What are some tips for baby's first bath? Newborn Care

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newborn baby bath
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After baby's umbilical cord stump falls off, he's cleared for his first official bath. But babies are slippery when wet, and it's not as straightforward as it may seem! Here are some great tips from a pediatrician and from moms who've been there.

Prep In Advance

"Make sure you, the parent, are comfortable; bathing baby in your own bathtub so you're on your knees might not be the best way. Set yourself up for success, which may mean putting a tiny baby bath in the kitchen sink where you can be standing and so you are comfortable first. Have the towel set up right next to you and the soap and washcloth so you can be holding baby with one hand and the things are easy to reach. Know that babies out in world have a protective airway reflex. If baby...

"Make sure you, the parent, are comfortable; bathing baby in your own bathtub so you're on your knees might not be the best way. Set yourself up for success, which may mean putting a tiny baby bath in the kitchen sink where you can be standing and so you are comfortable first. Have the towel set up right next to you and the soap and washcloth so you can be holding baby with one hand and the things are easy to reach. Know that babies out in world have a protective airway reflex. If baby happens to splash, that's okay. If they have a good cough and sputter, that's just the body doing its job -- it's not something to fear. Don't use washes or lotions with any kinds of detergents or perfumes. After the bath, plain old petroleum jelly is your friend." -- Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, Senior Medical Advisor, PM Pediatrics, Lake Success, NY

Boys Require an Extra Washcloth

"Be prepared for a possibility of being peed on! Have an extra washcloth with you to put over a little boy's 'area' just in case."

Warm the Towel

"Cold air after the bath can make baby tense up. If you have a helper, putting a towel in the drier about four minutes before you're ready to get baby out will keep baby calm. We used to set the bottle of lotion in warm water to warm it up as well."

There's No Rush

"There's no perfect time. Wait until you're ready. I waited two weeks because I loved the way he smelled. You can 'sponge bathe' the baby until then."

Keep It Simple & Sweet

"Think minimal. You don't need a lot of water or soap. You don't need toys. A simple washcloth and a small drop of soap is plenty. Most importantly, soak it all in. It's your baby's first bath!

Bathe With the Baby

"Fill your bathtub. Get in the bath yourself. Have a helper bring you the naked baby and hold the baby in the bath! If you are breastfeeding, it's the perfect time to nurse too. My baby loved it!"

Use Teamwork

"Have someone there with you to help out. You have no idea how quickly two hands can become not enough to handle the job when you've never done it before. The moral support doesn't hurt either."

Put a Towel in the Bath

"I wash our baby in the sink lined with a towel so she won't slip down. I put enough water in to cover up to her belly and then lay her in. She loves it, and her sister loved it when she was a baby."

Use the Football Hold

"It can be uncomfortable to wash your baby's hair when they are in the little tub. I wrapped my son in a receiving blanket and held his body like a football in the nook of my arm, his face up, supporting his neck and head with my hand from the bottom. With your free hand, pour on a dab of shampoo and rinse his head right over the bath or sink."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.