Newborn babies don’t really get that dirty. You’ll need to take care of the umbilical cord area until the ‘tag’ drops off, of course, but they don’t need a bath every day. Unless you want to – because baby’s bath time is a special moment for many parents.
Why bath time is good for your baby
1It’s a great bonding experience
When you bath your baby, you give them all your attention. Washing them, playing with the bubbles, singing a song – it’s time for just the two of you. It strengthens the love between you and is a relaxed, happy experience. Small wonder baby’s bathtime is the highlight of the day for so many parents – and their little ones.
2It’s a chance to learn
Your baby will experience all kinds of new sensations. Trickle water down their back or show them how the droplets glitter in the light. Let them see how much fun it is to kick and splash. As you wash your baby, give a running commentary on what you’re doing. Name objects and body-parts – it will help them as they learn words in the future.
3It helps them settle
Sometimes, babies get fractious. They can spend all day fretting and fussing. An evening bath can go a long way to settling them down. If it’s part of their regular bedtime routine, they come to know that afterwards it’s a time to be calm and relaxed.
Some tips to make it easier
You might think it should be simple, but you’d be forgiven for wishing you had an extra pair of hands when bathing your baby. Here are some ways you can make it easier.
4Get everything ready first
Sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t be the first new parent who suddenly realises they’ve left the towel in the bedroom or the shampoo out of reach. To begin with, you might want a checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need close to hand first; under no circumstances should you ever leave your baby alone in water, even for a second.
Don’t forget baby bath and shampoo, at least one sponge or washcloth, cotton wool for eyes and ears, and a soft, fluffy towel. Depending on your set-up, you might also need a clean nappy (diaper), sleepsuit, nappy cream and baby powder.
5Keep it cosy
Remember that babies get cold quickly. Make sure the water is a comfortable temperature – test it with the more sensitive skin on your elbow or inside of the wrist. You should also ensure the room where you’re bathing your baby is warm, too. As soon as you take your child out of the water, wrap them in a towel so they don’t lose too much body heat.
6Bath time doesn’t have to mean a bath
When they’re tiny, bathing a baby can be difficult – even in a special baby tub. Perhaps you’re struggling to find a surface the right height, or find stooping over the adult bath uncomfortable. If that’s the case, adapt. The kitchen sink is often the perfect height for you and the right size for a baby in the early months – we’re speaking from experience.
7Mind their eyes
Many babies dislike water running over their faces to start with, which can make hair-washing difficult. It can also make bath time somewhat traumatic. There are many hair-washing shields around, some even with ear-guards, which will make the process easier.
8Establish a routine – but don’t get fixated
A regular bath time routine helps set your baby’s body-clock – which is why a bedtime bath is so popular. It might be, though, that another time of day works best for you. Perhaps you’ll prefer to bath every other day.
Whatever you decide, the world doesn’t have to revolve around your routine. If you’re having a night out, it won’t hurt to bring bath time forward. If your baby has a stomach upset, give it a miss entirely. If they’re really hungry, feed now and bath later.
9Don’t worry if it takes a while
Not all babies love bath time, and especially not straight away. Don’t force it. Stick to sponge-baths for a few days, then try again. Eventually your baby will understand what’s going on and learn how much fun bath time can be. Then, the problem will be getting them out of it…