Bathing your baby is one of those time-honoured traditions that conjure up iconic images of a cooing, gurgling babe and a gently smiling mother. Whilst it is certainly one of the top three bonding times that a parent can spend with their child, such rosy images do not always capture some of the strife that can accompany a wriggling, slippery, screaming little body and a harassed parent.
Not everybody gets it right first time. The benefits however are immense. A little bit of practice, some degree of patience, and these top tips should help out.
Benefits for baby
The reason for persevering is that baby, and parent, benefit from a bath time in more ways than one. Whilst it may initially be easier to bath baby whenever he or she is awake, it is essential baby is bathed regularly for the following reasons:
- To ensure hygienic care of the umbilical ties and delicate bottoms areas
- After a few weeks or months a regular and scheduled bath can help baby shed the entire sensory overload collected during the day and prepare for bed.
- A daily bath time routine can teach your little one that bedtime is coming.
- The warm water helps to soothe and calm.
- It is also a great opportunity for the other caregiver, such as Dad to get involved. This can easily be turned into his special time with his son or daughter.
The method behind the madness is quite simple however, and a few top tips may help change a stressful bath time into a time all look forward to:
- A body-temperature bath, and room that is comfortably warm ensures that there is no significant difference to shock baby between water and air.
- Until your little one is about six months old, only about 13 cm of water is needed, with waist-high water required for sitting babies.
- Have everything ready; like bath towels, cleansing products, bath thermometer and then bring baby to the bathing area.
- If the nappy is dirty when it comes off, clean the bottom before putting your infant in the water. If this has caused trauma, wait until he or she is calm before putting her in the water.
- Remember to keep the head well supported as you lower baby into the water. You can try pouring cupped handfuls over your infant’s skin if you want to gently introduce the bath.
- Clean baby from top to bottom, then front to back. For the genitals, a wipe with fresh water is sufficient.
- Use unperfumed or pH neutral cleanser or soap. You can add gentle emollients such as organic plant oils to the water if you like, especially if the water is hard or baby’s delicate skin tends to be dry. Try one with chamomile for its gentle healing properties, or mandarin to relax and calm, or lavender for its ability to sedate and soothe.
- When baby is old enough, try introducing some bath time toys to keep them entertained.
If you follow this simple process, you are more likely to be calm yourself when you bathe your babe. This in itself can be one of the best restorers of tranquillity to the experience overall, and allow you to enjoy this special time with your little one.
Remember, most importantly NEVER leave your baby or toddler in the bath unattended, do not answer the door or phone if it rings, if it is important, they will call back.