Do you want to give your baby his first bath, but you have no idea when is the best time to do so? Do not panic ! We explain everything to you in this article.
The first bath of an infant is symbolically an important stage during its first months. It is therefore essential to understand when and how to do it. Let's get started without further ado!
When should you give your baby the first bath?
While not even a few decades ago babies were bathed almost as soon as they were born, doctors now recommend waiting at least 24 hours before giving newborns their first bath. Indeed, as indicated by the WHO, scientific research and statistics have proven that it is preferable to avoid washing the baby's skin during the first six hours after birth. Incidentally, this is also the lowest bar that the WHO tolerates, if the child should be bathed for religious or cultural reasons.
Why is it advisable to wait 24 hours before bathing a newborn?
There are many reasons for this delay:
From body temperature to blood sugar levels : if a baby is given a bath immediately, he is more likely to get cold and thus suffer from hypothermia. It can also lead to low blood sugar levels, which can quickly become dangerous, given the fragility of newborns.
Maternal attachment and breastfeeding : as you can imagine, bathing the baby too early has the potential to disrupt the relationship that is created between the mother and her child, when the latter comes into physical contact with her. It can also prevent the breastfeeding of the baby, who needs to identify his mother before starting to nurse. According to a medical study, simply postponing the first bath for 12 hours increases the success rate of breastfeeding by 166%.
Skin dryness : the white, waxy substance that can be seen on the baby's body when it is born is called vernix. It contains a powerful antibacterial agent and naturally moisturizes the skin. For these reasons, specialists insist that the substance should not be removed from birth. Moreover, the latter is essential for babies who are born prematurely, and whose skin is generally dry by nature.
How often is it recommended to bathe a baby?
Contrary to what most new parents may think, babies don't need to bathe every day. This is because they sweat very little and their limited exposure to their surroundings prevents them from getting too dirty.
During the first year, three baths a week may be sufficient. This is because more frequent baths can dry out your baby's skin and cause skin problems.
Should we wait for the fall of the medical cord to give the baby his first bath?
You should bathe your baby only after the umbilical cord is completely dry. Normally, this takes between one and two weeks. If this does not happen after fifteen days, consider consulting a doctor.
How to bathe your baby?
For newborns, it is rather recommended to wash them with a sponge. This means that you should not use a lot of water, as this will allow you to avoid a number of health hazards for the baby. Here's how to do it:
- Prepare everything you need before you start. You will need a basin of water, baby shower gel, a washcloth and a towel. Place your baby on a flat, comfortable surface. You can in this case use a table, a high chair, or a counter located near the sink. Protect your baby from hard surfaces by placing him on a blanket or towel. If your child is on a high surface, be sure to tie him down or hold him with one hand to prevent falls.
- Begin by gently washing the baby's face. To do this, use a glove, making sure that the water does not touch his eyes. Babies are easily irritated and water in the eyes can easily hurt them. Then, soak the glove in water before cleaning the rest of the body.
- Make sure your baby is not cold. During the bath, wrap the child in a very dry towel. Then proceed in stages, exposing only the parts you are cleaning. Don't forget to clean the folds under the arms, behind the ears, at the level of the neck and between the legs.
When will the baby be able to take baths more regularly?
Once your baby's belly button wound has healed, you can try to immerse him directly in water. Remember that the first baths should be as short as possible and remember to be gentle when bathing your baby, otherwise your baby may react negatively. Do not be afraid ! If yours feels uncomfortable, he'll probably let you know.
Precautions to take before bathing your baby
In order to bathe your baby in the best conditions, you must take a few essential measures.
Where should a baby be washed?
Start by using a specially designed baby tub or sink. It is strongly recommended to avoid bathtubs for adults, as they pose a risk of fatal danger for babies of all ages. On the other hand, a hard plastic tub can do just fine. You can opt for a model that has an inclined and rough surface, which will allow you to put your baby in a comfortable position while preventing him from slipping.
