Ten Tips for Your Baby’s First Bath at Home
Warm, fragrant, soothing, and bubbly – bath time done right may just be the best part of the day.
Since your baby’s first baths can set the tone for a lovely rhythm and many more baths to come, it’s great to plan ahead for the logistics involved in each step - setting up, getting into the tub, bathing, emerging, and making the experience part of your baby’s larger routine. Here are some tips to keep it simple:
Set Up Before Bath Time
1. Choose your bathing method
Decide how you wish to situate your baby in the bath. Some parents choose to hold their baby as they wash them. We recommend using a baby bathtub with a newborn seat.
Why is it not recommended that I just hold my baby during the bath?As you wash your baby, the soap or baby oil will make their body slippery, and they could slip out of your hands. Utilizing a baby tub with a space that perfectly cradles your newborn makes the experience safer. It also allows you to move more comfortably, with less awkward repositioning. It reduces stress, freeing up your hands and allowing you to be more attentive and present.
2. Create a change station
Before a bath, you will want to undress your baby on a surface that is flat and safe. Ideally that surface will be in the bathroom, but if no such place is available in the bathroom, create that space in a nearby room that is properly heated.
Why do I need a change station?Designating a change station allows you to control the temperature for when your baby is undressed, to lay out all your supplies like diapers and ointments, and to have your baby’s clothing for after the bath ready and waiting. With everything properly set up, there will be no unnecessary scrambling and you can move your baby smoothly through each transition.
3. Prepare the tub
Find a place for your chosen baby tub. Place the baby bathtub on that surface and make sure it is properly fastened, steady, and safe according to its instructions. Ideally, it is elevated and positioned at a height that’s comfortable for you. If it is lower down, designate a comfortable space for you, from which to safely sit, hold your baby, maneuver, and reach bathing essentials like a washcloth. Choose a no-tears soap or bath oil that is made for sensitive baby skin and eyes, and place that, and a towel, within your reach.
Why is it so important to set up the tub this way?If the bath is secured, if everything you need is accessible, and if you yourself are comfortable, then you are free to hold and care for your baby with your full attention and minimal distractions. Ultimately, when you feel prepared and in control, both you and your baby will be more relaxed in the situation.
In the Tub
4. Set the temperature
Both water and room temperature are key at bath time. Many devices exist today for managing these, but nothing is better than testing the temperature for yourself.
Touch the water as it comes out of the tap and also once it has accumulated in the tub itself – both at the surface of the water and at its depth, as the temperature can vary between these spots. Trust your own skin… and your own parenting instinct.
Also, since bathrooms are often chilly, close the door as you run the warm water so you can heat up the room itself.
Why is the temperature so important?It is more difficult for babies to regulate their body temperature than it is for adults, so drastic changes can be hard on them. Try to make your baby’s transitions between temperatures as gentle as possible to create a pleasant experience and a positive association with bathing.
5. Get your baby into the tub
Undress your baby, wrap them in a towel, and keep them wrapped until putting them into the water, securing them with their head safely above water.
Why should I keep my baby wrapped until they go into the water?By keeping your baby wrapped until they go into the water, they experience much less transition in temperature. They can simply enjoy the familiar sensation of warm water, which is linked to the comforting experience of the womb. You can also wrap your baby in a cloth diaper and lower them into the bath water wrapped up, which will make for a gentler transition.
Create a positive physical and emotional association with bathing and hygiene now, so it will shape your baby’s experience as they grow and become more active and willing (or potentially unwilling) bathing participants.
6. Create a positive bathing experience
Be sure your hands are warm before touching your baby’s bare body. Move slowly, be soothing. Make eye contact, stay close. Don’t get spooked by dry skin, dandruff, oily bits, and other normal baby body adjustments to life outside the womb. Play with a bath toy. Sing. Make it a special time.
Why is it important to invest this much into the bath experience even when my baby is so young?Create a positive physical and emotional association with bathing and hygiene now, so it will shape your baby’s experience as they grow and become more active and willing (or potentially unwilling) bathing participants.
7. Clean baby
Gently run warm water over your baby’s body. Lather up the baby-friendly, no-tears soap and spread it over them. Clean those cute baby folds where dripped milk hides out, and clean behind the ears. Remember to be gentle – your baby hasn’t been doing any hard labor!
When you’re ready, rinse off the soap. Some choose to use a cup or bath glove, or a device like Yookidoo’s unique Elephant Baby Shower. If you’re using Yookidoo’s Elephant Baby Shower, its water stream will provide a unique experience for both you and your baby.
How does the Elephant Baby Shower enhance my baby’s bathing experience as I clean them?Your baby will encounter a lifetime of water flow. The Elephant Baby Shower gets them accustomed to it by way of a gentle, soothing stream designed especially for newborns.
Its flow is constant unlike other washing methods, for example a cup, where the water flow stops and starts suddenly and at random. The Elephant Baby Shower’s flow is also precise, so it can be directed at the tummy, hands, and legs as you wash them.
Don’t be afraid to direct the stream at the top of your baby’s head, letting it gently flow down their face. After a few weeks have passed, you can even softly direct the stream itself at your baby’s face. Your baby can handle these important sensations – and their natural reflex is to close their eyes.
8. Get your baby out of the tub
Grab the clean, dry towel that you left within arm’s reach. Remove your baby from the water and immediately wrap them up in it. Keep your baby wrapped as you dry them off.
Especially for the first few baths, you should dress your baby immediately. Later on, once they are bigger, familiar with the routine, less sensitive to temperature change, and more relaxed, you can keep most of your baby covered in the towel and massage one body part at a time with baby lotion or oil for a few minutes before getting them dressed.
Why is it so important to keep my baby wrapped up after the bath?Your baby has just been submerged in warm, relaxing water and the cooler air outside the tub can be a rude awakening. Keeping them wrapped in a towel will help maintain their body temperature and create a seamless transition and positive experience.
9. Reinforce the experience
In the beginning, your baby doesn’t need much stimulation in the bath. The sensation of being in the water, being washed all over, your gentle touch, and some very basic communication is enough.
After the first couple of weeks, however, you can start to gently expand the bathing experience with something that provides new forms of stimulation, like the Yookidoo Sensory Bath Mobile.
How will the Yookidoo Sensory Bath Mobile enhance my baby’s sensory experience in the bath?The Yookidoo Sensory Bath Mobile has brightly colored flowers that spin and sprinkle water and a swiveling bird that spray a gentle stream. The varied colors, movements, and water sensations with adjustable intensity will fascinate your baby and provide fun sensory stimulation as they bathe. Enjoying the bathing experience will also allow you to extend it.
10. Link bath time to bed time
We recommend making a bath part of your baby’s regular end-of-day routine, as a lead-up to bed time.
Why is it a good idea to link bathing and going to sleep?The advantage is that even a warm, soothing bath drops your baby’s body temperature a bit, and the lower temperature will make your baby tired, providing the perfect gateway to sleep.
A routine of bath time closely followed by bed time, can be good for parents, too. After birth and with adjusting to a newborn’s sleep patterns, many parents lose their sense of day and night. Time can feel removed from its cyclical nature, like it has no beginning or end. Instilling some form of routine into this hazy period is healthy, and creates a marker to anchor and divide up the day.
Finally, linking bathing and bed time on a daily basis also encourages a consistent change of mood for your baby that they can eventually anticipate – along with a transition from day-energy to night-lull. Potentially this can create a good, healthy habit and rhythm at an early age which will follow your child as they grow.
Creative and toy enthusiast Writer, Celebrating Discovery® and curiosity on a daily basis.