Simple Tips For Your Baby’s First Bath At Home

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If you are nervous about your baby’s first bath at home, it is totally understandable.

Handling a newborn is quite tricky. Their heads are not stable and their bodies are so small! 

Now combine that with holding them while wet and slippery and the fact that small babies scream their lungs out when bathing during the first few days of life. 

It’s enough to make your run for the hills!

I know how it feels to be anxious about bathing a small baby for the first time. You ask yourself what if the baby slips and falls? What if water gets into their eyes? What if you make the water too hot? 

How do you make sure you keep them safe during bathtime?

It’s completely normal to not be confident about giving your baby a bath and worry that they might get hurt in some way. But you don’t have to feel like that.

You don’t have to feel nervous about bathing your baby for the first time. Use the tips on how to keep your baby safe during bathtime and you will soon do it effortlessly! 

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Steps For Your Baby’s First Bath At Home

Follow these steps to keep your baby safe while bathing.

Gather Everything You Will Need 

This is the very first thing you should do when you bathe your little one. 

Get everything ready before starting with the bath.

Here is what you need for your baby’s bath:

Baby bathtub

Bath towel

Washcloths 

Baby sponge (convenient for top to tail)

Spout cover 

Water Thermometer 

Bath soap

Coconut oil or emollient cream

Cotton pads 

Cotton wools

Put water in the bathtub together with the washcloth and bath products you will be using. 

Have the diaper changing station set up, get clothes ready to wear after bathing, and be prepared to feed after the bath (Make a bottle ahead if you are bottle-feeding).

By doing this, your full attention will be on your baby, minimizing the chances of accidents. A lot of them do happen during bathtime.

Correct Water Temperature For Bathing A Baby 

Getting the water to be the correct temperature for your baby’s first bath can be tricky at home. It will take some getting used to.

Be careful that you don’t make the bathwater too hot for the baby, otherwise, you run the risk of burning their skin.

The right water temperature to bathe a baby is 36 deg Celsius.  

You do not need a thermometer though, testing with your elbow should be fine. 

If you would rather be cautious and do not want to keep feeling with your elbow, use this water thermometer to measure the correct water temperature. It will also give you room temperature.

With practice, getting the right temperature will come naturally to you and you will not have to rely on a thermometer.

The water should be lukewarm, if it’s too warm then it could burn your baby.

Warm The Room

Since small babies find it difficult to regulate their body temperature, they get cold very fast when not dressed. For this reason, it’s best to warm the room where you are going to bathe your little one a few minutes before you begin. 

Use this same water thermometer to read the room temperature before undressing your baby.

If you don’t, your baby could feel too cold before you are done.

A more serious condition that can develop is when your baby gets so cold that they become unresponsive and needs to be attended to by a medical professional. 

Be Quick

Still on avoiding your baby getting too cold, keep bathtime short.

You shouldn’t be so fast that it feels like you are running a marathon, but again, you shouldn’t be so slow that your little one starts getting fussy. Babies become irritated when you handle them for a long period. 

Safe Water Level

You don’t need to fill the tub with a large amount of water to bathe your baby.

In fact, this increases the chances of drowning should your baby slip into the tub. Between 5cm to 8 cm of water should be fine. 

Maintain Firm Grip

Maintaining a firm grip during baby's first bath at home

It’s difficult enough to hold your small baby.

You can imagine how hard it will be once the baby is wet and undressed. Keep your focus and maintain a firm grip on your little one when bathing. It’s very easy for them to slip and fall. 

You also want to make sure you have placed the bathtub on a flat and steady surface. Keep your baby flat on the bath or close to you, just in case they slip then there will be a support structure to keep them from falling. 

Don’t Rely On Baby Bath Holders

Never rely on baby bath holders to keep your baby safe while bathing.

In fact, they are only suitable once your baby can sit up on her own. Regardless, you should never leave your little one unattended on a bath holder or bath seat. It’s not safe. 

