Parents usually first encounter baby-specific equipment as they prepare for their new baby’s birth.
In the United States most hospitals won’t allow you to leave unless your baby is strapped into a car seat, for safety.
Another issue new parents worry about is how to bathe their newborn … every parent worries about their baby’s first bath: What temperature should the water be? Should I use soap? If so, what kind? Should I use shampoo? Should I bathe my baby in my own bathtub, the sink, or something else? In short: How do I give my baby’s first bath? This post will give you the guidance to safely and confidently give your baby’s first bath.
Get Yourself Ready
First things First. Take three deep breaths. Get in to the right frame of mind, let go of everything else you ‘need’ to do and come in to the present moment by noticing in detail what is right here and right now.
Create a bath ritual: Music is a nice way to create a good atmosphere for bathing. You can use different types of music for different times of the day or for your different moods. If it is nighttime, and a bath is part of your bedtime routine you may want to play calm quiet music or lullabies. If it is in the morning play fun, upbeat music and nursery rhymes your baby can learn the words to. When my babies were little I bathed them in the morning because bathing always woke them up. We used to sing and dance during bath time. It made us feel good and we had fun as we strengthened our bond together.
Get Organized for Baby’s First Bath
Prepare everything you will need for the baby’s first bath before you start. Have everything you need within easy reach so you do not have to turn away from your baby.
Make sure the area is warm enough and that there is no breeze or wind coming through the area which will give your baby a chill.
The best temperature for the room during a bath is around 72°F (68-72°F or 20-22.2°C) or a little warmer just during bath time.
Other Things You’ll Need for Baby’s First Bath
All humans – especially babies – absorb chemicals through their skin. Babies have a very large surface area of skin compared to their body size, so they are extra sensitive to what you put on their skin. They absorb potential toxins through their ski easily which is why you may have noticed that many skin products are NOT approved for babies less than six months old.
Soaps and Shampoos
Have soap and shampoo ready for your baby’s first bath. Use soaps with no color or fragrance and that are chemical free when possible.
Avoid the Endocrine-Disruptors
Look for soaps, shampoos and lotions that are Phthalate- and Paraben-free.
Phthalates and Parabens, are chemicals that are known as “endocrine-disruptors” – they interfere with normal hormone production and action in your baby’s body , they also are associated with causing certain types of cancer as well as causing allergies and asthma. So the less exposure your baby has to these chemicals the better.
Read more about Phthalate Exposure and Children’s Health and Neonates exposure
Shopping for Your Baby’s First Bath
Look for organic, all-natural soaps and shampoos, because they are naturally free of these types of chemicals. Babies have very sensitive skin which gets irritated easily; fragrance and color can irritate your baby’s skin and cause rashes so make an effort to buy fragrance free and dye free products at least until your baby is 6 months old. Olive oil soap is a great product.
Organic and all natural soaps are good alternatives to the chemical products but avoid products containing essential oils because they too may irritate your baby’s delicate skin.
Please never use essential oils directly on your newborn’s skin because they are absorbed through her skin into the blood stream and may cause unwanted effects. There have not been any large studies on the safety of using essential oils on babies’ skin. If you want to use lavender oil for its calming effects, place some in the room near your baby and not on the skin.
Other Items for Baby’s First Bath
- A clean soft washcloth or two.
- A clean basin for bathing your baby that has a textured surface where you can lie baby as you wet her. You do not want to put your baby’s tummy in water until her belly button stump falls off.
- A clean, soft ,and warm towel to dry her after her bath.
- A cap ready for your baby’s head when she is very young to keep her head warm until you dry her. Very young babies have large heads compared to the rest of their body and the evaporation of bath water off the baby’s head could actually lower his/her temperature and cause a cold stress response.
Let’s Start giving Your Baby’s First Bath
- Once you and all the items you need are ready, ill the tub with clean warm water, not too hot or too cool, before you put your baby in the basin.
- Gently place your baby in the tub on her back and cover her body with a towel so she doesn’t get cold.
- Wet a washcloth in the clean warm water.
