Bathing a newborn baby can be a traumatic event for a first time dad. Newborns can seem so fragile, and wet, slippery ones downright frightening. But, don’t fear; once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like a pro. Newborns only need to be bathed two or three times a week and bathing more often can result in dry skin.
First of all, it’s important not to put your newborn in any sort of bathtub until her umbilical cord has fallen off (which should happen before the end of week 2). If your baby is circumcised, you need to wait until this has healed, as well. Until then, give your baby a sponge bath.
When it’s time to put baby in the tabletop tub, give her your undivided attention. Leaving her for even a minute can literally be fatal. Turn the answering machine on and ignore the doorbell. Never run the bath water with the baby in the tub. Fill the tub and check the temperature before you add the baby.
Be prepared for the fact that your baby will not like the bath (like at all!). There may be a lot of crying, so plan to make it as short as possible. They also may cry so hard they turn a deep red and almost purple. The bath water gets cold to the baby rather quickly; another reason to make it quick. One trick to help keep the water warm is to soak a towel in very warm water and lay it in the bottom of the tub. This keeps the water warmer, provides a nice cushion for baby, and keeps her from slipping around. Keep one hand under her head to support her neck, and keep her from slipping into the tub. Speak to her in soft soothing tones, reassuring her that everything is ok.
Use lukewarm water on your baby’s tender skin, and only soaps and shampoos designed for babies. In fact, during the first few weeks of life, until you’ve determined if your baby has any skin allergies, it might be wise to bathe her using only water, especially on her face. Have a towel and diaper ready to wrap her in immediately when you’re finished, to avoid her getting chilled.
As your baby gets older, bath time will probably become a favorite part of the day for your baby.