Be Cautious On The Changing Pad

Instead of putting your baby straight onto the changing pad after taking them out of the bath, rather put a towel on top of the changing pad and then put your baby down. This will reduce the risk of slipping, plus it will be more comfortable for your little one. Changing pads are cold. 

You should also place the changing pad on a firm surface and make sure you hold onto your baby to prevent them from slipping and falling. 

Use Safe Baby Bath Products

Use the safest products for your baby’s skin from the first time your baby takes a bath at home. The skin is still sensitive and requires proper care.

I love this baby wash from Childs Farm. It is so gentle on baby skin and does not dry it out after bathing.

A lot of baby products are labeled “baby” but contain harmful substances that are not safe for your baby. These include mineral oils, parabens, sulfates, fragrances, and phthalates. 

These dangerous chemicals are prone to cause allergic reactions and aggravate eczema. They are also linked to cancer and other horrid side effects for your baby (source). 

It’s always best to check ingredients when buying baby products and look for those that don’t contain these chemicals.

You should also be careful when buying products labeled “organic” or “all-natural”. Some manufacturers claim their products are organic but they list these harmful substances on the ingredients. 

You are better off reading that ingredient list!

Related: 12 Proven Tips to Treat Baby Eczema (Without Harsh Chemicals)

Use Soft Towels

Is it a coincidence that baby clothes and blankets are always made from super soft materials that are gentle to the touch? Probably not. 

A baby’s delicate skin is sensitive to any scratching and rubbing against hard surfaces.

This is why you should always opt for soft materials when buying bath towels and washcloths for your baby. 100% cotton should be suitable for sensitive or dry skin. 

Get this bath towel to wrap your baby up and dry their skin.

Feel the towels against your skin when buying. I have come across very hard “baby washcloths” in some baby shops.

Ever since being deeply disappointed after buying baby washcloths and discovering they are so hard and not even suitable for my own face, I always feel the material before buying!

Unless of course, I hear from someone who has used them or I see good reviews if I am buying online.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Bath Baby

There is no “magical time” for your baby to take a bath.

Some babies prefer a morning bath, some prefer bathing at night. Most moms prefer the evening bath as it also helps with calming a baby and can be incorporated into a bedtime routine. 

The first time your baby takes a bath at home can be at any time during the day until you figure out which time your baby prefers.

However, you might want to avoid bathing your baby at the following times:

1. Bathing Your Baby Right After Feeding

Their tummy is full and all the handling and propping during bathtime might make them spit-up. Your baby will also be uncomfortable. 

I’ve also noticed that when you put them down immediately after feeding, sometimes the milk travels back up the throat and they spit it.

This is more common if they didn’t burp, although it can also happen if you let your baby lie down quickly after burping them. Sometimes, the milk goes up the baby’s nose and blocks their airways, preventing them from breathing.

It’s a horrible experience and you want to avoid that.

Wait about 30 minutes to an hour after feeding before bathing your baby. 

2. Bathing Your Baby When They Are Hungry

A hungry baby is an impatient baby! 

Bathing your baby when they are hungry will not only be unpleasant for them, but it will likely be frustrating for you too. Chances are, halfway through bathtime, your little one will cry out for a feed while you are still trying to finish up so that you can tick bathing off your “mom to-do list”.

A crying baby often causes panic and will make you lose concentration. You don’t want this to happen during bathtime.

3. Don’t Bathe Your Baby When They Are Already Irritable

If your little one is already fussy, do not attempt to give them a bath. Try to calm them down first or postpone bath time altogether until you can both enjoy it. 

Related: 21 Amazing Formula Feeding Tips To Save You Time And Energy

Avoid Bathing Your Baby Frequently

Contrary to the advice we heard while growing up, there is absolutely no need to bathe a baby every day. Frequent bathing strips natural moisture from the baby’s skin and dries it up, making the skin more prone to eczema. 

