How to make bath times an enjoyable experience
Bath time is one of the most enjoyable experiences to have with your baby, and if you plan, your baby will love their bath times. I would recommend that you ensure the room you plan to bath your baby in is warm and that you have everything you need ready in advance, including – your bath filled with warm water, a warm towel, toiletries, clean nappy, and clothes.
To ensure the water used is at the correct temperature (36-38 oC), put cold water in the bath first, and then hot. This reduces the chance of scalds. Test the water with your elbow (as hands can bear very high temperatures) before you put your baby in. It should feel comfortably warm. Your baby will enjoy bath time more if she is not hungry or overtired.
You can either bath your baby in their own baby bath tub or co-bath with your baby in your family bath. Either way try these simple steps to make it a pleasant experience.
Once you are ready;
• Undress your baby on a safe surface.
• Wrap your baby in a warm towel, keeping her head exposed.
• Cradle your baby firmly under your arm- supporting her head.
• Gently wash your baby’s head over the bath by using your free hand to cup the water and apply the water using your hand. Using a pea size amount of mild baby shampoo, gently massage it through and rinse. Be careful not to get the soap/shampoo in your baby's eyes - stinging eyes can put babies off bath time. • Place your baby back on the surface and gently pat dry her hair.
• Lower your baby feet first into the water, supporting her head and neck at all times.
If you choose to co-bath- rest your baby against your chest keeping their head exposed and out of the water and their body submerged in the warm water- just be sure the water is at the safe temperature for them.
• With your free hand, gently splash water over your baby's body.
• Keep talking to your baby for reassurance and to let her know she is safe.
• When you have finished, take your baby out, wrap her in a warm towel and then apply a nappy and dress her.
Please Note- It is not safe to leave a baby or toddler alone in water, not even for a second.
Newborns do not require daily baths because they do not get dirty, and their skin is very delicate. Bathing once a week is more than enough for the first few months to protect your baby’s skin from becoming dry. As your baby gets older however, bath time can become part of your evening routine. Evidence-based guidelines recommend bathing a baby with warm water only for the first two-four weeks of life and the use of creams and lotions for dry skin should be avoided (Walker et al, 2005)
Top and tailing is an alternative to bathing for your very young baby. This is a quick way to cleanse your baby and you can do this once a day.
• Undress your baby but leave the nappy on.
• Wipe your baby's face, neck and ears with some damp cotton wool you have wet in a bowl of warm water, and dry with cotton wool or soft warm towel.
• Cleanse your baby’s eyes using a dampened cotton wool ball dipped in cooled down boiled water-wipe from the inner to the outer eye, and discard the cotton wool-repeat of the other side with a fresh piece of cotton wool.
• Wipe your baby's hands and under her arms in the same way.
• With a newborn, wash any discharge from the cord stump with a dampened cotton wool ball dipped in cooled down boiled water.
• Remove her nappy.
• Wash her bottom and genitals well (wipe girls from front to back to avoid spreading germs from the bottom to the vagina) and dry.
• Put on a clean nappy, and replace your baby's clothes.
Reference Walker, L., Downe, S., Gomez, L. 2005. Skin care in the well term newborn; two systematic reviews. Birth. 32 (3); 224-228.