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Baby Bath Time

Baby’s bath time can be an enjoyable experience for both parents and baby once you have had a bit of practice. Some babies will enjoy being in the bath right from the start while others may need a little time to get used to it.

Does a baby need a bath everyday?

A newborn does not need a full bath more often than 2-3 times a week. A full bath everyday can be drying to baby’s skin.

Wash your baby’s face, neck and diaper area everyday.

Do I have to wait until the cord falls off to put baby in the tub?

Recent research has shown there is no need to wait to tub bath a baby. Tub bathing does not increase the chance of an infection in the cord stump or slow its healing.

Simply dry the cord well with cotton swabs after a bath.

How warm should the bath water be?

A little warmer than body temperature is best. Check the temperature of the bath water with the inner part of your wrist or your elbow. It should feel warm but not hot.

If you have a thermometer, the bath water should test about 37 degrees C (98 degrees F).

A wet baby is easily chilled. Choose a comfortably warm room. Close windows and doors to avoid drafts.

Can I use soap?

Plain water is all that is really needed. If you choose to use soap, select a mild unscented soap.

When washing baby’s hair, use a drop of mild baby shampoo and rinse well.

What type of bathtub is best?

Some parents use plastic infant tubs but the kitchen sink will work as well. Simply line the sink with a towel or mat. Turn the temperature on your water heater to below 120 F (49 C) to prevent accidental scalding.

2-4 inches of water is all that is needed in the tub.

Which areas should I wash first?

Think of washing “clean to dirty”. Start with baby’s face. Using a soft cloth, gently wipe baby’s eyes from the inside to the outside. Next, wash the neck folds and behind the ears. After washing baby’s torso, arms and legs, wash the diaper area last.

Important tips:

  • Handling a wriggling, slippery baby takes practice but you will quickly get used to it. Support your baby with your wrist under baby’s neck and your fingers encircling baby’s upper arm.
  • Never leave your baby alone in a bath, even for a minute. If you have to interrupt the bath for any reason, wrap your baby in a towel and take him with you.
  • After baby’s bath, wrap him in a soft towel and pat him dry immediately. Carefully dry the skin folds.

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Meet Jana

As a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I have helped thousands of new families in the early days and weeks after delivery. Over and over, I have seen the same questions and challenges catch new families off guard. 

I want it to be easier for you!

I have put the answers to all of these questions in our online prenatal courses. I want you to have the information you need ahead of time so that you know what to expect with breastfeeding and taking care of your newborn.
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  1. Your Baby’s Skin.Caring for Kids. Canadian Pediatric Society, Feb. 2012. Web.

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