The first time my husband and I gave Abigail a bath, we prepared in advance for the momentous event. We gathered supplies, laid out a new diaper and freshly washed clothes, and set up the camcorder and the camera. We were both a little nervous, but the bath was a success (other than having a tired and slightly-chilled baby by the end of it).
When it was time to give our second child, Jack, his first bath, it was my mom who was there to help me. With two experienced moms giving a newborn his first bath, the event was quite different than it had been with my daughter. We didn't do much advance planning. We quickly drew some warm water in a plastic basin and grabbed the nearest towel (I think it was a clean dish towel!). We never thought to get out the video camera, and snapping a few pictures was almost an afterthought.
Bathing a newborn can be a fun and enjoyable experience, whether you are bathing your firstborn or lastborn. But for a new parent who has never bathed a newborn, it can be a little tricky and anxiety provoking.
What you can do:
- Choose a time of day when your baby is normally calm and well-fed. If this is your baby's first bath, his umbilical cord still likely is attached and you should only be giving him a sponge bath. Make sure that the room is warm and free of drafts.
- Have bathing supplies (a basin of warm water, small washcloth, towel, a few large cotton balls, clean diaper, and clothes) ready and within easy reach.
- Test the bath water to make sure it feels comfortable.
- Undress baby and place him on a flat surface such as the counter next to the sink, the floor, or a changing table. Use a changing pad, blanket, or soft towel to pad the surface. If you're bathing your baby on a counter or changing table, always keep a hand on him for his safety.
- Ensure your baby stays warm through the bath by keeping him wrapped in a towel and only exposing those areas you are washing.
- Working quickly but gently, use one cotton ball dipped in water to swipe each eye from the inside corner of the eye to the outer area. Then use another cotton ball to wash around each ear.
- Use a small washcloth dipped in warm water to clean baby's face, especially around the nose and mouth.
- Continue cleaning baby with the warm washcloth, making sure to wash the genital area and bottom last.
- Talk or sing to your baby throughout the process. If your baby starts to fuss or becomes distressed, you may want to stop bathing him and try again at another time.