As your babies were born, the norm was to wipe them down with a towel before mom or dad held him/her. Today, you may have a choice! It’s just a matter of making up your mind and talking to the nurses at your hospital to ask if you have the opportunity to choose.
To bathe or not to bathe?
Research indicates that babies are born with a greasy film called vernix. Vernix is a source of moisture that protects your baby’s skin. If vernix is not wiped off it is reabsorbed by the body. Absorbing the vernix will make your baby less likely to develop dry skin patches. Babies that are born pre-term have more vernix. Because in the womb babies are submerged in amniotic fluid, the vernix is necessary to provide protection waterproof.
What happens next?
Once new parents get home, giving the baby his/her first bath may be terrifying! There is no need for a special bath, although most of us buy special tools for the new arrival. If you don’t have a bath, a clean sink or the big bath will be enough. Here are few steps to consider:
- Place the baby in a safe place.
- Make sure that you have everything you need at hand such as a towel, changing mat, fresh nappy, vest and clean clothes.
- One of the biggest worries may be getting the right water temperature. You may use your elbow by dipping it into the water. Why the elbow? The skin there is very sensitive, therefore is a reliable way to test the water. It should feel lukewarm.
- You may add a baby bubble bath although newborns don’t need bubbles to play with!
- Undress and wrap the baby in a warm towel. Hold the baby over the bath, cup some bath water in your free hand and run it over the head gently. Shampoo may irritate a newborn’s scalp (you may want to hold a little to start using it).
- It is important that you dry the baby’s head before you continue as wet heads make babies lose heat.
- Place your baby’s neck in the crook of your elbow and with your hand hold the back of one the legs. Gently lower him/her into the water. For right-handed people is easier to place babies neck in the crook of your left elbow while holding the left leg with the left hand. If you are left handed, then you can do that inversely.
- Cup some water in your free hand and trickle it over the body. It is not necessary to rub or scrub. At this age, it is enough just to freshen them up!
- Never leave baby unattended and don’t make baths too long as babies will get cold quickly.
- BE CAREFUL as wet babies are slippery! Lift the baby and wrap him/her with a towel.
- Dry the baby and place on a nappy to avoid any possible surprises!
- Dress the baby quickly.
- YOU DID IT!