Bathing your newborn
This can be a lovely, relaxing ritual for a baby and special bonding time for you both, though it might feel a bit scary the first time around!
- Wait a day or two before the first bath as babies are born with a protective layer (vernix) that keeps them warm and prevents bacteria from reaching their skin. Try not to wash the vernix off during the bath.
- Many young babies feel vulnerable when they’re suddenly undressed and plunged into warm water, so choose a warm time of day, or heat the room that you’re bathing and dressing your baby in (to about 23 degrees Celsius).
- Make sure baby is not tired or hungry – straight after she’s been fed and winded is idea.
- Always check the water temperature before placing baby in the bath – use your elbow rather than your hand. It should feel warm but not hot – 37°C is perfect. You can get a bath thermometer to tell you the exact temperature if you’re unsure or worried.
- Never leave you baby unattended.
- Have a towel, fresh nappy and some clean clothes ready to put on immediatley afterwards.
- Keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Use the other hand to gently swish the water over your baby without splashing. Use a soft muslin cloth for the face and ears. Be careful of baby’s eyes – a baby cannot blink or produce tears until he is three to six months old.
- It will help your baby to relax if you talk or sing to her while you wash her.
- Afterwards carefully dry little creases and folds with a soft towel. This is also the perfect time to give baby a gentle massage.
- Your baby only needs a bath two or three times a week. This is because babies produce oil to protect the outer layer of their skin and too much bathing will wash it away. On the days you don’t bathe her use a soft, wet cloth to wipe her face, neck, hands and bottom.
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