You may give your newborn his first daily sponge bath when e is a few days old. It is best to bathe a very young infant before his morning feeding. As he grows older and becomes more active, you may wish to switch his bath time to the late afternoon. Never leave the baby alone in his bath. Be sure the room in which you bathe the baby is warm and free from drafts. Your hands and fingernails should be washed thoroughly before you begin. You may want to have an extra towel on hand to keep yourself dry.
The following items should be ready:
- Basin of warm (not hot) water
- Large bath towel
- Soft washcloth
- Mild baby soap
- Baby shampoo (if desired)
- Sterile cotton balls or swabs
- Baby lotion or oil
- Baby powder
- Clean diaper or clothing
- Large pins or diaper pins
A sponge bath may be preferable to tub bathing during the baby's first few weeks. This time allows for the healing of your baby's navel, which at birth may have the remains of the umbilical cord attached to it. Withing the first few weeks following birth any remnant if the cord will wither and become detached. The navel will be raw and tender and should consequently be kept as dry as possible to encourage scab formation and healing. Complete healing usually takes a few weeks.
The sponge bath will also give you the confidence you need to handle and maneuver your baby comfortably and effectively. Place your infant on a table covered with a large towel or pad. Never leave him alone on a table or high surface. Remove his clothing or diaper and cleanse his genital area carefully. If your baby boy is circumcised, his penis should be protected with petroleum jelly and a gauze bandage until the wound has completely healed (usually within a week or two).
Cover the baby with a large towel. Clean his nose and outer ears with a dampened cotton ball or swab, never inserting its tip farther than you can see. Wash his face with a soft washcloth and clear water. Avoid using soap on a baby's face for the first three months. Wipe each eyelid with sterilized cotton, moving from the inside corner outwards. Clean the outside of his mouth thoroughly but avoid washing the inside. Pat his face dry.
With your arm under the baby's back and your hand supporting his head, you can wash his scalp using very mild soap and water or baby shampoo. Lather his head using gentle circular motions. His head should be held back to prevent soap and water from dripping down his face or into his eyes. Rinse the baby's scalp with clear water.
Giving your infant a tub bath can be quite an adventure for a new parent. Your doctor will advise you as to when you may begin tub bathing your child.
The bath can be given in a basin, tub, baby bath, or even the kitchen sink. Have available all the necessary articles that were required for a sponge bath. Fill the tub or basin with about three inches (8 cm) of warm water. Test its temperature using your elbow to make sure it is not too hot. A rubber mat or towel may be placed on the bottom of the tub to prevent the baby from slipping.
At first, you may want to wash the baby's face and head as you would during a sponge bath. Then lower him into the tub, supporting his head and back with one arm and his buttocks with the other. As you gain experience or when your child is old enough to sit up, it may be simpler to wash his face and scalp while he sits in the tub. Soap and rinse the front of his body thoroughly, all the while supporting his back firmly. Then, shifting his weight forward and supporting him under the chin with one hand, you can wash and rinse his back. Pay special attention to the creases and folds of his skin.
When you are finished, lift the baby carefully onto a table, again supporting his head and back with one hand and his buttocks with the other. Dry him thoroughly and apply lotion and a light dusting of powder to those parts of his body most subject to chafing and irritation, especially his thighs and buttocks.
DressingYou may find that dressing your baby is not the easiest job in the world. Most infants, when being changed, will attempt to roll over, twist around or put up some sort of struggle. It may be helpful to distract your baby with a favorite toy or plaything while you dress him, using this time as a play period