Infant Bathing Techniques, Part 2: Newborn Bath Safety

Hey guys, this post is the second in a series I’m writing called Infant Bathing Techniques to provide a little guidance in the world of infant bath times. As a new parent, I remember feeling a tad lost about the whole bath time gig with my newborn baby. I felt like a lot of who I was becoming as a parent was trial and error, and I wasn’t exactly comfortable with that for awhile, especially with bath times. (When I’m trying something new, I’m the type that likes to watch someone do it first.) I’m the youngest in my family and never saw a newborn baby bathed in person… so my expectations were this: a sudsy Baby Molly in the sink while I smiled over her. I think I saw photos of my first bath and it seemed like the “normal” thing to do.

The reality is that I had no idea where to BEGIN to manifest that sweet image. My newborn baby was floppy and delicate, and I was sleep deprived and confused. Giving my baby a bath felt like it should be such a simple task, and eventually it was… I just needed to get over the hurdle of the first one. Like other new parenting skill sets I’ve learned (like breastfeeding and sign language), the combination of “flood of new info” + “vacuum of not-knowing” was a bit overwhelming at times. Yes? You’ve been there, too?

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Infant Bathing Techniques series. My overall goal is to set kids up for success as swimmers via bath time. “Part 2: Newborn Bath Safety” includes ideas for bathing your newborn baby safely and comfortably for all involved.

This post covers:

  • The bare necessities for the first baths… cuz keepin’ it simple is the key to easy
  • Infant Bathing Techniques: developmentally appropriate methods and techniques we tried with Molly for safe and comfortable baths
  • Molly’s bath stories: how my bathing practices became swimming practices

By 3+ Weeks: Sponge baths

You need: warm water + soft washcloth + baby soap (if needed)

  • In my arms in the tub: This was the most comfortable way for me to bathe Molly in the beginning. Sitting upright and next to the faucet, I cradled her in one arm, soaked a soft baby washcloth with warm running water, and then wiped her body, head to toe. With soap, it was kind of a trickier, one-handed deal, like laying the cloth down, pumping or squeezing a teensy amount of soap on it, and then washing her. Eventually, we pumped the soap directly onto her head or body. Afterward, I’d lay her on her towel in the rocker or handed her to her daddy. My biggest concerns were her safety and that she wasn’t cold during her bath or in her rocker.
  • In the sink: When I tried this, I plugged our bathroom sink, put a soft hand towel down, and filled it with a few inches of warm water. I wouldn’t do this with a newborn again. There are manufacturers that make a soft flexible bathtub for the sink, though, that probably work well. I didn’t love my towel method, but I would love to hear from you if you’ve had success with sink baths! (How’d you do it?)
  • Baby tub with sling: If you haven’t seen this contraption, it looks like a divine hot tub hammock. I want one for me. So comfy. I would not recommend this for exceptionally bouncy or roll-y babies. The baby tub sits on the floor of your bath tub or shower, or on top of your counter, and the sling stretches across it. Newborns kick back while you do the rest (with 2 hands.) BTW, fill it before baby sits inside it. 😉 You’ll want to check the temperature of the water first, and keep your newborn dry and cozy as long as possible (aka, wet and cold as little as possible.)

This is the second post in a series I wrote about bathing your newborn baby. Read the first post here. Or the next post here.

If you haven’t yet, follow me @jennyleakmiller on Instagram. Tag your little swimmer’s water baby photos with #poolmom so we can join in on the splashy fun!

Learning is gradual, for both of you. Take it easy, go slow, and give your baby what she needs to feel comfortable. I believe in your baby’s ability to learn this and in your ability to show her how. Safe swimming, everyone!

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2 thoughts on “Infant Bathing Techniques, Part 2: Newborn Bath Safety

  1. Kate Schmidt McMahan says:

    We used a baby bathtub with an infant sling from birth to 9 months. Our daughter seemed very comfortable and secure in it. We have the cute whale Skip Hop brand tub. It’s bulky, but the sling can be adjusted as they grow, have greater head support, and then removed when they can sit up. We began doing nightly baths as part of our bedtime routine around 7 weeks and used the tub daily until about 9 months. She started trying to pull herself out of it so now we give her free reign of the tub.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Kitchen sinks are usually larger and easier for bathing baby instead of bathroom sink! Also has more counter space around it to lay out towels, soap,etc. We had a nice 2-3 inch thick foam spongy mat made for baby baths, which went in the sink, then baby laid on it. Soft, comfy, and non-slip safe. Always worked well for you as a newborn! ❤️

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