I have pictures from my first daughter’s first baby bath at home and let’s just say we are both crying!! While she eventually went on to love baths the first bath at home for her was traumatic for both of us, but luckily I learned from a friend who is also an L&D nurse the tips for a soothing newborn bath. First, you need to make sure you prepare the baby by giving them a feeding before bath time. Trust me a hungry baby will not be a happy baby in the bathtub. So I like to do bath time after feeding because it can lead to a great nap or bedtime. Then it’s time to prepare for a bath by grabbing the following:
1. Grab no less than three towels
One hooded towel for baby during the bath, one hooded towel for baby post bath, and one regular bath towel to create a soft landing spot for baby post bath on the counter, bed, or changing table.
2. Grab baby bath soap
I personally love the Dove Baby soap because it has an easy pump bottle, smells amazing, and leaves my baby’s skin feeling so soft. There is unscented for babies with sensitive skin too.
3. Wash rags
I also recommend using two. One to place on the baby’s tummy to keep them warm and secure. While having another where you will add soap and massage over the baby.
4. Grab a fresh diaper
You’ll want this ready!
5. Grab their new outfit or pajamas
I am loving these CL Brooks Blue Rainbow jammies for my little man.
6. Grab some lotion for post-bath
I love this Hello Bello baby lotion, which I also use for myself because of the amazing scent and clean ingredients.
This way you are prepared once your baby is done with the bath to quickly get their diaper on, lotion them up, and put them in their new outfit or pajamas.
Next up I highly recommend theAngelcare bathtub because it grows with the baby, which I’ll explain more about in a moment. I love that the Angelcare tub can be set up either on a kitchen counter for a sponge bath or in the tub for a more soaking newborn bath. Either way, the first step is to swaddle the baby with one of the hooded baby bath towels.
Then you will add baby to the Angelcare tub making sure to keep one hand on the baby.
Next, get one of the wash cloths wet with room temperature or slightly warmer water. You will put this washcloth on baby’s tummy to help them feel warmer and secure. I like to rewet this one throughout the bath to ensure it doesn’t get cold.
This little duck is not only cute but comes in super handy for knowing when water is a bit too hot for the baby.
Then, work quickly to wash from their toes to their head.
My L&D nurse friend taught me to do the baby’s head last because it can make them the most uncomfortable and make them cold if it is done first. Working quickly to wash them, pay special attention to get under their little necks and behind their ears where milk is most likely to get stuck in those early days. Then once you’ve washed all but their head it’s time to pull back the hooded towel and gently massage a bit of soap onto their head with your fingers or a soft bristle brush from the hospital. I always felt this was a great measure to prevent Cradle cap.
Finally, to rinse baby’s head, I like to hold them in a football hold while pouring water away from their eyes. Remember they should still be wrapped securely in the hooded towel so which is slightly damp if you are doing the sponge bath or soaked if you’ve done a more immersive bath in the tub. Once you’ve rinsed the baby wash from their hair it’s time to transfer baby to the new dry hooded towel and I like to do this by having that towel setup on the regular bath towel wherever you prefer to work either a changing table, kitchen or bath counter, or a bed.
The key here is to quickly get baby out of the damp/wet hooded towel and into the dry one and snuggle them up.
If baby wasn’t happy during the bath despite keeping them warm and calm with the hooded towel and warm wash rag then I recommend you quickly put their diaper on then nurse or feed them. Perhaps they didn’t get enough prior to the bath and this comfort feeding will help reassure them that bath time isn’t all terrible. Next, add some soothing lotion and dress them as you normally would.
I love when bath time becomes a soothing activity for newborns, but trust me even if the first few times are unpleasant keep up the good work parents because eventually, it will get easier for everyone. My little man is now 6 months old and simply by flipping the Angelcare tub over it allows for a supportive little basket for him to bathe. I always have one hand on him, but he loves grabbing for these little boats and splashing. I’ve modified his routine just a bit, but honestly, I still love making sure I’ve got everything set up for a smooth transition both into and out of the tub.
Hope these tricks and tips help create a fun bath time experience for you and your newborn!