- Apply a small amount of soap to the cloth and gently uncover the area you are about to clean and rub baby’s skin with the cloth. Focus especially on the following areas because they tend to get the dirtiest in babies:
- Focus especially on the following areas because they tend to get the dirtiest in babies:
- In her neck folds where milk tends to drip during a feed and where sweat tends to accumulate.
- Her underarms.
- The diaper area and the cleft between her buttocks in the back.
- Your baby’s back. She lies on her back a lot and sweat accumulates there.
- Make sure to talk to your baby as you bathe her and make eye contact. Tell her what you are about to do and make fun noises. This will make her feel more secure and will strengthen your bond together. When you are done with her front side pick your baby up and gently but firmly turn her over and rest her body on your forearm, with her head turned to one side and cradled gently in your palm as you clean her back.
- Focus especially on the following areas because they tend to get the dirtiest in babies:
- After washing your baby with the soapy cloth, rinse the soap off the cloth thoroughly or use a clean one to rinse your baby off. Wet the cloth with some clean warm water and quickly rinse the soap off of your baby’s body. Cover up the areas as you get done with them.
- To wash your baby’s hair and scalp:
- Use organic chemical free shampoo if possible.
- Hold your baby’s head in the palm of your hand.
- Put a small amount of shampoo on her scalp and gently rub it in.
- Rinse her scalp off. There are two ways you can do this:
- Use a clean wet washcloth to rinse the shampoo out of her hair and scalp. Or,
- Take a small container, plastic cup or Tupperware and gently pour some water back over her upper forehead and scalp to rinse the shampoo off without it getting into her eyes.
A Note About Fontanelle Fear
When you are washing your baby’s hair do not be afraid of the soft spot, the fontanelle. Gently wash the area over it and rinse it off like you would any area of her scalp.
After your baby is all washed and rinsed
- Wrap her in a clean, dry towel covering her head with the corner of the towel or with a cap.
- Put her on a safe surface that she cannot fall off of and gently pat her dry her with the towel.
- Talk to her as you dry her, touch her gently and let her know what you are doing. This will not only make her feel better and more secure but will teach her about communication and talking. Make eye contact and play little games with her as she gets older.
- If you want to use lotion on your baby’s skin, please use paraben, phthalate free lotions that are also fragrance and dye free. Just because the bottle or tube says the lotion is hypoallergenic does not mean that it does not contain chemicals that may irritate your baby’s skin, so become a label reader.
- Last but not least, put your squeaky-clean baby in a clean diaper and some clean clothes and give her a big hug.
Note: Skin Lotions
Organic lotions have fewer chemicals than non-organic, so use those when you can.
In fact, I recommend using products that only have a few ingredients and ingredients that you can actually read and recognize!
If you do not want to use any synthetic lotion on your baby, you may want to try using olive oil or organic coconut oil on the driest parts your baby’s skin. These are all natural and only have one ingredient. Despite this, your baby could still have a reaction to these so you want to do a skin test before using them on your baby’s skin.
While you are rubbing the lotion on your baby’s body talk to her gently, sing her a song, do a baby massage on her ,or just be completely present with your baby.
Note: Baby Powder
Talcum powder may contain asbestos that can cause lung cancer. There are talcum-free powders but even these can cause irritation of the lungs and breathing problems for both you and your baby. So please be careful.
Since baby powder does not have any real benefits for your baby and may have serious side effects on your baby’s breathing if they are inhaled, I recommend avoiding all powders completely (including cornstarch).
If you really want to use baby powder here are some general rules:
- Avoid powders like cornstarch or talcum powders because your baby or you could inhale them by accident. These powders can injure the lungs.
- Avoid powders that contain Baking soda or Boric acid because these chemicals can be absorbed through baby’s skin and cause toxic effects to baby.
- Also avoid any powders containing Camphor, Phenol, benzocaine (a topical anesthetic) Salicylates (aspirin derivatives) or Boric Acid because these chemicals may have toxic effects on your baby and, some babies with a genetic predisposition may develop a rare, dangerous blood problem called Methemoglobinemia if exposed to them.
You’ve Successfully Completed Your Baby’s First Bath!!
To your holistic health and happiness,
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