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Bathing

Having a first bath is loved by some babies and others make take a few tries to become accustomed to it so do not worry if the first few times there is some crying.

WHO (World Health Organisation) recommend to not do a first baby bath until at least 24 hours after birth.  Or at least wait 6 hours if cultural reasons for giving an early bath.   The reasons for this include:

  • improving success of breastfeeding (study showed increase in breastfeeding success with delayed first baby bath)
  • reducing risk of hypothermia (becoming to cold) and hypoglycaemic (drop in in blood sugar level)
  • allowing the protection and anti bacterial properties of the vernix waxy white substance on the babys skin at birth which helps prevent their delicate skin from drying out.

There are 3 types of Baby Cleaning techniques.

    1. Top & Tailing
    2. Sponge Bathing
    3. Baby Bathtub Bathing

The ‘Topping and Tailing’ technique focuses on the more delicate areas such as face and and genital regions.  This technique can be done morning and or night.  It is also can be done to clean the face, head, neck and genital regions before carrying out a Sponge bath or Baby Bathtub Bath.

Sponge Baths are safe to do soon after birth but Bathing in a Baby Bath is not recommended until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off which usually happens about 1-2 weeks after birth.  Your baby does not need daily baths as long as you clean properly after diaper changes.   About 2-3 baby baths a week for the first year is recommended to be adequate.  Bathing more than this may actually dry out their skin.

The 3 Different methods will be described in more detail below.

 

How to Do Topping & Tailing

  1. Have ready a bowl of warm water, cotton wool pads & a towel – test temperature with your elbow to ensure water is not too hot – should be no more than 120°F (48.9°C)
  2. Place your baby on the changing mat and remove their clothes and diaper.  If wearing a vest can leave on or cover their chest with a small towel
  3. Dip a cotton wool pad into the water and clean around the face and neck going around the back of the ears but not inside.  Use a separate clean cotton wool pad for each eye starting at the nose and moving outwards across the eye
  4. Use a cotton wall pad to clean the hands
  5. The move to the genital area
      • For Girls hold the legs apart and wipe between the labia from front to back (to avoid contamination of vaginal area from stool)
      • For Boys – if uncircumcised wash the outside and under the foreskin only if it retracts easily – do not force the foreskin back for cleaning as can lead to inflammation and scarring – if circumcised the genital skin and head of the penis can be wiped
  6. Pat your baby dry – then new nappy and clothes can be put on or you can continue on to do a Sponge bath or Babytub bath

Sponge & Baby Bathtub Bathing

Safety Tips Sponge Baths & Babytub Baths

  • Ensure any sponge or cloth used is rinsed properly so free of any previous soap residues.
  • Just using water is recommended but if using a baby cleanser ensure it is a Mild Hypoallergenic type suitable for use with Babies
  • Make sure to test water before starting the wash – should be warm but not hot (no higher than 120°F (48.9°C)) to avoid scalding or burns
  • NEVER leave baby alone even for an instant to avoid potential drowning
  • Only use still water and not running water and no more than 2 inches (5cm) in a baby bath

How To Do a Sponge Bath?

A sponge bath means the baby will be not in a baby bath but a warm soaked sponge or cloth will be used to wash their body.

  1. Choose the area to do the sponge bath – can be done on the floor, shower base, a table, changing table, next to sink – if a hard surface pad the area with a blanket or waterproof mat and ensure if on a higher surface to use the safety strap to prevent the risk of falling.
  2. Place a bowl of warm water, a sponge or cloth and towels in hands reach – make sure the sponge or cloth rinsed of any soapy residues
  3. Place your baby wrapped in a towel in the area and only expose areas of the body to be wash keeping the rest of the body covered with the towel
  4. Start with their face and wash the remainder of their body paying special attention to crease such as armpits, behind the ears and neck
  5. Finish with the genital area
    • For girls hold the legs apart and wipe between the labia from front to back (to avoid contamination of vaginal area from stool)
    • For boys – if uncircumcised wash the outside and under the foreskin only if it retracts easily – do not force the foreskin back for cleaning as can lead to inflammation and scarring – if circumcised the genital skin and head of the penis can be wiped
  6. Pat your baby dry and cover in a towel to keep warm
  7. Apply a fragrance-free hypoallergenic moisturiser to their body to help prevent dryness and eczema – see more for tips on how to choose one

Some Examples of Baby Bathtubs

How To Bath in a Baby Bathtub?

There are few options of Baby Bathtubs. The safest is a hard plastic baby bathtub which has a sloped and textured surface to help support the babys head and neck and prevent slipping.  If using a small kitchen tub place or sink place a towel in the bottom to help prevent slippage and support around their head and neck with one hand.  If using a baby seat ensure it is one that fastens to the sides of the bath or sink – they can topple.  The first time may only be a couple of mins and can build the time up as they become accustomed to the new experience.  10-15 mins is the recommended maximum time for a baby bath but monitor if they are becoming cold and finish then.

  1. Place the baby bathtub on a floor or in a bath with a non slip mat underneath
  2. Have a sponge or cloth, baby shampoo & towels in easy hands reach.  If wanting to use a Hypoallergenic mild baby cleanser on their body also have nearby.
  3. Fill the bath with 2 inches (5cm) of warm water (no more than 120 degrees Farenheit or 48.9 degrees Celcius) – feel the water first with your wrist or elbow
  4. If in the bath a small stool next to the bath or kneeling for yourself will help protect your back – if on the floor best position for you is in kneeling
  5. Support the baby under its shoulders head and neck with one arm and use the other hand to guide the legs in feet first as you lower into the bath
  6. Start with their face and head just using water – if they have hair still water is just fine to use but if have a lot of hair, oily hair or been very active then a mild baby shampoo can be used –
  7. Then wash the remainder of their body paying special attention to crease such as armpits, behind the ears and neck.  Just water is fine but if you wish to use a mild Hypoallergenic baby cleanser it can be used.
  8. Finish with the genital area
    • For Girls gently move the lips of the labia apart and wipe between the labia from front to back (to avoid contamination of vaginal area from stool)
    • For Boys – if uncircumcised wash the outside and under the foreskin only if it retracts easily – do not force the foreskin back for cleaning as can lead to inflammation and scarring – if circumcised the genital skin and head of the penis can be wiped
  9. To remove your baby again support under the head, neck and shoulders and back with one hand & arm and lift the legs with the other
  10. Pat your baby dry and wrap in a towel to keep warm
  11. Apply a fragrance-free hypoallergenic moisturiser to their body to help prevent dryness and eczema – see more for tips on how to choose one

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