Bathing your newborn Techniqe II

Should I wash my newborn's hair?

Yes, if it seems dirty or your baby develops cradle cap — a common condition characterized by scaly patches on the scalp.

Supporting your baby's head and shoulders with your free hand, gently massage a drop of mild baby shampoo into your baby's scalp. Rinse the shampoo with a damp washcloth. If your baby has cradle cap, loosen the scales with a soft-bristled baby brush or toothbrush before rinsing off the shampoo.

What type of baby tub is best?

When your baby graduates from sponge baths, you'll have plenty of choices. Many parents use plastic tubs specifically designed for newborns. Others opt for plain plastic basins or inflatable tubs that fit inside the bathtub. Lined with a towel or rubber mat, the kitchen or bathroom sink may be another option.

Safety is the most important consideration — not necessarily the type of tub. Gather your supplies ahead of time so that you can keep one hand on the baby at all times. If you're interrupted, take your baby with you. Never leave your baby alone in the water.

How much water should I put in the tub?

You'll need only a few inches of warm water. At first, you may want to lather your baby on a towel and use the tub only for rinsing.

What about water temperature?

Warm water is best. To prevent scalding, set the thermostat on your water heater to below 120 F. Always check the water temperature with your hand before bathing your baby.

Keep room temperature in mind as well. A wet baby may be easily chilled. Be sure the room is comfortably warm — about 75 F.

What's the best way to hold my newborn in the tub?

Photo of parent holding baby in tubUse your arm and hand to hold your baby in the tub or under the faucet.

A secure hold will help your baby feel comfortable — and stay safe — in the tub. Support your baby's head and torso with your arm and hand. Wrap your arm under your baby's back, grasping your baby firmly under the armpit. When you clean your baby's back and buttocks, lean him or her forward on your arm. Continue to grasp your baby under the armpit.

To rinse your baby's hair, try a football hold under the faucet. Support your baby's back with your arm, keeping a firm hold on your baby's head while you rinse.

What should I wash first?

Most parents start with the baby's face and move on to dirtier parts of the body. Wash inside skin folds, and rinse the genitals carefully. You may want to save the hair for last to help your baby preserve body heat.

Do I need a special type of soap?

No. In fact, plain water is fine for newborns. When needed, use a mild moisturizing soap. Avoid bubble bath and scented soaps.

Will lotion after a bath help prevent rashes?

No. Most newborns don't need lotion after a bath. In fact, greasy lotions or ointments may make a rash more likely by blocking your baby's tiny sweat glands. The best way to prevent rashes is to dry inside your baby's folds of skin after each bath.

Is it better to bathe my baby in the morning or at night?

That's up to you. Choose a time when you're not rushed or likely to be interrupted. Some parents opt for morning baths, when their babies are alert and ready to enjoy the experience. Others prefer evening baths as part of a calming bedtime ritual.

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