Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring/Summer Issue 2014 | Splash Out!
Top tips for bathing your newborn
Bath time is a great opportunity for children to relax and you to bond with your baby. However, many new parents get anxious about bathing their newborn.
Bath time is not only about keeping your baby clean – it’s a great opportunity for you to bond with your baby. However, many new parents get anxious about bathing their newborn.
“First time parents especially do worry about bathing their new baby – it is normal to feel that way – but it’s easy to do once you know how,” says Zoe Tompkins, a nursery nurse at The Portland Hospital.
Some newborns immediately love being in warm water, while others take time to get used to the new experience. However, there are simple things you can do to make sure bath time goes swimmingly.
Choosing the right time of day for a bath is key, says Zoe. Don’t bathe your baby after a feed, for instance, as this may make them feel sick. Early evening is ideal, as part of the bedtime routine.
Also be prepared and have everything ready before you start – the towels, a clean nappy and clean clothes to change into after the bath.
“Bathing helps soothe a baby so if you give them a warm bath, then put on their pyjamas and give them a feed, they should have a good chunk of sleep which will give you some time in the evening for yourself,” advises Zoe.
Kneeling or leaning over the side of a big bath with a small baby can be difficult and you have to be careful you don’t hurt your back.
A baby bath can make life easier. There are numerous different types to choose from – some aren’t baths at all but chairs that fit into the normal bath. Select whichever one you feel most comfortable with.
Bath water should be warm but not steaming hot as a baby’s skin is thinner than an adult’s and so they feel the heat more (37 degrees Centigrade is recommended).
It’s also important to have a good hold of your baby as they can slip and wriggle around.
“The best way to hold a baby in the bath is to put your left arm around their back and put your left thumb and finger around the baby’s left arm,” says Zoe.
“That way, their head is supported by your elbow but if they do start to slip at any stage you have something to hold on to.”
For the first six weeks, water alone is enough to clean your baby because their skin is so delicate. After that, you can use soaps or bubbles – but make sure they have minimal additives.
“If a baby has dry skin then just a few drops of pharmaceutical olive oil (available from chemists) in the bath is as good as anything,” advises Zoe.
Once your baby is in the bath, then give them all your attention. Never leave them alone, not even for a second.
“You want to keep it as relaxing as possible for both of you so, if you phone goes for example, ignore it,” says Zoe.
“If you want, you could try putting on some music or even the radio.”
And there’s no reason why you can’t have a bath with your baby.
“I often suggest this – it’s a great way to bond, especially for dads who can sometimes feel a bit left out in the early days,” adds Zoe.
She suggests one person gets into the bath and the other parent hands the baby to them.
When your baby is newborn, it’s best to bath them alone (or with a parent) but once they are able to sit up and are a bit more robust, they can go in with older children.
“Get the older children involved – ask them to get the nappies and towels ready afterwards – often they respond well to this,” says Zoe.
By Lucy Elkins