how to bathe a newborn

How to Bathe a Newborn – Step by Step Guide

You need to learn how to bathe a newborn correctly.  Doing it wrong can result in scalding, infections and injuries.  When a baby is tiny, he can, provided you are careful with taps, be bathed in a washing-up bowl in the kitchen sink, or a hand washbasin. What matters is that the room is warm. The temperature should be about 18-21 deg C (65-70 deg F). A room thermometer will tell you the temperature. It is also a good idea to have one in the baby’s bedroom. What seems warm to an adult can be cold to a baby, and temperature can drop rapidly in the evening.

When bathing your baby, observing him will tell you whether he is happier being bathed before or after a feed. lf Bathed before a feed, he may be hungry and bathed too soon after a feed he may feel sick or resent being kept awake. Often, a bath can soothe a restless baby.Before beginning the bath-time routine, sit down for a few minutes rest, so that you feel calm and confident. Collect everything you need-soap or specially prepared bath liquid, cotton-wool, warm towels, hooded nappy pins, creams, nappy and clean clothes.

Put cold water into the bath, then add hot water. Always make this a practice in order to avoid the possibility of scalding the baby or child. When the water is ready, it will need to be about 29.4 deg C (85 deg F). Test it with your elbow rather than your hand. It should feel comfortably warm.

How to Bathe a Newborn – The Method

how to bathe a newborn

The following method of bathing a baby is good because it introduces a baby to water slowly, and you will not have to cope with the difficulties of an extremely slippery crying infant in the water for too long a period!  This is how to bathe a baby step by step:

  • Undress the baby and lay him wrapped in a warm towel on your lap.
  • Wash his face with water only for the first few weeks, using cotton wool or a muslin square.
  • Wipe from the middle of his face outwards towards the sides.
  • Use a clean piece of damp cotton-wool for each eye.
  • Blot dry with cotton-wool.
  • Then wash the scalp; use soap or shampoo once or twice a week only.
  • Hold the baby over the bath, with your hand at the nape of his neck, supporting his head with your arm under his body.
  • Wet his scalp, including the fontanelle, with your free hand.
  • Thoroughly rinse away all traces of soap or shampoo, and dry his head gently with a soft towel. Next wet and soap his body, neck, arms and legs.
  • Begin with his neck, running a soapy finger in all the creases.
  • Wash under the arms by gently flexing his elbow and moving it backwards, then the groin and thigh.
  • Turn him over and wash his back and bottom.
  • Lift the baby, supporting his head on your wrist and arm, and place him in the water.
  • Continue to support his head on your wrist and hold him securely under the armpit with your hand.
  • Rinse off the water with your free hand.
  • Lift him out of the water on to a towel on your lap and blot him thoroughly dry.

Make sure that all his creases are well-dried, using a second towel if necessary. Dress him in a vest to keep him warm while you put on a new nappy. Talcum powder is not essential. It can, in fact, cause dry skin and may become caked in skin creases and cause irritation. The dry powder may also irritate his nose and throat.

Zinc and castor oil cream can be applied to the nappy area to avoid or ease any soreness. Once your baby can sit up he can be bathed in the family bath. Never leave him alone in a bath, even when he can sit unaided.

Put a towel or non-slip mat in the bottom of the bath to prevent him slipping over. Do not attempt to clean a baby’s nose or ears with an orange stick. The nose is kept clean by sneezing; and wax in the ears will move out to the ear canal. Once it has done so, it can be easily removed. Cut a baby’s nails straight across, with scissors, when he is asleep.

For a baby girl, wash the genitals from the front towards the anus; do not wash inside the vulva. For a baby boy, do not pull back the foreskin when washing the penis. Just wash the genitals gently and dry thoroughly between the folds to prevent any soreness.  It is not difficult to learn how to bathe a newborn. If you just follow these simple steps it will become second nature to you in no time.

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