Many young parents are very excited and even a bit scared before bathing newborn baby for the first time. In this article you will find the answers to all questions about bathing, tempering and care of the baby’s skin.
Before I start telling about the right ways of bathing your baby, I would like to give an example of how you should NOT to do it. It’s a life story and absolutely true, my close friend shared it with me.
“At first, the four of us – me, my husband and two grandmothers – we diligently boiling water. About an hour later when the kitchen was like a steam bath the process has come to an end and we began to cool the water. 2 hours later, once the water was of the right temperature, we have finally placed the baby into the tub, having preliminary put a diaper on its bottom that naturally has absorbed half of the water. The “council of elders” decided to pour more water, baby staying in the tub. The added water was hotter and the baby began to resent. Then we were bathing the baby for 2 minutes, the baby was crying hysterically and our four voices were wailing altogether. Then we wrapped the completely exhausted baby in a blanket (so that he wasn’t cold) and started drying his head with a hairdryer (?). And a half-hour cleanup of the bathroom has completed the whole bathing procedure.”
For you not to do such mistakes, I will try to answer any possible questions about bathing newborn babies.
When to bathe the baby?
First of all, let’s define what the very notion “bathing” means. Traditionally, it means that a baby is placed in the tub. However, nowadays there are two types of bathing the baby.
It is recommended to wipe a baby only with a wet sponge right after the birth until the umbilical cord wound heals. From 2-4 weeks of age bathing in a tub is allowed.
Now pediatricians recommend bathing a newborn on the first day at home if the BCG vaccine was made the day before, or the next day if the baby was vaccinated on the day of discharge from the maternity hospital.
How often should you bathe the baby?
To answer this question, you must first understand WHY do you do this? The logical answer is that you bathe your baby for him to be clean. If we consider bathing as strictly hygienic procedure, the international standards for newborns recommend doing it 2-3 times a week, regular washing of course taking place. Newborns do not quickly get dirty, and it is believed that more frequent bathing is inadvisable because it can lead to excessively dry skin.
But many pediatricians and parents prefer to go beyond such an approach. Because the water is an environment he got used to in the womb and it is natural for his development. Therefore it is better to bathe the baby every day – he will only benefit from it! But do not use soap every time, just pure water.
Do not keep your child of any age in a sterile environment: scientific researches show that increased requirements for hygiene and reducing number of children in families have increased asthma and allergies in developed countries.
Where to bathe the baby?
The usual big bathtub is the easiest and safest option for bathing.
Pros of a large bathtub
– There is lots of space in it. The baby can move freely without any risk to get bruise at least up to 4 months of age;
– it cannot tip over or fall down anywhere;
– usually, it is already available at home – there’s no need to buy something and then look for a place for this “something”;
– it’s easy to fill such a bathtub with water and to empty it then.
Cons of a large bath
– All the members of the family bathe in it, and it is necessary to wash it thoroughly every time you want to bathe your baby;
– while bathing the baby you have to bend (you can also get down on your knees or sit down).
If you are still afraid of the tub volume, fill half a bathtub with water or even less. Gradually, increase the amount of water.
Pros of a baby bathtub
– Only the baby will bathe in it, it is better for reasons of hygiene;
– Parents, who have not yet mastered the art of bathing the baby will feel more confident with such a bathtub.
The obvious con of a baby bathtub
– there is lack of space for bathing in it.
Why bathing is useful for babies
• tempering with water is more effective than with air bath (thermal conductivity of water is 30 times higher than that of the air);
• warm water relaxes and calms the child, reduces the increased muscle tone, relieves colic;
When to bathe the baby?
You can bathe the baby at any convenient time. In most families, there is a traditional evening ritual “bathing – feeding – sleep”. Usually babies have a good appetite and sound sleep after bathing. If your child, on the contrary, gets excited, capricious and cannot fall asleep for a long time, try to experiment with the bathing time. Maybe you are the very parent who has got a fan of morning bathing.
What is the duration of bathing?
The duration is determined by the baby’s mood. 3-5 minutes are enough to wash the baby. The rest of the time is for fun and development. 5-10 minutes are for the beginners, 15-20 minutes are for 2 month olds, and it’s impossible to pull a 6 month old baby out of the water even in half an hour.
What temperature of the water is the best for bathing?
The water temperature ranging from 28 to 36 ° C is the most suitable for bathing the baby. Start with the body temperature of 36 ° C. If you have no thermometer, check the temperature of the water with a hand – with an elbow or back of a wrist (at 36 ° C you feel neither warmth nor cold). Water, normal for the hands, will be hot for the baby. Make it a rule to test the water every time before plunging the baby in it.
Gradually reduce the temperature of water – approximately 1° C every fortnight in accordance with the feelings of your child. And for you not to fear the child can be cold I will give you an example from history.
In ancient Russia, when baptizing a baby, they didn’t warm water even in winter (and a baby was baptized on the 8th day after birth as a rule). The baby was being plunged into a pool with well water (often with unmelted ice) for three times. Plunging into the pool with pieces of ice was not only considered to be a safe action, but also a beneficial one to his health.
