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Healthy Living >>> Newborn Articles & News

How To Bathe Your Baby: A Step-By-Step Guide

By: The BabyCenter Editorial Staff

How often should I bathe my baby?
Although some parents bathe their babies every day, until yours is crawling around and getting into messes, a bath isn't really necessary more than once or twice a week. (Just wash his face frequently and thoroughly clean his genital area after each diaper change.) When you do bathe him, you may find it a little scary to handle your wiggly little one when he's all soapy and slippery, so keep a good grip. Most babies find the warm water very soothing.

Where should I bathe my baby?
Instead of using a standard bathtub, which requires you to kneel or lean awkwardly over your baby and gives you less control over his movements, it makes sense to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub.

What's the best way to give my baby a bath?
Here's how to do it and what you'll need to make baby-bathing easy. With any luck, his bath will become one of the most enjoyable parts of your days together:

1. Assemble all necessary bath accessories.

2. Fill the tub with 2 to 3 inches of water that feels warm but not hot, about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

3. Bring your baby to the bath area and undress him completely.

4. Gradually slip 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 (it dries your baby's skin) as you wash him with your hand or a washcloth from top to bottom, front to back. Wash his scalp with a wet, soapy cloth. Use a moistened cotton ball to clean his eyes and face. As for your baby's genitals, a routine washing is all that is needed. If dried mucus has collected in the corner of your baby's nostrils or eyes, dab it several times with a small section of a moistened washcloth to soften it before you wipe it out.

6. Rinse your baby thoroughly with a clean washcloth.

7. Wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat him dry. If his skin is dry, or if he has a bit of diaper rash, you may want to apply a mild lotion after his bath.

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Bath time can be fun for you and your child, but you can't be too cautious. Start early by teaching your little one water safety basics, and keep these 12 safe bathing tips in mind before you plunge in:

Never leave your child unsupervised, even for a minute. If the doorbell peals or the phone rings, and you feel you must answer it, scoop him up in a towel and take him with you. * Never put your child into a tub when the water is still running (the water temperature could change or the water could get too deep).

Make the family tub safe: Outfit it with a rubber bath mat and a cushioned spout cover. Also, be sure that any sliding glass shower doors are made with safety glass.

Make sure the bath water is comfortably warm (96 to 100 degrees F). Babies and toddlers generally prefer a much cooler tub than you probably do.

Fill the tub with only two to three inches of water for newborns and infants up to 6 months old and never more than waist-high (in sitting position) for older children.

For kids who can sit up, a bath ring suction-cupped to the bottom of the tub may provide you with an extra "hand." But it's no substitute for keeping your eye on your baby at all times.

Teach your child to sit in the tub at all times.

Use soaps, shampoos, and bubble baths sparingly as they can dry out your child's skin and may cause rashes. Bath oils and bubbles can lead to urinary tract infections.

Shampoo your child's hair at the end of the bath to avoid having him sit in shampoo-filled water, which also can lead to urinary tract infections.

Set your water heater to 120 degree F. A child can get third-degree burns in less than a minute at 140 degrees.

Do not allow your child to touch the faucet handles. Even if he can't move them now, he'll be strong enough to do so soon and that could lead to serious injury.

Never leave your child unattended. (Yes, it's so important we listed it twice.) Children can drown in less than an inch of water and in less than 60 seconds.


Editor's Note:

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