New parents, especially with a first baby, want to do everything exactly right, at least according to the latest baby book, their pediatrician and, of course, the grandparents. The standard advice for bathing your baby is that you must do this every day. In actuality, until your little one is crawling and getting into messy things, a bath is only necessary once or twice a week. Other days, just wash your baby's face often and thoroughly clean the genital area after each diaper change.
When it is time for a real bath, you will be able to handle your wiggling, soapy, slippery baby much easier and more safely in the sink or a special baby tub. If you're leaning over a regular bathtub, your position is more awkward, and you will have less control over your baby's quick movements. The good news is that most babies find warm water very soothing and are likely to relax and cooperate. Of course, having a favorite tub toy for distraction never hurts. With luck, bath time will become one of the most enjoyable parts of your parenting experience. Here are some tips to make this adventure much easier for you and safer for your baby.
1. Gather all necessary bath accessories, including a towel and something to place your baby on before and after the bath.
2. Fill the tub or sink with no more than 2 to 3 inches of water. It should feel warm. not hot (about 90 degrees). Babies generally prefer a much cooler tub that you do. Keep in mind that children can drown in less than an inch of water - and in less than 60 seconds! So don't add too much water, and never leave your baby unattended.
3. Bring your baby to the bath area before removing all clothing, including the diaper.
4. Ease your baby into the tub, using one hand to support his neck and head. Pour cupfuls of bath water over him regularly during the bath so he doesn't get too cold.
5. Use soap sparingly, as it dries your baby's skin. Use your hand or a washcloth for bathing and move from top to bottom, then front to back. Wash his scalp with a wet, soapy cloth or baby shampoo. (Do this at the end of the bath to avoid too much soapy water, which can lead to urinary tract infections.) A routine washing is all that is needed for the genitals. Bath oils and bubbles can lead to urinary tract infections, too, so only use soaps that are specifically made for babies.
6. Moistened cotton balls are perfect for cleaning the eyes and face. Soften any dried mucus in the corner of the nose or eyes with a small section of a moistened washcloth before wiping it out.
7. Rinse your baby thoroughly with a clean washcloth, and you're done. Use care when you remove your baby from the tub, as his skin will be wet and slippery.
8. Wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat him dry. For dry skin or a bit of diaper rash, apply a mild lotion. For older babies and young children, make the family tub a safe place. Be sure there's a rubber bath mat in the bottom and a padded cover to cushion the spout. Never fill the tub more than waist-high when your child is sitting in the tub. Bath rings which have suction cups to attach it to the bottom of the tub add a safety factor and give you a helping hand. Still, it's not a substitute for keeping your eye on your baby or toddler at all times. Teach your child to always sit while in the tub. Don't allow your child to touch the faucet handles. Serious injury can occur if they accidentally turn on the hot water. This is a good habit to start before your child is strong enough to turn the handles. Once again, never leave your child unattended even for a few seconds! If you feel you have to leave the room to answer the door or tend to another child, wrap your baby in a towel and take him with you.
Bath time can be fun. Keep it that way by starting early to teach your little ones the basics of water safety. For beautiful monogrammed hooded towels and even little slippers that match, click on this link for Personalized Gifts. Other Child Safety Publications can be found at Consumer Product Safety Commission" . Janet Winter is a web designer, owner of three e-commerce sites, and writer on many topics including the Internet and travel. Her e-commerce sites are: Wild Bird Goodies.com, Welcome Baby Gifts.com, and the newly-launched A Pampered Dog.com.