In other countries women didn’t care of the giving birth process at all. They lived travelling with their husbands and gave birth to their child on their own even in severe frost.
I do not encourage you to experiment with your own child in any way, I just want to emphasize that the body’s defenses in babies are truly incredible.
What you may need during and after bathing:
• a nappy or a towel;
• clean clothes;
• a bath lotion and shampoo;
• a clean diaper;
• a thermometer for water (or just your hand);
• cotton swabs, scissors;
• lotion after bath, oil, talc;
• 3% hydrogen peroxide, brilliant green, wipes in order to treat the umbilical cord wound.
What to add to the water?
You don’t need to boil water for bathing, provided that you use tap water or water from other “trusted” source. However, unless the umbilical cord wound heals, the minimum disinfection is still a must. Traditionally a solution of potassium permanganate is used for this purpose. First, prepare a concentrated solution, filter it through a triple layer of cheesecloth for the crystals didn’t get into the bath, and then add it to the water for bathing until it is of a slightly pink color.
A decoction of chamomile or celandine can be an alternative to potassium permanganate. Keep in mind that potassium permanganate and herbs can cause dry skin – once the crust on the navel has disappeared, you don’t need to add anything to the water at all.
What to wash the baby with?
You need a special cleaner to wash your baby. This can be a gel, foam, or soap – it does not matter, the main thing is that there should be a note on it that it is intended for babies. If your baby has thick hair from birth, you can wash it with a special shampoo for babies. Shampoo with exotic perfume is intended for 2 year olds and older. On the package there must be a mark “without tears” – this means that the shampoo does not contain soap and colorings.
Different kinds of bath sponges are absolutely unnecessary and are optional. Mother’s hands are much more pleasant and effective. But if you really want, buy those sponges that are made from natural materials, are easy to clean and dry quickly.
And the most important thing. You should use the sponges no oftener than 1-2 times a week. The same situation is with hair washing. Pure water should be used the rest of the time.
What to lubricate the skin with after a bath?
Ideally – absolutely nothing. You just need to sop the baby’s skin dry and that’s all. This is the best means to prevent chafing. If that’s not enough, you can lubricate folds with oil (baby or petrolatum) or baby powder (or usual starch). But do not use both them at the same time!
It happens that the skin of healthy babies periodically becomes dry and scaly. The possible reasons is physiological peeling within the 1st month of life, hard water, hot water, unsuitable or frequently used cleaner for washing. In such a situation, you can use baby lotion, milk or low-fat cream.
How to bathe the baby?
• First of all prepare everything you will need for you not to run then around the house carrying the baby trying to find something useful.
• Take off baby’s clothes, wash him a bit under running water if necessary, and plunge him in the tub.
• If you bathe the baby in a large tub, it is just enough to support his head (one hand under his head, the other one is under the chin) so that only baby’s face is over the water (ears are in the water). Young child’s body contains relatively more fat than adult’s one does, accordingly the weight is less and he is more buoyant. Therefore, it’s easier for him to float. In this position, move your baby along the water as if drawing number 8, stimulate him to push off the bathtub walls with his legs; turn him over on his stomach (in this case, support only the head), and repeat the same action. These are basic simple tricks to swim with babies.
• If you bathe the baby in a small tub, hold him so that his head rests on your forearm and keep his armpits with your wrist. You can use a slide (plastic or fabric), which is placed in the tub for easy washing the baby, or just buy an anatomical bath tub.
• Wash your baby starting from the neck and ending with crotch.
• If you plan to wash baby’s hair, do it at the end of bathing.
• After bathing, take the baby out of the water and wrap him in a towel and sop him dry. It is unnecessary to put a hat on his head (“for him not to catch cold”), as well as to dry it with a hairdryer.
How to treat the umbilical cord wound after bathing?
Put a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide directly into the umbilical cord wound, sop it dry with a sterile napkin and treat it with green paint. Repeat the procedure once a day after bathing until the crust disappears.
Can you take a bath together with your baby?
If you are healthy – there are no any contraindications. But if you doubt, it is better for you to be examined by the doctor like before visiting the pool.
You can also breastfeed the baby in the bathroom. Babies usually feel more relaxed and comfortable when being in the water with their mom.
Reminder for young mothers
1. Decide in what tub you’ll wash the baby in. Both adult and baby tub have their own advantages and disadvantages. Remember about the color of the tub, it should be white – so you can see how clean the water is.
2. Do not forget to control the temperature of the water. You can use a special thermometer or just your hand the way described a bit above.
3. If the baby has diaper rash, redness, etc., it is useful to add herbal decoction to the water, chamomile one for example. It is better if you make it on your own and do not use a ready one – it can contain coloring and perfume.
4. You must not bathe the baby right after feeding in any case!
5. Always remember to wash your newborn from top to bottom.
6. While bathing use liquid soap. Make sure that the bath cosmetics are marked “without tears.”
7. Always remember to treat the umbilical cord wound of your little one.
8. It is not recommended to bathe the baby too often and keep him too long in the bathtub.