Bathing your newborn can be intimidating. Here are some tips to keep your baby safe and take the stress out of bath time.
When I brought my son home from the hospital, I waited for my mother to come around to show me how to bath him. Aside from nappy changes, bath time was the most stressful part of my day! I was so scared I would let this precious bundle slip under the water and drown or hurt him in some other way during the process.
A few (guided) lessons later, bath time became something we both looked forward to thanks to granny and also because we moved bath time to the evenings when dad was around to help. Knowing he was around to help decreased my anxiety about bath time which in turn lowered my baby’s anxiety and he now loves taking a bath!
Through the process I’ve learned some crucial tips that made the process that much safer and easier. Whether you’re a new mom battling to wash your newborn as she tries to wiggle away or a veteran that’s mastered the art bathing that slippery bundle of joy, it’s important to always keep the following in mind:
First up is the temperature of the water as it poses the most danger. A mistake in this area could seriously harm your baby. Some moms like to use a thermometer to make sure the water is a perfect 37 degrees for their baby. If you don’t have one (like most moms), test the running water on your wrist to make sure it won’t scald baby. Testing water with your elbow, where the skin is more sensitive, is also a good way to check that is not too hot.
Before placing baby in the water, always give it a thorough swirl to make sure there are no hot or cold spots.
NEVER run hot water first, as an agile toddler or small child can get in unsupervised and suffer first-degree burns.
2. Hot taps
If you can’t run hot and cold together, start with cold water, top up with hot water, and end off with cold again to cool down the tap. This way, your tot won’t accidentally touch the hot tap and burn himself.
Don’t add more hot water once your baby is in the bath, your child could stick his hand or foot under the running water and burn themselves. When the water is cold, it’s probably time to get out.
3. Don’t run a deep bath
Apart from being safer for baby and easier for you to manage, a shallow bath is also more water wise. If the water just covers baby’s knees, there will be enough to splash around in and for you to wash baby’s hair without the water covering his face.
4. Know how to hold baby
It’s important to know how to hold baby safely in the bath. Cradle him with your right arm, with your right hand gently cupping his head, leaving your left hand free to wash, rinse and tickle baby.
5. Bath seats
I didn’t realise how controversial a subject bath seats were till I was pregnant. They can be really helpful when you have a wriggly and slippery baby to deal with, but please for the love of logic don’t leave your baby unattended in one, because accidents can happen so fast.
Bath rings can be very handy when your baby starts to sit by himself, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security – a moving and wriggly baby can topple over easily if left unattended.
6. Never leave your baby alone
It’s so important, I’ll say it again: Never, ever, ever leave your baby alone in the bath, especially when they start moving and crawling around. Children can drown in less than 3cm of water and accidents happen so fast.
Make sure you have everything that you need to bath baby at hand so that you don’t need to quickly go fetch something. If you have forgotten something, it is best to take baby out of the bath and with you while you go get that something.
7. Non-slip mat
When they eventually graduate to the big bath, usually around the time they start sitting on their own, make sure you have a non-slip mat in the bath. You don’t need the fancy “baby” ones with a built-in thermometer, a regular one will do.
8. Clear away dangerous objects
Make sure that razor blades, nail scissors, nail files and other dangerous objects are nowhere near the bath when it’s baby’s bath time. Curious hands will always grab for unfamiliar things to explore. And toddlers also love sucking on anything they can lay there hands on, so move your shampoo and other toiletries out of reach too.
9. Walking babies
The moment your baby finds his mobility, he’ll want to crawl and walk around the bath. Even with non-slip mats, teach your child to always sit in the bath, especially if you’ve added bubble bath or bath oil.