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How to bath a baby

Bathtime can be a great chance for a bit of togetherness and some fun, really important if you're out at work all day. And it gives mum a bit of a break too, especially if she's been at home with Baby all day. It's also a great excuse for making a mess in the bathroom. Here's how you do it.

Before you start

  1. Make sure you've got plenty of time. It's no fun for anyone if you have to rush. If the phone goes, call them back.
  2. Make sure neither of you is tired or hungry, otherwise grumpiness will ruin the fun. And Baby won't enjoy it either.
  3. Bathroom nice and warm? Fill the bath with about 10 cm of warm (not hot) water. Test it with - yes - your elbow, just like in the movies. Your elbow feels temperature better than your hand - try it!
  4. Got everything? Couple of dry towels (warm, fluffy), fresh nappy, sponge or flannel, baby soap (although water on its own will do fine for the first few weeks), a plastic jug for pouring water over Baby, clean clothes.
  5. Talk about what you're doing. It'll help keep things calm.

Five top tips for keeping Baby safe in the bath.

  1. Cold water in the bath first.
  2. Mix cold and hot water thoroughly and test the temperature with your elbow (36C if you're using a thermometer).
  3. No more than 10 cm (four inches) of water.
  4. Never leave the baby alone in the bath - small babies can drown in a few inches of water.
  5. Ignore the phone and the doorbell.

Here we go

Follow these steps and you can't go wrong, but if you really get stuck, you can always ask the missus. Chances are the midwife has already shown her how to do it

  • Undress Baby, but keep the nappy on.
  • Wrap in a warm fluffy towel, with a bit folded over at the back so you can easily cover the head later.
  • Hold under the back, with legs tucked in your armpit and your hand under the head.
  • Tip Baby just a bit so the water doesn't run into the eyes.
  • Pour a little water over the head with the jug and massage it gently in (hair won't be dirty and grimy - so no need for heavy-duty hair washing here).
  • Rinse and pat head dry with a warm towel. Gently!
  • Unwrap. Nappy off and use it to clean up the worst of any poo. Keep the towel handy.
  • One of your arms behind the back - so back and head rest against the bend of your elbow - and catch hold of the furthest arm. Your other hand goes under the bottom and legs.
  • Lift Baby into the bath.
  • The sensation of water will be a bit strange, so go easy. Just sprinkle a little on until we seem happy with it and then you can pour from a jug. Stand by for screaming and don't push it. Happy is probably better than completely clean!
  • Water on its own is probably ok - we're not going to be dirty. If you do use soap, don't use too much - rinsing off will turn into a whole business.
  • If Baby's having fun, encourage a little splashing around. It will help get used to being in the bath and anyway it's dead cute.
  • Lift out onto the towel on your lap and wrap in the towel. Pat dry and dress.
  • One clean happy baby. Big hug.

Other things to remember

Umbilical cord

Keep this area clean and dry - with antiseptic tissues and powder - for a couple of weeks until the stump drops off. If you notice bleeding or a discharge, let your midwife know.

Nails

Keep them short with baby nail scissors to avoid face scratching. If you're going to cut them, try doing it while Baby's asleep, (hands won't be waving about). Or you can nibble the ends off with your teeth. Don't bite any fingers off though.

Genitals

Girls - always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria.
Boys - never ever pull back his foreskin. It takes months for it to separate from the rest of his penis.

Topping and tailing

It's not necessary to bath every day. You can wash face, neck and hands (special attention to the creases around the neck which get sweaty). Then the bottom.

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