For many new parents, bath time becomes a favourite part of the day. But what should you expect from those early bath experiences? We’ve got the goods.
When you’re expecting your first baby, you think (and worry!) about so many things: Will we ever land on a name we like? Will we co-sleep? How will this new babe affect my relationship with my partner? Will I want to go back to work? Am I going to screw this kid up?! (On this last one—we all end up in that panic spiral at some point. You won’t. Do your very best to love and nurture, and you just won’t.)
But you probably also imagine some lovely moments, from the earliest days on. One of those dreamy things might be your little one’s first bath.
If you give birth in a hospital, chances are a nurse will show you how to give your newborn a sponge-bath before you’re discharged. If you have a midwife as your primary caregiver, you’ll likely learn in the first few days after your new bundle’s arrival. You’ll use a soft washcloth and lukewarm water, and working your way from the top of the head down, you’ll gently clean your little one. You’ll be instructed to pay close attention to any creases, like in the folds of the neck or under the arms and behind the knees, as a baby’s skin is very thin and delicate and can irritate easily. This first wipe-down will be fast, and you’ll dress or wrap Baby again quickly (infants never like to be cold!). You’ll likely do a sponge-bath every couple of days until the umbilical cord stump falls off, a week or two after birth.
Once the cord area has healed, and you’re hopefully home and adjusting to your new normal, it’ll be time for the first real splash in the tub. This can be such a fun, early bonding time with your baby. “Touch is Baby’s most well-developed sense at birth, and bath time is filled with opportunities for touch and cuddles,” says Dr. Carrie Lynde, a dermatologist in Markham, Ont., and a mother of four.
Start by filling an infant tub (or even the sink!) with two to three inches of warm water. “Not too hot, and not too cold,” says Lynde. Then, make sure you have everything you need nearby before you undress and get Baby ready for the bath, as your little one must be closely supervised in order to maintain safety at all times. Your bath time kit should include a soft washcloth or two; a large, clean towel; a fresh diaper; a clean outfit; a gentle-formula cleanser, like JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo; and a lightweight moisturizer formulated for baby skin, like JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ Newborn Face & Body Lotion.
The CottonTouch™ line is clinically proven mild and gentle for newborn skin, and is free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes for your wee ones. Made with real cotton, the JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo rinses away beautifully without leaving any residue, while the JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ Newborn Face & Body Lotion absorbs quickly and easily and is pH balanced specifically to newborn’s sensitive skin.
Holding your baby securely, you can carefully lower them into the water. (Your little one may cry at first but will likely adjust quickly.) You will cradle Baby’s head and back with one hand and arm, while your other hand does the rest of the work. (You may want to have your partner nearby until you figure out what works best for you, and you get comfortable with the routine.) Using a little soap, you’ll gently smooth the lather over Baby. Just like with the sponge-bath, you’ll carefully clean all of the folds and creases, including the genital areas. (For little girls, be sure to wipe front to back to avoid passing any bacteria.) Gently rinse by cupping water over your baby’s body until clear of soap. You can use a tiny bit of soap to wash your little one’s hair (if they have any!) and scalp, rinsing carefully.
When your bundle of joy is clean, Lynde advises parents, “place Baby in a cotton towel—the hooded ones work well for young babies. Remember, Baby will be slippery, so be careful. Pat Baby dry…then [you can apply] moisturizer to the entire body.” The last step is to dress your little one again, in a fresh diaper and in clean clothing.
For many families, bath time becomes a special, beloved part of the first year especially. Parents will get more adept and many babies learn to love the water—and learn to splash! Soon you may find you need two towels—one for your baby, and one for you! And then they’ll become toddlers, and bath time will likely be akin to wrestling a tiny, angry alligator. And no, we’re totally not kidding.