Giving a Tub Bath
Once what is left of the umbilical (belly button) cord has fallen off, your newborn can graduate to a tub bath. Because a regular, adult-sized bathtub may be awkward or uncomfortable for you, and wastes water, many parents use the bathroom or kitchen sink. A plastic infant bathtub may be even easier; it may even include a mesh sling for use with newborns and have other attachments to accommodate your growing baby.
Wherever you choose to give your baby a tub bath, be sure to have everything ready before you begin. Once the baby is in the water, NEVER leave him unattended, even for a second. You will need soap and shampoo, a soft washcloth, a towel, a clean diaper, and pajamas or a change of clothing.
Fill the basin or the sink with an inch or two of warm (not hot) water. Test the water's temperature with your wrist or elbow; it should be cooler than your own bath water — between 90° F and 100° F. To make the tub less slippery, line it with a towel or use a rubber mat.
Using both hands, gently and slowly lower your baby into the bath water, allowing him time to adjust to the new experience. Support his head with one arm securely under and around him, leaving your other hand free for washing.
If your baby's face has dry skin or any rash, use only water on the face, not soap. For the rest of the body, use any gentle, moisturizing soap. It's not necessary to use special "baby" soaps. Many parents find it easier to soap their baby's skin with their hands, rather than a washcloth.
When you're finished, lift him out with one hand around his shoulders and the other under his bottom. Wrap the baby in a towel and pat him dry, paying special attention to the skin creases.
Lotions and powders are not necessary. However, if you do use powder, be very careful that you use it very sparingly, preferably putting it on your hands first and then on the baby, so that your baby doesnt breathe any into his or her lungs. Look for powders with cornstarch instead of talcum (unless your baby has a diaper rash, as cornstarch powders can make some diaper rashes worse check with your doctor).
Remember, no matter how shallow the water level, once the baby is in the water, NEVER leave the baby alone, even for a second.
Visit our slide show to see how to give your baby a tub bath.
Last updated May 29, 2011