Popular Bath Safety Questions and Answers
January is National Bath Safety Month, and what better way to take part than to learn some extra safety tips on how to bathe your baby, and to stock up on some bath supplies that will make bath time more enjoyable for you and your little one.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby?
For newborns, daily baths are not necessary. Skipping a bath every day or so is absolutely fine, and you can keep your baby clean by using a warm cloth to wipe their face, bottom, and hands. This way your little one can still keep most of their clothing on to stay warm. Older babies can also skip a day or two between baths, but many moms find that bath time is a great part of a bedtime routine.
Where Should You Bathe Your Baby?
When your baby is first born, baths are shorter and less about actually putting your baby in a tub full of water. You can bathe your newborn in the sink, or even in their room with a small bowl or tub of water. Make sure you have a good grip on your baby and use a towel to help keep them warm as you bathe them.
As your baby gets a little bit older, the sink can be a great place to bathe your baby. It's easier to hold onto your baby since the sink is counter height, and it takes less water to fill the sink, making it a safer place than the tub. You can use a baby bath tub that fits in the bath tub, just use a towel or something under your knees on the hard bathroom floor.
As your baby grows older, you can use the actual tub. Many parents like to climb into the bathtub with their baby. This not only keeps your baby safe while in the bath but makes bath time fun for everyone. Consider the tub only when your baby is able to sit up on their own. You may still consider using the baby bath tub to use less water and make bath time safer.
How Long Should a Bath Be?
Baths for newborns should be kept shorter. Basically, you want the bath to not be much longer than the amount of time it takes to bathe the baby. This is because newborns are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
As your baby gets older, they can start to actually play in the bath. Bath times will vary for babies, but keep an eye on their skin to know when bath time is over. Pruny fingers and toes are a good indicator that it's time for young babies to end their baths.
As your baby reaches one year they can stand to play for even longer in the tub. Throughout your babies growth, keep an eye on the water temperature. Once it starts becoming cold that is a good time to end the bath.
Can I Shower with My Baby?
Yes! You can! Many parents find showering with their baby, not only makes bath time a breeze but it also is a great chance to bond with your baby skin to skin. Just be sure to have a safe and firm hold on your baby, especially when washing them.
Bath Time Tips
Many moms choose to sponge bathe their baby for the first week or so, to avoid bathing in a tub. When you are ready for your first tub bath, here are some tips on how to make it an enjoyable and safe experience:
Pick the right time for bathing
When you are introducing your baby to bathing or helping them get used to the sensation, it is best to choose a time when both you and your baby are relaxed. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, be it the morning, afternoon or night, your bath times will be more successful with a relaxed mom and baby.
Bathing your baby before bedtime or nap-time is a great way to calm them down, and ease them into a comfortable sleep.
Test the water
The bathwater should be lukewarm. Use the inside of your elbow to test the temperature of the water, it is more sensitive than your hand and should be a good indication of whether or not the water is at the right temperature. If you are bathing your baby in a sink instead of a baby tub, place a towel at the bottom to prevent slipping.
Ease your baby into the water
For first time parents, it can be quite daunting doing the first bath at home. It is best to introduce them to the bath slowly. Remove your baby’s clothing and diaper, and slowly lower your baby into the bath using one arm. Until you get used to holding your baby with one arm and washing them at the same time, you could ask your partner for help to either hold your baby or to wash them gently. Start by gently wiping the face, ears, and eyes, moving slowly down to the torso, legs, and bum.
Don’t take too long
Babies are born without much body fat and can become cold quickly in the bath. If your baby starts looking cold, starts crying or soils the bath, it is better to just cut the bath short. Try and soothe your baby by singing a song to quickly wash them up and then wrap them up snug in a warm towel.
Dry your baby thoroughly
Once bath time has finished, dry your baby carefully, paying attention to drying the little folds of skin. If these areas remain wet, it could lead to rashes and irritation. Babies do not need to be lathered in body lotion regularly, but if you do want to use one, make sure it is hypoallergenic and safe to use on your baby’s skin.
A pro tip is to dry and dress your baby on the floor after the bath. This is a lot safer than trying to do it all on their diaper changing pad. As your baby gets older, this is especially true.
Cut Down on Distractions
When bathing your baby, put away your phone and be fully present in the moment. This will create a safe and engaging environment for your baby, allow you to be fully focused on their safety, and to foster creative play in the bathtub.
Bathing Supplies – What You Really Need for Newborns
The last thing you want is to be holding your baby in the bath, only to realize you have left one of the bathing supplies in the other room. Make a mental checklist before each bath time, or always keep bathing supplies close to the tub for easy access.
A soft washcloth is the easiest and safest thing to use to wash your baby. Make sure it is soft and not irritating, and clean before use. Loofahs and other shower sponges that stay in the tub or shower can collect germs. They are also often harsh or scratch on your baby's delicate skin. Baby washcloths are designed to be gentle, but you can use other washcloths as long as they clean and soft.
You do not need to overdo it with the soap. Use a gentle, baby-friendly soap to lightly cleanse your baby’s skin. Often soaps will be perfumed, or contain essential oils. For your newborn use gentle soap free of additives. As your baby grows, choosing a soap with lavender for baths before bedtime can help to soothe your baby and prepare them for bedtime.
If you paid attention for your baby's first bath, hospital staff, midwives, and doulas often use cotton pads for newborn baths. If you are bathing a newborn the choice is yours. You can continue with cotton pads for their entire bath and transition to washcloths as your baby leaves the infant stage. For older babies, cotton pads are used to wipe around the eye area. They are soft and will not cause any irritation, and do well to pick up any dirt left around the eyes.
Keep your baby’s towel close by to wrap them up after bath time, as your baby will quickly become cold when taken out of the warm water. Cute baby towels with the hoods are great because you can quickly wrap baby up and absorb the excess water. Large "adult" towels can be a bit scratchy on your newborn baby's skin. It's helpful to have a baby or newborn towel as these are soft, tend to have a limited amount to no fuzz, and be more comfortable. As your children grow you can transition to hooded bathrobes too.
Clothes and Diapers
Try to keep clothes and diapers close by to dress your baby up soon after being taken out of the bath, to keep them warm and comfortable. Young babies have a hard time regulating their body temperature and can lose heat quickly. Once you take your baby out of the bath water and dry them off, you'll want to be able to dress them with ease. Having your diapers and next outfit on hand can help.
Bath Supplies for Older Babies
Bath Mat or Textured Stickies
As your baby is able to move around, creating a nonstick surface for your tub is essential for a safe bath. Moving around in the tub can create a number of slips and slides for your little one. If you share a shower, and find these get in your way, chose an option that suction cups in place for easy application and removal.
Faucet and Drain Covers
Shiny metal is always an attraction for babies. We recommend silicone faucet and drain covers to make these bath hazards safer. You can find these on amazon and in different stores. They come in fun colors and shapes like whales!
Celebrating Bath Safety
Bathing your newborn can be such a special moment, but for many parents, it can be quite stressful. Take things slow, pick a time where both you and your baby are relaxed, and lastly, be prepared. This will ensure you and your baby will have a wonderful bath time.