Whether you're bathing a newborn or a slightly bigger bundle, washing a baby can be a risky business. Here's how to make tub time simple, safe and fun.
Sure, washing a baby isn’t rocket science, but there are some strategies that’ll make the process even easier for both of you. Ready to rub-a-dub-dub? Use this step-by-step guide on how to safely bathe your baby.
+ Set the scene:
If your critter’s headed to the big tub, make sure it’s equipped with safety features like faucet covers (there are some pretty cute ones out there) and a nonslip pad on the bottom. If you’re using a bath seat for your 5- to 10-month-old (they’re not recommended for babies outside that age range), check that it’s stable and meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards — and never let a seat be a substitute for your supervision. Plus, make sure the bathroom’s toasty (about 75 to 80°F), so your cutie stays warm before, during and after the bath.
+ Gather your supplies — and keep ’em nearby:
You don’t want to step away — not even for a second — so make sure you’ve got all the baby care supplies you need before you begin washing your baby: Ready the water. Let your munchkin hang out in her bouncy seat, crib, or another safe place while you fill the tub with just a few inches of (warm, not hot) water and, of course, some awesome toys. Test the waters with your wrist or elbow (where skin is more sensitive) to make sure they’re just right for your baby bear. (Also, consider setting your water heater to a max of 120°F to prevent scalding.)
- A mild cleanser and tear-free shampoo (the fewer ingredients, the better).
- Washcloths to clean your baby (and a couple of dry ones to cover her exposed body parts so she doesn’t get a chill while you’re soaping her up).
- Cotton balls for cleaning that adorable face.
- A shampoo visor to protect those eyes from suds (though this is optional since your shampoo should be tear-free).
- Bath toys (for older babies who are looking for fun or need a little distraction from the tasks at hand).
- A hooded towel.
- Moisturizer for post-bath skin-softening.
- Diaper supplies.
- A clean outfit to wear once she’s all dry.
+ Put your baby in the tub:
With your honey’s head on your arm, your hand gripping her bottom, and the other hand holding her torso securely, gently slip your guppy into the tub, feet first. Keep that hold firm so your baby feels safe. If you'll be keeping her company in the bath, place her in her bouncy seat next to the tub, ease yourself in, and then reach over for her (never step in while you're holding your baby). Even better, get your partner’s help with this balancing act.
+ Take it (mostly) from the top:
Make sure you know how to bathe your baby in the right order: Using a soft washcloth (or cotton ball) and a little water, start out by cleansing your sweetie’s face, neck and ears (scrubbing can irritate your baby’s super-sensitive skin, so be gentle). Work from the top down so the dirtiest (aka diaper) area gets cleaned at the end — and mind the grime in those crud-collecting folds behind the ears and around the neck. Use only a mild cleanser (no adult soap, please) on her hands and diaper area, unless other spots are particularly crusty from today’s lunch or mud-puddle romp. Save her bottom and genitals for last; though in the big tub, it should be a shampoo instead as the last step so your sweetie doesn’t soak in (skin-drying) sudsy water too long. And speaking of shampoo, those little locks need washing only about once or twice a week with just a few drops of tear-free shampoo.
After the bath, slather your sweetie with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer to keep that skin silky smooth. Give her a little time to bare her bottom (going briefly without a diaper is one of many natural baby rash cures).
One last thing: Some babies totally love the tub while others may (loudly) cry the bath-time blues. Regardless of which type of bathing beauty you’ve got, how you bathe your baby is as important as how often you do it. Washing your baby need not be a daily event. In fact, too much tub time can lead to dry baby skin; so if your darling gets dirty between baths, just use a warm, wet washcloth to spot clean as needed.
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