When I had my first baby, I did everything “by the book.” My husband and I took the birthing classes at the hospital and signed up for the Baby Care 101 class too, where you were handed a life-size baby doll to practice bathing. In all honestly, I was nauseous the whole time and for some reason was completely turned off by this 20″ plastic naked baby so “daddy” took charge and it seemed very complicated. There were all sorts of supplies and products that had to be organized and juggled, a towel that had to be laid out just so and warnings about drowning, being too cold or too hot, and making sure they don’t slip as you drain the baby tub… etc.
After we had been home from the hospital for a few days and my Sweet was becoming a little more sour than sweet. My mom announced, “It’s time!” For what? Her first bath. Auugh! Did I mention I was tired, sore and stinky?
This time, I let my mom take charge but this time… it seemed like the simplest, most natural thing in the world! After five children, her Mommy Wisdom hums like a finely tuned machine.
After wiping down a sink in our bathroom, my mom undressed my week-old daughter and wrapped her in a towel. She took a wash cloth and wet it with warm water, wrapped it around her finger and began washing her head and face, carefully around the eyes. With smooth and loving strokes, she wiped around the ears and under her chin where the milk tended to puddle.
“See? It’s easy.” She said to me. “Now you take her.” It was a really magical and poignant moment for me. There was such a stark difference between her confidence at handling my baby and my own clumsy, tentative efforts. As soon as she left my mom’s confident arms, she started squirming and wiggling and fussing! “Don’t worry, she won’t break,” My mom reminded me. I was so grateful to have her around so I didn’t have to consult “the book.” I realized that the things that were outlined, step-by-step where really quite intuitive and natural. Eliminating the pressure of doing it the “right” way, whether with the prescribed products or following the steps in just the right order made it easier for me to use the time to bond with baby… and really enjoy it.
All we used was a towel, a wash cloth and the sink. Eventually, we introduced the baby tub and the bath kit, with scrubbers and toys and what-have-you. But that came later. That first bath was simple. We giggled and laughed. My baby girl was totally at ease, comfortable and sweet again!
Oh… were you looking for the step-by-step guide? In that case, I’ll give you the basics but I would love for you to remember ONCE AGAIN, there is no one right way to do this. Moms have bathed their children in rivers and oceans around the world. Do what feels right, safe and comfortable to you. I think that is the most important part of the whole experience… for both of you. Breathe, stay calm, enjoy it… and your baby will learn to love bath time too!
Guidelines for Bath Time
- Decide where you want to bathe your baby (kitchen sinks are a great size… just clean them first!)
- Gather any supplies so they are handy and easily accessible
- Have a dry towel ready to wrap her up
- Check the water temperature since your baby’s skin is very sensitive
- If she has cradle cap, you might want to use a mild baby shampoo and a scrub brush (but usually this clears up with time rather than scrubbing!)
- Wash, Rinse, Dry and Moisturize!
Note: Wait to fully immerse your baby until after the umbilical stump has fallen off. And, never leave her unattended in any amount of water (I have to say that but… c’mon, you knew that already!)