The only time a daily bath is recommended is when a baby has eczema. This is ideal when using moisture-rich products that will help restore moisture on the skin. 

How often should you bathe a newborn?  

A newborn baby needs a bath only 2 or 3 times a week. In between, you can give a baby what is called “top and tail”, where you only clean the face, neck, hands, and bottom. 

This is the best method to use to bathe a newborn baby until the umbilical stump falls off. 

When to start bathing baby daily

It’s best to wait as long as possible and only give a daily bath when it is necessary.

Daily baths can strip the natural skin moisture even when your baby has grown or is a toddler.

You can use your own discretion.

Times when your little one has been sweating or has been crawling or playing outside, or when their diaper has leaked, call for a full-body soak. 

If your baby has no reason to take a bath every day, there is no need to give it. 

Related: 12 Proven Tips to Treat Baby Eczema (Without Harsh Chemicals)

How To Bathe A Newborn

Baby's first bath at home: Washing your baby's head

Here are easy steps to follow when bathing your new baby.

  • Prepare the bath area, gather everything you will be using, and lie baby flat on their back.
  • Start with the face, use wet cotton pads to wipe the eyes. Use a separate cotton pad for each eye to avoid one eye contaminating the other. Now do the same for the ears. Get one last swab to wipe the whole face. Keep in mind that you only use plain water to wash your baby’s face. No soap or any other bath product.
  • Lift your baby’s chin up and wipe the neck. Get into those creases and remove built-up sweat.
  • Wash your baby’s hair. With the baby still on their back, hold them on top of your strongest arm and close the ears with your thumb and middle finger to prevent water from entering the ears. 
  • Wet your baby’s hair and apply a hair wash of your choice and rinse afterward.
  • To wash the whole body, apply an emollient cream or a bath product of your choice to the whole body. Place your baby inside the bathtub and rinse her whole body. When done, take your little one out of the water, pat dry, apply moisturizer, and dress them. Remember to be quick!

Related: All You Need To Know About Bathroom Safety

How To Bathe A Newborn Without A Baby Tub

Follow these steps to bathe your baby without putting them inside water.

During your baby’s first 2 weeks, this method is ideal as it’s important for the baby to not take a full bath at home before the umbilical stump falls off.

This method is ideal for bathing a baby before the umbilical stump falls off.

  • As with the previous method, prepare the bath area, gather everything you will be using, and lie baby flat on their back.
  • Place room temperature water in a small basin close to you.
  • Start with the face, use wet cotton pads to wipe the eyes. One cotton pad for each eye to avoid one eye contaminating the other. Now do the same for the ears. Get one last swab to wipe the whole face. 
  • Lift your baby’s chin up and wipe the neck. Wipe the creases under the chin to remove built-up sweat.
  • Wash your baby’s hair. With the baby still on their back, hold them on top of your strongest arm and close the ears with your thumb and middle finger to prevent water from entering the ears. 
  • Wet your baby’s hair and apply a hair wash of your choice and rinse afterward. Be careful to not let any water run into her eyes.
  • To wash the body, apply an emollient cream or a bath product of your choice to the whole body.
  • Wet a soft washcloth inside the water and use it to wash your baby’s body. A baby bath sponge is also ideal for this.
  • When you are finished, rinse the washcloth and wipe your little one. Use a dry towel to pat dry, apply moisturizer, and quickly dress your baby.

Are You Ready For Your Baby’s First Bath At Home?

Keeping your baby safe during bath time is quite simple once you get comfortable with bathing them. 

It’s however important to note that once we get used to bathing our babies, we often get complacent and start cutting corners, neglecting the baby’s safety. Be careful not to do this. 

Always apply the safety tips on this post to ensure safety, not only during your baby’s first bath at home but each and every time you give them a soak. 

Read Next:

Baby Hygiene Tips To Keep Your Baby Clean Without Bathing

All You Need To Know About Bathroom Safety

9 Surprisingly Unsafe Tips For New Moms To Ignore

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