Infant Bathing Techniques, Part 2: Newborn & Infant 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. 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 fam and never saw a newborn baby bathed… 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. Uh… that couldn’t be all, right?

This post covers:

  • My experience getting myself into the right mindset
  • 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

The reality is that I had no idea where to BEGIN to manifest that sweet image of baby bathtime. My newborn baby was floppy and delicate, and I was sleep deprived and confused, not to mention recovering from L A B O R. I’m sure I googled “best way to bathe your newborn baby” 10 times. 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? This is the time to learn by doing.

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.

By 3+ Weeks: Sponge baths

You need: warm water + soft washcloth + baby soap (if there’s poop)

  • In my arms in the tub: Newborn babies like their mamas’ faces. New mamas might enjoy a warm bath. Put it all together and what do you get? My favorite, most comfortable way to bathe Molly safely while keeping her warm during the bath and afterward.
    • Sit upright and next to the faucet, cradling baby in one arm
    • Soak a soft baby washcloth with warm running water
    • Wipe her body, head to toe
    • Afterward, lay her on a towel in the rocker or hand her to someone

We didn’t use soap until she was older, unless she’d just made us a “present.” 🙂 Soap can dry out baby’s skin and adds a layer to the maneuver. It’s a one-handed deal. Eventually, we pumped the soap directly onto her head or body. 

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  • In the sink: One time I tried a sink bath where 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 again. Lesson learned! There are manufacturers that make a soft flexible bathtub for the sink, though, that probably work well. I didn’t love my towel method. I would love to hear from you if you’ve had success with sink baths! 
  • 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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3 thoughts on “Infant Bathing Techniques, Part 2: Newborn & Infant 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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