Bathing and skin care
What equipment is needed for bathing newborns?
- thick towels or a sponge-type bath cushion
- soft washcloths
- basin or clean sink
- cotton balls
- baby shampoo and baby soap (non-irritating)
- hooded baby towel
- clean diaper and clothing
How to give a sponge bath:
- Make sure the bathing room is warm, without drafts (about 75 degrees F).
- Gather all equipment and supplies in advance.
- Add warm water to a clean sink or basin (warm to the inside of your wrist or between 90 and 100 degrees F.).
- Place baby on a bath cushion or thick towels on a surface that is waist high.
- Keep your baby covered with a towel or blanket.
- NEVER take your hands off your baby, even for a moment. If you have forgotten something, wrap up your baby in a towel and take him/her with you.
- Start with your baby's face - use one moistened, clean cotton ball to wipe each eye, starting at the bridge of the nose then wiping out to the corner of the eye.
- Wash the rest of your baby's face with a soft, moist washcloth without soap.
- Clean the outside folds of the ears with a soft washcloth. Never insert a cotton swab into your baby's ear canal, because of the risk of damage to the ear drum.
- Add a small amount of baby soap to the water or washcloth and gently bathe the rest of your baby from the neck down. Uncover only one area at a time. Rinse with a clean washcloth or a small cup of water. Be sure to avoid getting the umbilical cord wet.
- Wash your baby's head last with a shampoo on a washcloth. Rinse, being careful not to let water run over your baby's face. Holding your baby firmly with your arm under his/her back and your wrist and hand supporting his/her neck, you can use a high faucet to rinse the hair.
- Scrubbing isn't necessary, but most babies enjoy their arms and legs being massaged with gentle strokes during a bath.
- Wrap your baby in a hooded bath towel and cuddle your clean baby close.
- Use a soft baby brush to comb out your baby's hair. DO NOT use a hair dryer on hot to dry a baby's hair because of the risk of burns.
- Expect your baby to cry the first few times you bathe him. Usually, this is just because a bath is a new experience. However, be sure to check that the water isn't too warm or cold or that soap has not gotten in your baby's eyes if your baby suddenly starts crying during a bath.
How to give your newborn a tub bath:
Once your baby's umbilical cord has fallen off and the stump is healed, and after a boy's circumcision has healed, you can give your baby a tub bath. This can be a pleasurable experience for you and your baby. However, some babies may not like to be bathed, especially the first few times. Talk softly or sing and try some bath toys if your baby protests.
What equipment is needed for a tub bath?
- baby bathtub (preferably with a bottom drain plug)
- nonslip mat or pad
- bath thermometer (these often have "safe" bath temperature ranges marked on them)
When bathing your baby in a tub:
- Clear the counter or table top of breakable objects and electrical appliances to prevent injury.
- Fill the tub with warm water, using a bath thermometer.
- Follow the same general bathing instructions for a sponge bath.
- Never take your hands off your baby, or walk away, even for a moment
- Be sure to clean the bathtub after each use.
Providing proper skin care for your newborn:
A baby's soft and delicate skin needs special care. Generally it is best to use products made especially for babies, but your baby's physician can advise you about other products.
- Products for adults may be too harsh for a baby and may contain irritants or allergens.
- Many parents like to use lotions for the sweet baby smell. However, unless your baby's skin is dry, lotions really are not needed.
- Powders should be avoided, unless they are recommended by your baby's physician. Shaking powder into the air releases dust and talc which can make it hard for your baby to breathe.
Many babies have rashes and bumps that are normal. Some rashes may be a sign of a problem or infection. Diaper rash can be irritating to your baby and needs to be treated. If you have concerns about a rash, or your baby is uncomfortable or has a fever, call your baby's physician.
Laundry detergents may cause irritation to a baby's delicate skin. Even if you use a detergent marketed for baby laundry, it is a good idea to rinse the laundry an extra time to remove residues.