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Bathing a newborn can be scary for a new parent! Most parents feel nervous about giving their baby’s first bath at home. While that is certainly understandable, it doesn’t need to be that way! Here are some easy bath tips for baby that will calm your nerves and keep your baby warm and happy during his bath.
3 Easy Bath Tips for Baby
One of the reasons that parents often stress about bathing their newborn is that many babies HATE their bath. The screaming cry of a newborn can be extremely unnerving to new parents… and for good reason! Bath time does not need to be stressful for parents or baby. These easy bath tips for baby can help!
1. Be Prepared for Bath Time
Gather all your supplies before you begin the bath. You don’t want to be leaving baby unattended at any point during the bath. Make sure that everything is within arm’s reach of the bath, so you can keep hands on baby at all times!
Fill the tub or sink with warm water. Many baby experts recommend bath water to be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 degrees Celsius) Always test water with your wrist or elbow. I like to lay my entire forearm under the water to be extra sure.
2. Let’s Keep Baby Warm!
A warm baby is usually a happy baby in the bath. A warm, calming bath can be calming for baby as well, reminding them of their time in the womb. One of the biggest reasons that babies complain when getting a bath is that they get cold! There are several ways to keep baby warm. These easy bath tips for baby will show you how!
Keep the Room Warm
Make sure the air temperature of the room is warm. Consider using a space heater, if not. If you are in the bathroom, you can run the shower beforehand to warm up the room.
Try Skin-to-Skin in the Bathtub!
Many new parents enjoy bathing with their babies. You can take a bath with your baby, laying them skin-to-skin on your chest and covering their body with a small bath towel or bath swaddle. Most babies stop protesting when placed skin-to-skin with Mom!
*Pro-tip: If you have recently delivered, make sure that you have someone nearby to help in case you feel weak or dizzy. It may also be a good idea to have someone around to hand off the baby when you’re ready to get out of the bathtub.
Use a Bath Swaddle!
Did you know that many hospital NICUs use immersion swaddling when bathing babies? That is because it works! Swaddling during bath time not only keeps babies warm and cozy, but also helps them feel safe and secure during their bath.
I like these swaddles because the specially-designed fabric actually holds in baby’s body heat. (Wet cotton or towels get cold really fast.) Since most body heat escapes through the head when wet, you can also very easily wrap it over baby’s head to hold in heat. The fabric in these swaddles is also “grippy” so it’s much easier to handle a wet baby that isn’t slippery!
(**Are you interested in trying the Bath Swaddle? If so, click here and plug in the code HealthyMamaHacks at checkout. As a thank you gift, all my readers will get a FREE Chubber Scrubber with their orders!)
When using a bath swaddle, you can keep most of baby covered at all times while washing him. After washing each area, simply re-cover with the warm swaddle and move on. Swaddling a baby while bathing also prevents the Moro reflex from being triggered and startling him. This, too, helps baby stay calm and happy! Here is one of the happy babies that I was recently bathing with a bath swaddle!
Use a Sponge Bath
You don’t have to give your baby a full bath very often. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t! (source) Another one of my easy bath tips for baby is to bathe your baby less often! It is my opinion that many parents bathe their babies too often. During the early weeks, a sponge bath is recommended to clean baby before the cord stump falls off, anyway.
I prefer sponge baths over full baths for several reasons. Your baby’s skin is very delicate. Over-bathing can strip the skin of natural oils, contributing to dry skin issues and even eczema. Bathing too much also disrupts our skin’s microbiome. There are also many “crunchy” folks who shy away from using soap while bathing. Here’s one such post about that. I personally agree that most of us can avoid using soap most of the time. Here is the soap that I use for babies when needed. 🙂
When giving your baby a sponge bath, remove all his clothing except the diaper. Lay him on a towel placed on a counter, floor or changing table. **Swaddle baby using a bath swaddle or light blanket and wash his face. Then you can focus mainly on the “stinky” areas such as under the chin, neck, inside the hands and finish up with the diaper area.
Wash Baby’s Hair Last
A wet head can be a cold head. Since your baby will lose lots of body heat through his head, it’s best to hold off on washing her hair until last. You also don’t need to wash baby’s hair too often either.
If you notice cradle cap developing on your baby’s head or face, fear not! It’s normal. Check out this post for natural remedies to help get rid of cradle cap naturally.
3. Strategically Plan the Bath Time
Don’t bathe baby when he’s tired or hungry. Feeding your baby first is usually a good idea, too. Most babies are happier in the morning after a good night’s sleep and feeding. Try to find your baby’s “happy time” and squeeze in the bath time then! While many parents bathe their babies as part of an evening bedtime routine, I find that this practice may actually be hard to sustain long-term.
When establishing a bedtime routine for your baby early on, consider how sustainable your routine really is. Babies love routine and a bedtime routine is a good idea to help form sleep associations, but do you really want to get your baby dependent on a nightly bath before he falls asleep each night? Just something to consider…
For more tips about sleep associations and easy newborn bedtime routines, check out my new eBook about newborn and new parent sleep. You can find it here.
**Are you interested in trying the Bath Swaddles? If so, click here and plug in the code HealthyMamaHacks at checkout. As a thank you gift, all my readers will get a FREE Chubber Scrubber with their orders!
Do you have any other easy bath tips for baby that help keep bath time stress-free? I’d love to hear your ideas! It helps new moms when experienced moms share their tips. Thanks for sharing!