Tori Kropp, RN / Baby Care Basics


Most babies love their baths, but until your newborn's umbilical stmp falls off (and if applicable, his circumcision heals), you'll want to keep his baths brief. In the mean time, you can keep your little one squeaky-clean with sponge baths and brief soads. Before you get started, you'll want to collect all the essential equipment: a hooded towel, a washcloth, baby shampoo, a mild soap (glycerin or Neutrogena) and a fresh diaper. Initially, let's talk about sponge baths.

1. Undress your baby down to his diaper and wrap him in a warm towl. Set him on a padded surface such as a changing table. You'll want to keep one hand on him at all times.

2. Dip the washcloth in warm water and ring it out slightly. To make sure the water isn't too hot for baby's sensitive skin, test it by dipping your elbow or insde wrist in it first. Then gently swab your baby's eyes to remove any discharge, always wiping from the inside corner out. Clean the rest of her face and pat dry. It isn't necessary to use soap on the baby's face.

3. Next, rub some soap onto your washcloth and clean her neck, chest, back, arms and legs, taking care to uncover only one section of skin at a time to avoid chill. Rince with a wet washchoth and pat dry.

4. Gently cleanse the baby's genitals. You'll not want to use soap on a newly circumcised penis. For a girl, always wipe and clean the vagina and labia from front to back. Wash your baby's bottom last. Rinse with a wet washcloth.

5. Lastly, put a dap of shampoo on the wet washcloth. Cradle your baby using your arm to support his head and spine. Hold him over the basin or tub and use your free hand to lather and rinse his hair. When you're finished, pull the hood over his head and pat dry. Babies lse heat through their heads so it is best to do your shampoo last.

When your baby is ready to plunge into deepr waters, the same rules apply, except that your baby will be naked for the entire bath and fully submerged in nice warm water. You'll always need to support your baby's back and neck. Keep one hand on the baby even with a tub that is designed to do that for you. Never leave your baby's side when you are giving him a bath.

Once your baby can sit up on her own or can do so with minimal help, you can move her into a full-size tub. For an easier transition, and free up your hands, you'll probably want to invest in a plastic bath seath with a safety belt that suctions to the bottom of the tub. This will help your baby stay safely upright and prevent slippage.