Do not forget to check that the baby bath you are going to buy does indeed comply with European safety standards. Alternatively, you can choose to bathe your baby in a sink or plastic tub covered with a clean towel. Sometimes simplicity is the best option, but be careful. Sinks can be slippery and they may have baby-safe features, such as metal faucets.
You should also know that it is never recommended to use seats. The latter force the child to sit up straight in an adult bathtub. That said, because of their very young age, they can easily fall and seriously injure themselves.
How to watch a baby in his bath?
Make sure you always keep an eye on your baby when he's bathing. Keep all necessary accessories close at hand. This will allow you to constantly monitor the child for the duration of the bath.
If you absolutely have to leave the bathroom, you must always take your child with you. That said, it is better to stay until the end, because leaving the bathroom quickly, your baby may catch cold.
Always check the water temperature
Before putting your child in his small bathtub, remember to always check the temperature of the water beforehand. Make sure the water is hot enough to prevent your child from catching cold, but make sure it's not too hot to avoid burning sensitive skin. Note that since you are an adult, your heat tolerance is considerably higher than your baby's.
Fortunately, there are tricks that will allow you to find the right temperature to take. Indeed, you simply need to feel the water using the back of your hand or, ideally, your elbow. These two parts of the body are much more sensitive to heat and they will allow you to feel about the same level of heat as your child.
If you run the water from the faucet, turn on the cold water first. Thus, you will be able to avoid splashing hot water and protect your child. Ideally, the temperature of a baby bath should never exceed 48 degrees Celsius. Beyond that, your child may suffer burns. If you have a water heating system, do not hesitate to use it in order to maintain this same temperature throughout the duration of the bath.
Don't underestimate the risks that come from hot tap water. The latter can cause serious burns that require hospitalization or even surgery. Moreover, it is important to note that burns caused by hot water are the main cause of burns in babies and young children.
To keep your baby's body temperature at a comfortable level, follow these simple steps:
- After undressing him, immerse him immediately in water to avoid cooling.
- Support the baby's head with one hand and use the other to guide him through the water, feet first.
- Talk constantly with your child to reassure him. He may not realize that you're washing him, and even if he trusts you, it's completely normal for him to start panicking.
- Slowly lower the rest of the child's body until completely submerged.
- For safety, keep baby's head and shoulders out of the water.
- Continue to pour hot water little by little into the bath, in order to maintain the correct water temperature.
Products to use when bathing a baby
It is strongly advised to use the soap in moderation. Indeed, while soaps are well known for their benefits on the skin, they can also dry it out, especially in the case of your child's skin, which is still particularly fragile.
For this reason, it is always better to use baby soap, which contains only natural elements. Even in this case, it is better to rinse your baby's skin immediately after having soaped it, in order to limit the risk of drying out. Wash your child's hair a maximum of three times a week using a special baby shampoo.
Baby hair cleansing
Don't panic if patches appear on your baby's scalp. Their appearance is frequent in newborns and they pose no risk to their health. Simply use a soft brush to gradually release them. Take your time and don't try to get rid of it right away.
The process can take months and is best done gently. Do not use tools that are too rigid, which can end up injuring your child's skin. In fact, many parents prefer not to touch them. The patches are unlikely to bother your baby, and your baby will certainly heal on its own.
baby bath toys
At first, when your baby is still a newborn, you won't necessarily need toys to distract him, because water alone is more than enough to arouse his curiosity. However, as the months pass, you will notice that his attention becomes progressively difficult to capture. It is at this time that we advise you to introduce him to some toys.
Naturally, these should not include any electronic element, if they are not waterproof. So think about buying toys of this type, such as floating toys, as soon as the opportunity arises. You'll need it much sooner than you think.
Once you've finished bathing your baby, take him out quickly and wrap him in a soft towel or two so he doesn't catch a cold. Rub the baby's body with the towel until the skin is dry. Do the same for his head and make sure his hair is no longer wet. To finish, pass a moisturizer on his body and put his clothes on him.
Up to you !