evening –so everyone sleeps better including you.
Preparation is essential
Be ready to enjoy the process of bath time. Like any process having the right tools makes the ritual so much easier.
Ideally your baby should be at an ergonomic height that you can access them comfortably so that you are not bending your back or on your knees – especially those of us who have had caesareans. So look for a bath and stand that is ergonomically designed to put the bath at an optimum height for you to access your baby, whilst your standing comfortably. Bath stands should be stable and not have wheels. Look for a bath stand that balances weight well, as a tall and skinny bath and stand will tip over, easily.
Newborns need to lay back in a bath for ideal comfort so look for a generous size bath that allows you to lay your newborn baby lengthways and not force them to sit upright. As they grow they will start to sit upright, but it is not recommended until much later.
Also make sure your bath has a drain and hose so you don’t have to do any heavy lifting of the bath filled with bath water. If you have a large shower it is a great place to set up your bath and stand (ensuring the area at your feet is dry so you don’t slip) and then you can easily fill and drain your bath in the shower.
Babies can be slippery when wet and covered in a bath oil, so the most important and inexpensive tool to ensure you have in your bath time routine to save your sanity and your back, is a good quality bath support – it will help you to free up one hand for washing your baby. Check out what Zoe Foster Blake used for her bub – Click here.
The plastic bath supports are difficult to use as your baby needs to fit into its contours and often their delicate body parts can be injured on the hard plastic, so find a towelling or mesh option with an angled aluminium frame. This option is also very versatile as it allows you to place your newborn in many different positions, more safely. I loved to place my babies on their tummy, securely cupping their chin with my one hand and then using my free hand to run water down their back (the ultimate vichy shower!). Make sure you don’t have any pillows on your bath support, as they can become a hazard during bath tummy time.
Don’t overfill your bath with water. A rule of thumb is 8-10cm of water is ideal in a standard bath – so only your bub’s lower part of their body is submerged in water.
Your baby’s bath water temperature should be 37-38 degrees celsius. It is important to check this prior to putting your bub in the bath. Use a bath thermometer if you are unsure, so that you do not scald your baby or place them in cold bath.
Babies don’t need a bath wash, as many dermatologists recommend just warm water but it is personal choice if you would like to use a more gentle option for washing your baby, try an approved baby safe oil, as soap can dry out their dedicate skin.
Let the Bath Ritual Begin
To start, undress your baby in a warm room, leaving their nappy on. Wipe their face, starting with their eyes and ears with a damp soft cotton pad – a clean one for each eye and ear so you don’t spread any nasties, like sticky eye. Remove your baby’s nappy and after cleaning their private parts well, gently lower them onto the bath support in the bath. Always ensure your one hand is always cradling their head and neck. This will ensure they are well supported in the bath support. Remember to continue to talk to them soothingly and reassuringly – always maintaining eye contact.
To wash your baby, use a soft face wash and gently start wiping from top to toe and in the creases too! Remember to be especially gentle when you wash their hair and scalp, ensuring you run water back from their head so it doesn’t trickle into their eyes.
Newborn bath time is often quite short as they do not need to be in the bath too long. Once they are done, wrap your baby in a soft towel and whisk them away to a pre set up change table. Gently pat them dry (especially in the folds on their private parts and under their chin). Never rub their skin as you baby’s skin is sensitive and doesn’t need exfoliation. Now is a great time to extend their spa experience with a gentle massage. A massage not only feels fabulous but helps your baby to relax and sleep. There are lots of great baby massage tutorials available online. Dress them comfortably and then continue your bedtime routine – for my bubs it was breastfeeding time and then off to bed.
Don’t forget to drain the water in your bath and rinse your bath support cover, so it is all ready for your next baby spa experience!
What you need:
- Bath and stand at optimal ergonomic height for you.
- Towelling or mesh bath support.
- Bath thermometer.
- Soft face washer.
- Cotton pads.
- Gentle body wash like olive oil (optional).
- Soft small bath towel.
- Change table.
- Change mat
Try these tips during your newborn bath ritual to give you the confidence to bath your baby comfortably and enjoyably.