In the past as soon as you gave birth, the baby was whipped off you for checks and a bath straight away. Nowadays, with a lot of hospitals aiming for baby friendly status and more research, these practices are now outdated. It’s better to give mother and baby uninterrupted skin to skin for as long as possible to promote bonding, breastfeeding, and encourage the baby’s natural breathing, heart rate and temperature control. It’s also not necessary to bath babies straight away, or even in the first few days. In fact, it’s better to wait at least 8 days before bathing them. You may have heard the term ‘Wait for Eight.’ Until then, a simple top and tail will suffice. You can use a top and tail bowl or just 2 clean bowls will do.
How to Top and Tail:
- Get two bowls of warm water (body temperature is fine) 1 for face, 1 for bottom
- Use some cotton wool or a soft flannel
- Use two separate pieces of cotton wool for each eye, wipe from the inside out
- Wipe the rest of the face as needed
- Either clean the bottom during nappy changes or separately
- Wash baby’s face and eyes once a day
- If your baby has sticky eyes, you can clean them more regularly, using cooled boiled water
Once you do bathe your baby, it’s best to use plain water to start. Many babies get dry flaky skin in their first weeks of life, this is a natural process and usually doesn’t need any intervention like oil. Their skin is actually quite moist underneath, and it’s just the vernix shedding away (the white coating of the skin in the womb). They do not need any baby lotions, talc or moisturizers. If their skin is dry and cracked to the point of causing skin damage, or you’re concerned, then consult your Midwife or Doctor. If you can, use only water for the first four weeks of life, longer for premature babies. It is after the first month that your baby’s skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier. You can then use simple soaps, and if your baby still has dry skin or for baby massage you can use oils like Grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil or coconut oil, checking for sensitivities first.
How to Bath your newborn baby
Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot. You can use a baby bath, the sink, or just lay them in the big bath.
- Undress baby and place them in a towel, wrap them up leaving the head exposed
- Wash their hair, using a flannel or cotton wool
- Dry the hair
- Remove the towel and keep it on a radiator if possible
- Support baby’s head by putting your arm underneath and holding their opposite upper arm
- With the other hand, wash baby in the water and let them enjoy the feel of being afloat
- Keep it short, they lose heat so quickly
- Dry baby and get the nappy on quick – the drop in temperature means you’re more likely to get pee’d on!
Don’t worry if you do it slightly differently, as long as baby is safe, and you never leave a baby unattended in the bath. There are different types of bath you can get, like this tummy tub, which is a clear bucket and is said to make the baby feel more like they’re in the womb, or you can get bath supports. Once they’ve got more head control, around 8 weeks, I found it easier to lay my babies in the bath direct in shallow water and they could have a splash around and a bit of freedom.
I have used different products on my babies and children over the years, here are a selection I have personally used and enjoyed that you may find useful that don’t contain harsh chemicals, aren’t tested on animals, are safe to use for newborns and they may even help them to sleep.
What is the best thing to wash your baby with
Bioskin junior, for babies and children prone to Eczema and severe dryness.
Earth Friendly baby range by Lansinoh is gentle and has a lovely soothing lavender fragrance that is meant to calm baby and get them ready for sleep.
Cussons Mummy and me is a nice mild good value product I use as a bubble bath.
Sophie la girafe is a touch of luxury, not heavily scented and looks gorgeous in the bottle (and matches the toy you’re bound to get as a gift!) Safe, natural and organic.
There are plenty of baby bath products around on the market, check the ingredients and introduce them gradually, after the first 4 weeks of life.
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