Bathing Your Newborn, The Ruby Way
As a Newborn Care Specialist, it’s crucial to have an airtight system for everything. From bedtime to diaper changes, there’s always a more efficient, loving way to care for a baby. But great systems aren’t just for newborn care specialists (or baby nurses). Parents, friends, and relatives can learn to use them, too. In fact, I’d say most parents eventually land on a system that works great for them.
If you’re a first time parent, I hope these baby bathing instructions give you a running start. You can also check out my interview with Romper on baby bath hacks.
A great bath time routine is the super highway to bed time and a beautiful way to bond with your baby. It’s also the best method for avoiding small colds and diaper rash. However, parents and baby nurses should know that until the umbilical cord stump comes away, baby can’t be submerged in water — it’s hair wash and facial only for those first weeks.
Before you begin your baby’s sponge or full bath, gather your supplies. Because you can’t leave a baby unattended in or near water — not even for a microsecond! — you don’t want to start sponging only to realize you’ve forgotten your shampoo.
My favorite baby bath products are the Baby Buddy Bath Sponge (Target, $9.99), the Skip Hop Moby Warm-Up Bath Cozy (Target, $7.99), Mustela Foam Shampoo (Target, $12.49), and Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel (Target, $16.49). I love these gentle products, and I also love the easy-use pump dispensers.
Instructions for Newborn Facial and Hair Wash:
- Undress baby down to her diaper then wrap the baby in a bath towel, snug like swaddling so she’s easier to hold.
- Contain baby with the football hold, which many moms know from breastfeeding. If you don’t, just think about how you’d hold a football — tucked securely between body and forearm.
- Dip a cotton ball in water, squeezing out any excess so it’s not really wet, but only damp.
- Wipe from the forehead down to the neck. Don’t forget to wash behind baby’s ears!
- To clean the eye area, use a different cotton ball on each eye to prevent spreading germs. Wipe eyes from the inside outwards.
- Now comes the hair wash. Dip a sponge into room temperature water (cooler than water used for a full bath).
- Pump a newborn shampoo into your hands and lather over baby’s head, hair, and scalp with circular, massaging strokes. For babies with dry flakes, you can use a cradle cap brush. Remember to always brush in one direction.
- Rinse shampoo using the same sponge, which should ONLY be used to collect water for rinsing. If there’s shampoo in your sponge, squeeze it out before dipping it back into your bowl of water.
- Dry hair using a thick terry wash cloth and circular massage strokes.
Sounds relaxing, right? The hair wash and facial should cover you for the first few weeks, or as long as you can comfortably keep the baby in a football hold. For young babies, doing a hair wash and facial fist ensures that baby’s hair is done and dry before you submerge them in water, which helps prevent water form running into baby’s eyes during bath time (not fun for them).
Now for the main event — bath time.
A bath signals bed time is just around the corner, so try to do a bath at the same time every day. Because you’re completely submerging baby in water, it’s doubly important that you make sure everything is set up first.
Instructions For Full Baby Bath:
- Wipe the bath surface with an organic cleansing wipe before filling the tub with water.
- Around five minutes before the bath begins, fill the tub with warm water — temperature between 96 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer on hand, dip your elbow into the water. Interestingly, your elbow will give you a better idea of the temperature than your hands, which are likely wet or warm already.
- Don’t run the water while baby is in the tub, because the temperature may suddenly change. A blast of hot or cold water can be shocking and even painful for baby.
- Use your hands to lather up and apply your cleansing gel all over baby’s body. This lets you feel for any unusual bumps or dryness.
- Rinse, using the sponge for water.
- Wrap baby up in your terry cloth towel and snuggle.
What’s your baby bath routine?