The first time you have to give your newborn a bath can be intimidating, untested waters, if you will. I have a video of my daughter’s first bath. It shows her concentrating on the new experience with calm wonder. It’s possibly my favorite video but since she is in the buff I won’t post it. To this day she absolutely loves her baths and I think that has a lot to do with the way I introduced her to baths and continue to give them.
This is appropriate after the umbilical cord and/or circumcision has healed. Before that you are only wiping them with warm washcloths. Most older babies grow to love baths but newborns often begin life crying every time they are plopped in water.
I’ve given countless baths to so many newborns over my years as a baby nurse, here are the things I have found that make all the difference.
- TELL THEM WHAT YOU ARE DOING BEFORE DOING IT. I have found always doing this makes any experience better. Babies don’t need to understand what you are saying in order to feel empowered and comforted by you treating them with respect and telling them what’s about to happen. Or if you want to keep it simple – when they get used to hearing you speak before an action they can begin to predict when you speak that something will happen and therefore are less surprised when it does. Don’t we all like to get a heads up when something is about to happen to us. I would be seriously pissed if someone plunked me in a bath without a heads up.
- If there is just one tip you take away with you have this be it! LOWER THEM GENTLY IN THE BATH BOTTOM FIRST. Not lying down but sitting up. Would you want to fall backwards into something new that you can’t see? No of course not. You want to see what’s happening. You want to step in or sit in the water, butt first. Even though at this age you will most likely be using a hammock attachment for your bath ensuring baby is lying backwards, you can still submerge them initially in the water butt first. I’ve never seen anyone jump in a bath on their back. Aside from the fact that it would hurt, we aren’t built for that. As adults we step and lower ourselves in the water.
- DON’T MAKE BABY BATHS TOO COLD. Everyone warns us about having the water too hot. There are built in temperate gauges in many baby baths that you can use as a guide. Just be sure to make it warm enough that you’d be comfortable lying in there for 10 minutes. I’ve often been surprised by how cold mummies make the baths.
- KEEP THE ROOM WARM. Don’t have fans on. Rug them up in warm towels immediately afterwards and don’t rush to get them dressed, let them enjoy being bundled up warm in the towel in your arms for a few minutes.
- KEEP IT QUIET. Baby’s senses are already having a field day with the touch and sound of the water. Let them focus on it and don’t overwhelm them with other sounds like music, visitors or loud conversation.
Baths are a great activity to incorporate into your evening routine. When given the same time every night it helps signal to baby that bedtime is coming and helps to calm them down and get them ready for sleep. It also can help soothe sore or gassy tummies. Also keep in mind the experience of being in warm water is similar to their womb experience so it can be especially comforting.