Newborns love being all cuddled and cosy, curled up close to mom like they were in the womb, so often their least favourite thing is getting their diaper changed or having a bath, because they feel vulnerable and exposed. They wave their skinny little arms as though they were falling, and look very startled. This means that first baths can be a bit of a scream festival, which is hard on new babies and new mommies and daddies alike. When you’re sleep deprived and your hormones are raging, the last thing you want to do is something you know will set off baby alarm bells.
So how to avoid this? Is there a way to bathe a newborn peacefully? Yes! Please learn from my mistakes, and do it the better way. When I bathed my first daughter, I was so nervous. I didn’t want her to get burned by hot water or drown, so I only put a few inches of lukewarm water in her baby bath tub, and took forever to bathe her with baby soap before rinsing her off. She hated it of course, as she was so cold! I hated it, too! Her crying was making me so upset.
Here are simple steps to a better way:
- Fill the baby bathtub really full, till almost the top.
- Use really warm water. Not actually hot…but much warmer than you would think, remembering that water cools quickly in the small tub.
- Cradle the back of your baby’s head with your right hand, supporting his body with your arm. To make this easier I put our baby bath up on the counter, or you could use a table instead, with a towel under it. Then you don’t have to bend way over, and get a sore back.
- Lay the other arm on top of baby to hold him secure, and if he likes, let him suck in your finger to soothe himself. When I did this last time, my newbie got so relaxed he almost fell asleep!
- Get your spouse or an older child to gently pour a little water over baby’s head (not face) and in those little creases of the neck where milk hides.
- Keep the bath brief, about 5 minutes or so, and don’t bother with soap at first. Newborns smell lovely, and just need a little dip to freshen up every now and then. Bedsides, you are constantly wiping them during diaper changes or cleaning their little faces with a warm cloth, so in my opinion you don’t need to feel pressured to bathe them every day, unless you want to!
- Choose a moment when you are fairly relaxed, and can ignore the phone or other interruptions and just enjoy this cosy moment with your beautiful, precious new mini you!
- Have a cosy towel and blanket ready, and follow the bath with a nice snuggle and some warm milk!