Bath Time: What You Need and Step by Step How To
I’m going to walk you through our bath routine and what works best for me, change as needed to make it work best for you and your bathroom setup.
First, I gather all the supplies I need and get the bathroom ready, before getting my little one. So, he is happily and safely playing or being watched by Dada while I gather all the things.
We have a space heater in our bathroom, so, I turn that on full blast to get the room toasty. Then, I put the bath support in the tub, a folded towel on the floor for me to kneel on, a washcloth that I’ll use to wash his face, a cup to rinse off the soap, a small scrub brush to gently scrub his scalp, and if he has cradle cap I need a small comb and some olive oil or coconut oil. I also make sure the baby wash is in easy reach. Then, I bring the keekaroo changing pad into the bathroom and place it on the counter across a sink, I place a clean towel on the changing pad to dry him off with.
I also put wipes, butt cream, a fresh diaper, lotion, and a change of clothes on the counter for after his bath. Ok, now I’m ready to turn the water on and get it to the temperature I want, which is pretty warm, not to hot for my wrist, but just a bit cooler than that. I find if I do the water any cooler, it gets cold too fast.
Now, I’m ready for a baby. I double check to make sure I don't have a surprise poop in his diaper, but no worries, because I have all the diaper essentials.
Tip: If baby has diaper cream on his bottom, be sure to wipe this off with wipes before placing him in the bath support. Butt cream by nature is a moisture barrier and is harder to wash off with water. It is easier to wipe off with baby wipes.
I get him undressed on the changing pad that is on the counter in the bathroom. Then, set him gently in the bath support. Then, I plug the tub and let it fill to about his bottom and turn it off.
Tip: I find it helpful to already have the bath running before putting my kiddo in the tub, turning on the water can be loud and scare an infant, but if the sound is already present when they enter the bathroom, they don’t seem to get startled. Plus, I’m trying to expedite the bath so they are warm, and the bath is quick.
Next, I get the wash cloth wet and clean his face in this order: one eye at a time, gently wiping from the inside corner of the eye out, then one nostril at a time, then the top and bottom of the mouth. Note, there is no soap on the washcloth at this point, only water when washing his face.
Then, I work my way out, wiping each cheek, his forehead, chin, and then his ears. I take special care when wiping/washing his ears with the wash cloth, being gentle but thorough, wiping all the little contours of his ears and the back of his ears, especially where the back of the ear meets his head, this is where dead, dry skin likes to accumulate.
This sounds like a long process, but once you bathe your kiddo a handful of times you get quick and efficient. Just be sure to do one side at a time: one eye, one nostril, one cheek, the reason for this is so both eyes or his entire nose is not completely covered, this makes some babies panic and cry.
Notice, I have not gotten him wet yet either, I’ve just cleaned his face. His bottom might be submerged in water, but otherwise he is dry and warm.
Now, he gets wet. I use the cup to get his body wet, but not his hair. I wash his hair last to keep him as warm as possible. Now, I get a couple of pumps of baby wash on my hands and lathered up and begin washing his body, starting at the top with his neck first, being sure to wash any folds in his skin. Then, his arms, taking special care to get any creases around his wrists and arm pits. Then his chest, tummy, and belly button. If you are washing a newborn you will need to take care and not get the umbilical stump wet. (I will cover how to wash a newborn below.) Then I wash his boy parts, legs, feet and toes, being sure to wash any creases in his legs.
Then, I gently lean him forward into a sitting position while supporting him with my right arm across his chest, and I keep a firm grip on him under his armpit, so, if he leans forward or back he won't fall. With my free hand, I get more baby wash and wash his back. Then, I gently lean him back on the bath support. Next, I wash his bottom. You may need to lift him up by his armpits, and scoot his head to the top of the bath support, so, that his bottom is not resting in the seat of the support any more. Then, lift his legs up gently, but firmly grabbing his ankles between your fingers in your left hand, just like you would when changing a diaper. Then, with your free hand, get more baby wash, and then wash the baby's bottom and lower back. Then, gently rest the baby back on the bath support and scoot them down if need be.
I like to rinse off the soap at this point and get some warm water on him. I do a more thorough rinse at the end.
Now, I get his hair wet. One of the nice things about this bath support is that it already has the baby leaning back, so, I can wash his hair without getting soap or water in his eyes. I use the cup to get his hair wet while being careful not to poor the water on his face. Then, I suds up his hair with baby wash. Then, I come back and gently scrub his scalp with the small scrub brush. (If baby has some cradle cap, I'll describe what I do below, because the order of the bath will be a little different.) Then, I rinse the soap out with the cup, and then proceed to rinse all the soap off his body, making sure to rinse off any soap in the folds or creases of skin under his neck, armpits, wrists, and thighs. Then, I sit him up again in the bath support while I have a firm grip on his arm pit again with my arm going across his chest. Then, I rinse off his back. Then, finally I lift him out of the support and sit him up in the tub, I may have to scoot the bath support back and out of the way. I do this to rinse any soap still on his bottom, and when he's older and can sit up on his own, I let him sit up and splash and play for a minute before I get him out.
