Thursday, 15 March 2012

How to bath an infant

You won't need to give the baby a regular bath for a week or two after he comes home from the hospital.

Until the umbilical cord stump falls off, your newborn should only have sponge baths. This will ensure that the site is kept dry and prevent the spread of bacteria to any open areas that may not yet be healed. Newborns need only be bathed about once every three days.

Once that period is past, your little one is ready for his first real bath. The best place for this to occur is in his own small plastic bathtub. It can be placed on the kitchen counter, on the change table or inside the big bathtub in the bathroom. It's helpful to put a rubber mat under the baby tub so it won't slip.

Wherever you choose to place it, the room should be warm and free from drafts.

Assemble all the bath supplies, towels, washcloth, baby soap, baby shampoo, diapers and the clothing you're going to use, and put them within hand's reach before you start. If you happen to forget something, wrap the baby in a towel and take him with you. Never, ever leave a baby alone in water for even a few seconds.

For a small baby, place a towel on the bottom of the tub so he doesn't slide around. Turn on the warm water, lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and fill the tub to the depth of about eight centimeters. Always test the water temperature on the tender skin inside your wrist or with your elbow, before you place the baby in it. If it feels comfortable to you, it will feel fine on the baby's delicate skin.

Start with the baby's face and work downwards. Use the wet washcloth or a cotton ball to wipe one area of the face at a time. To wipe the eyes, start near the nose and gently wipe outwards. Don't try to clean the insides of the ears.

Don't use Q-tips when washing a baby. A sudden movement or jerk could result in an accident.

Using a bit of baby soap, wash neck, chest, arms, legs, feet and toes. Rinse soap off immediately.

Wash the baby's bottom, working from front to back. Clean the genitalia, being sure to gently wipe inside all the creases and crevices.

Turn the baby over, letting his chin rest on the inside of your other arm. Wash and rinse his back. Be sure his head is kept well above the surface of the water.

When the baby is old enough to sit up, the back wash can be done in this position.

The hair is washed last. Gently tip the baby back and using a washcloth, wet his hair. Gently massage in a bit of baby shampoo and rinse.

Bath time is over. Lift the baby out of tub and wrap him in a towel. Be careful! Wet babies are slippery. Pat him dry, put on his diaper and dress him. There's no need to apply lotions, oils or powder. Powder, especially has been found to be dangerous, because tiny particles can become lodged in little lungs.

The first few baths can be stressful to a new parent, but the technique is not really difficult to master. With a little bit of care, and a determination to always make safety your first priority, it won't be long before both you and your baby will view bath time as an enjoyable interlude and something to look forward to.

Hint to new parents: the warm water of a bath often relaxes the baby and makes him sleepy. After a nice warm bottle, he may doze off for several hours. Seize the opportunity to reward yourself for a job well done, perhaps with a relaxing bath of your own, a cup of coffee and a nap. Babies are a full-time job and new parents soon learn to take their breaks whenever they can.

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