The baby’s bath can be a pleasant moment, but many parents feel insecure to perform this practice, which is normal, especially in the first days for fear of hurting or not giving the bath the right way.
Some care is very important for the bath, among them, do it in a place with adequate temperature, use a bathtub according to the baby’s size, use proper products for babies, do not give bath right after feeding him/her, among others. It is still up to the parents to decide how often to bathe the baby, but it is not necessary to bathe every day. Every other day is enough because the excess of water and the products used may cause skin problems such as irritation and allergies.
Before starting to give a bath, it is important to choose a place with a warm temperature between 22ºC and 25ºC, gather the products that will be used, leave the towel, nappy and clothes ready, as well as the water in the bathtub, which must be between 36ºC and 37ºC. As the baby loses a lot of heat at this moment, the bath should not take longer than 10 minutes.
1 – Wiping baby’s face
While the baby is still dressed, to prevent loss of body heat, the face should be cleaned, as well as around the ears and neck creases, which can be done with cotton wool or cloth soaked in warm water.
Never use cotton buds to clean the ears, as there is a risk of perforating the baby’s ear. Also, a gauze dampened with saline solution may be used to clean the baby’s nostrils, a very important action in order not to impair breathing. Finally, the eyes must also be cleaned with a damp cloth and the movements must always be in the direction nose-ear to avoid the accumulation of dirt and eye drops.
2 – Washing the head
The baby’s head can also be washed while still dressed, it is appropriate to hold the body with the forearm and the baby’s armpit with the hand. The child’s head should be washed first with clean water and then products such as soap or shampoo suitable for babies can be used and the hair can be massaged with the fingertips.
At this stage of the bath it is necessary to be very careful because the baby’s head has soft areas, the fontanelles, which must close by the age of 18 months and therefore one must not squeeze or put pressure on the head in order not to hurt it. However, you must wash it well with movements from front to back, taking care to prevent the foam and water from entering the ears and eyes and then dry it well with a towel.
3 – Cleaning the intimate area
After washing the baby’s face and head, you can undress him and, when removing the nappy, wipe his private area with a wet cloth before putting him in the bathtub so that the water does not get dirty.
4 – Washing the baby’s body
When putting the baby in the water, do not put the whole body in the water at once, but put it in parts, starting with the feet and supporting the head on the forearm and with this hand holding the baby’s armpit.
With the baby already in the water, you must go on soaping and rinsing the baby’s body thoroughly, cleaning the folds on the thighs, neck and wrists and not forgetting to clean the hands and feet, since babies love to put these parts in their mouths.
The intimate area should be left for the end of the bath, and for girls, it is important to be careful to always clean from front to back so as not to contaminate the vagina with faeces. As for boys, it is necessary to always keep the area around the testicles and under the penis clean.
5 – Drying the baby’s body
After you finish rinsing the baby, take him out of the bathtub and lay him down on a dry towel, wrapping the baby so that he does not get wet out of the water. Then, use the towel to dry all parts of the baby’s body, not forgetting the hands, feet, and folds, because if humidity accumulates, wounds may appear in these areas.
6 – Drying the intimate area
After drying the whole body, you must dry the intimate region and check whether there are any rashes, a common complication in babies. When the baby is clean and dry, you must put on a clean nappy so that he/she does not get the towel dirty.
7 – Apply moisturizer and dress the baby
As the baby’s skin is drier, mainly in the first weeks of life, moisturizing is essential and it can be done with ointments, oils, creams and lotions suitable for babies, and the ideal moment for its application is after the bath.
To apply moisturizer, you must start with the baby’s chest and arms and put on the clothes from above, then apply moisturizer on the baby’s legs and put on the bottom part of the baby’s clothes. It is important to pay attention to the aspects of the baby’s skin and if it presents alterations in colour or texture, because it may mean allergy problems. Finally, the hair can be combed, the need for nail clippings checked and socks and shoes put on if the baby can already walk.
How to prepare the baby’s bath?
The place and the material should be prepared before the bath to avoid loss of heat from the baby and also to prevent the child from being alone in the water during the bath. To prepare the bath, you should
- Keep the temperature between 22 ºC and 25 ºC and no drafts;
- Gather the bath products, which are not necessary, but if you choose to use them, they must be baby products with neutral pH, soft and without perfume and must only be used on the baby’s dirtiest parts. Before the age of 6 months, the same product used to wash the body can be used to wash the hair, so shampoo is not necessary;
- Prepare the baby towel, nappy and clothes in the order they will be put on so that the baby does not get cold;
- Put a maximum of 10 cm of water in the bath or bucket, putting cold water in first and then hot water until it reaches a temperature between 36 and 37 ºC. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your elbow to check if the water is pleasant.
A plastic bathtub or Shantala bucket with a capacity for the baby’s size should be used, besides being in a place comfortable for the parents. Another point to be observed is the products to be used in the bath, which must be appropriate for the baby, since the baby is more sensitive, especially in the first weeks of life, and certain products may cause irritation to the eyes and skin.
How to give a sponge bath to the baby?
In the first weeks of life, before the baby’s umbilical cord falls off, or even when you want to wash a part of the baby without getting it wet, a sponge bath may be a great alternative.
This practice must also be performed in a warm place and before starting the bath all the material must be gathered, clothes, towels, nappy, baby soap, and a container with warm water, initially without soap. On a flat surface, still wearing clothes or wrapped in a towel, the ideal is to clean the baby’s face, around the ears, chin, neck folds, and eyes with a towel wet only with water so as not to irritate the skin.
When undressing the baby, it is important to keep him warm and you can place a towel over him while you clean his body. Start at the top and work your way down, not forgetting the hands and feet, and carefully clean around the umbilical stump to keep it dry. After that, a little soap can be put in the water to wet the towel and clean the genital area. Finally, dry the baby, put on a clean nappy, and put on his clothes.
How to keep safe at bath time?
To ensure safety at bath time, the baby should be supervised at all times in the water and should never be left alone in the bathtub, as he or she may drown in less than 30 seconds and with little water. In the case of older babies, it is advised not to fill the bathtub above waist level of the seated child.
Besides, there are many parents who like to take a bath with their children or who want to try this experience. However, you must be very careful because this practice may not be so safe as there are risks such as falling with the baby in your lap, and the products the adult uses in the bath may irritate the baby’s skin or eyes. However, if parents want to perform this practice, some safety measures should be implemented, such as placing a sticky mat in the bathroom and using a sling so that the baby stays attached to the adult, besides opting to use the baby’s own products.