Now we're done and I lift him out carefully, making sure I have a firm, secure grip under both armpits with both hands. And place him gently on the waiting towel on the changing pad on the bathroom counter. Note: Babies are very slippery when wet. Their skin is super smooth and so take extra care that you have a good grip on them when lifting them out of the tub.
I dry off his bottom first and quickly, then immediately put a diaper on. If I need to put butt cream on, I do that at this point too. It's not fun for baby to poop or pee immediately after their bath without a diaper on. So, mom has to be a ninja until baby is older.
Once the diaper is in place and secure, proceed with drying off the rest of baby. Then apply lotion from head to toe. Then, dress baby. Alright, I think that's it. If you need specific tips for bathing newborns or dealing with cradle cap, read below.
So, with newborns that still have their umbilical stump, the best way to bathe is on the changing pad on the bathroom counter. Get the room warm just like I described and gather all your supplies and fill up a sink with warm water plus an extra washcloth, so two washcloths total. This time you will just use a washcloth to gently wash and rinse baby from head to toe while being careful not to get the umbilical stump wet. I wash his face just with a wet washcloth like I describe above, no soap on his face. When I finish washing his face, I add soap to the washcloth and gently wash his body. Then, I get a clean washcloth and get it wet to rinse/wipe away the soap on his body. Once I have washed baby's body, I dry him off and put on his diaper, then I wash his hair. Newborns are more notorious for pooping/peeing often, so get baby clean, dry, and diapered asap.
I also use the same small scrub brush to wash his hair and get my husband's assistance to rinse his head. While his body is supported on the changing mat, I support his head over the end of the mat where the legs usually go when changing a diaper, and my husband uses a cup to gently pour clean, warm water over his scalp to rinse out the baby wash. Now it's time to dry off baby's head. Then, rub lotion on to baby's skin from head to toe and then dress in comfy clothing.
You will need paper towels, olive oil or coconut oil, and this comb in addition to the regular bath supplies. So, cradle cap is common and is the accumulation of dead skin on baby's scalp, it may look like little scales on baby's scalp. So, before I start washing baby's face or body. I place baby in the bath support in the tub, and then get a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil on my hand and massage it into baby's scalp.
Then, I take this small comb that has little rubber nubs on one side and use this side to gently massage the oil into the scalp again. Then, I bathe baby like normal, allowing the oil to sit and moisturize the scalp. When, I have finished washing baby except for his hair, I gently massage his scalp again with the nub side of the comb.
Then, I gently comb through his hair in the opposite direction of hair growth with the teeth of the comb in gentle contact with his scalp. Do not press down or apply pressure to the comb on baby's scalp. Just gently and slowly comb through baby's hair with the teeth of the comb gently scraping baby's scalp as you go. This will take a few minutes since you will have to take care in being gentle and in order to make sure you comb the whole head. You may need to wipe off any flakes of skin that accumulate on the comb on a paper towel.
Once you have gently scraped/combed baby's scalp, gently wash baby's hair and scalp with baby wash and rinse, and then wash and rinse a second time. Then, remove baby from the bath and dry them off on the changing pad as described above.
If there is a lot of cradle cap on baby's scalp, it may take more than one bath session of oil and combing to get all the cradle cap off, but that's normal. Don't comb or scrape more than I described above in one bath session, so, as not to hurt or irritate the skin on your baby's scalp. Don't increase the number of baths you normally give baby, this will just dry out baby's skin more. Just go through these steps each regular bath time until the cradle cap is gone.
Alright, those are my bath tips. I hope it helps. Please let me know if you have any questions and I would be happy to answer.
One common question may be how often does baby need a bath?
This is a good question. It is honestly up to mom and dad how often baby needs a bath. Our baby's nurse at the hospital recommended every 3-4 days.
For our baby, I bathe him around every 4-7 days now that he is a year old. Now, if he goes outside, gets sweaty, has a pee or poop leak/explosion, then he's getting a bath even if he had a bath yesterday. But if we have been staying clean, I just clean his face and hands with a washcloth after meals, and of course his bottom gets cleaned up every time he has a diaper change.
So, do what works best for you, but if you are highly stressed and sleep deprived and worried, because it's already been 4 days since baby's last bath, skip the bath. It's ok. Get some sleep. Go eat something. Baby will survive without a bath at the scheduled bath day/time. It's ok.
Now, for my three year old, he is a lot more active, and gets a bath every other day. But again, if it has been a hard day, we don't stress ourselves. Skip bath night and go to bed and try again the next day. I hope this helps! You got this Momma!
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