I’d like to begin with this piece of advice: prep everything ahead of time. It’s a tip I learned from my mentor Cheryl that 1.) I wish I’d learned earlier in LIFE, and 2.) has helped me in the classroom and in my transition to motherhood.
After you’ve gathered all your supplies (see my list below), use your baby tub or sink, and decide how to comfortably and safely hold your baby in a way that allows you to clean her. In the early weeks, a washcloth in one hand and 5 minutes can seriously be IT, especially while the umbilical cord and belly button are still healing. A sponge bath is plenty good. Wait until the scab falls off to submerge your baby. Once that happens and the area is healed, you can sit your baby in a tub of water, resting in a sling or in your arms (if you’re in the tub, too.) Softly talk to her and sing a song she likes. Then finish up before your baby gets cold. Baths are quick in the beginning! (Read more about cords and circumcision scabs on Dr. Sears’ website. I really like their advice for bathing newborns! Great article on approach, technique, frequency, soaps, and babies who fuss about bathing.)
When Molly was a newborn, baths were so fun and fast. She didn’t mind being naked, although we saved washing her head for last because we thought a wet head might make her cold faster. The first few times we bathed her, Trevor and I had this handoff maneuver where one of us would lift our slippery wet baby out of the water and pass her off to the other, who would “catch” her in the towel held open in this drapey sort of way. It’s good old-fashioned family fun! But sometimes I needed to bathe the baby when he was at work. Blame it on sleep deprivation, but eventually, I figured out a shortcut so bathing the baby could be a one-woman (or one-man) job: put a rocker in the bathroom. Ta-da!
Here’s my bath station prep list for newborns:
- A rocker. We kept one upstairs and one downstairs. This was the clincher for us. Bathroom floors are cold, hard, and unforgiving. Laying an open towel in the rocker before the bath makes a cozy space for baby to lay afterward while you get out of the tub, put away toys, etc. Place your wet baby in the rocker and wrap her up. Now she’s safe and your hands are free! A Boppy pillow can also cradle your babe.
- This towel by Clevamama is genius and my favorite, but really ANY absorbent hooded towel; a lot of those baby towels are way too thin.
- A tub with a sling. It holds the baby in a cradle and the rest of the baby tub can be filled with water so it makes washing a cinch. We used this when we didn’t want to sit in the tub with her AND when we wanted to shower while safely containing her. It sits on a counter or inside a full-size bathtub. I’ve also heard good things about the Puj for bathing in the sink and the Angelcare seat.
- Baby soap. Grown up soap is too harsh. We’ve tried Mustela and Honest Company, and liked both scents. Currently, we’re using Babyganics, and we like it so far.
- Duck thermometer – I loved this guy as a fast visual to tell if the water is too hot for her brand new skin. I always feel the water, too, before I put my baby in it. One thing I’ll add is that I never took the temperature of the water and compared it to the duck’s reading, but mostly found that there were times I thought the water felt fine that the duck declared it was too hot.
- Soft washcloths. My mom bought us some by Circo. They’re nice for washing and also for covering parts when your baby is so cute, you just have to take a picture! 🙂
- Never leave your baby alone, even for a second
- Feel the temperature of the water before your baby enters
- Talk to your baby; tell her what’s happening before, during, and after
- Keep your newborn baby’s mouth and nose above water
- Let your baby explore
- Channel your inner calm & share calming energy with your baby