Bathing your baby is not just about getting him clean, it’s a chance to play with him and spend time with him - making it a fun time for both of you. It's also a great opportunity for the baby’s dad to get involved and have hands-on experience. Your newborn may take some time to get used to the idea of bath time and become distressed when all of his clothes are removed. This phase usually passes quite quickly, so don’t worry.
- For the first few weeks, you don't need soap or anything 'cleansing' like baby bath liquid or shampoo as water is just fine. Bath your newborn 2-3 times a week and that should be okay.
- Avoid bathing your newborn in a tub until the cord stump has fallen away and healed. Otherwise giving him a sponge bath is ideal.
- Lay a wet flannel or cloth across your baby's chest to keep him warm.
- If you take your baby into the bath with you then you'll need someone to pass the baby to you, and take him from you when he's finished. It’s always good to have someone around to help you out.
- Talk, sing and play games with your baby, so he learns to enjoy it as a special time with you. Such moments are ideal to bond with your bundle of joy.
- Always check the water temperature by using your wrist, as this is more sensitive to heat than your hand. You could also use a bath thermometer. It's a good idea to fill the bath with cold water first, and then add hot. That way you don't heat up the bottom of the bath and risk burns, and you also avoid the slight chance that you'll put your baby in a bath that's scalding hot (because you forgot to add cold water). Finally run cold water through the tap to ensure that the tap head is cold.
- Hold your baby steady. If your baby is in a conventional bath (not a sit-in tub) support him across his shoulders, so his head is against your forearm. If he's in a tub, hold him under his arms with one arm. That way, you get a spare arm for bathing your baby's body all over.
- If your baby is not enjoying himself and is showing signs of distress, just do the basics and get him out. You can try again in a couple of days; perhaps bathing him at a different time of the day.
- Avoid giving your baby a bath immediately after a feed. Gently massaging while bathing your newborn is a lovely way to get to know his bodily reactions and priceless expressions.
When it’s about cleaning the cord stump:
Your baby's umbilical cord stump dries and drops off within a week to ten days of his birth. You may receive advice from the hospital to clean this area daily or there is another opinion that excessive cleaning of the area is not necessary and simply keeping the area clean and dry is adequate. Just in case you notice any redness, discharge or other signs of infection, ask your doctor for suitable advice.
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