A gentle sponging is all the bathing a newborn needs. He’ll finally be ready for his first real bath once the umbilical stump falls out and the area has healed. This happens after about two weeks after giving birth. At that point in time, you would have already gotten to know each other a bit, and you’ll be more comfortable and confident about handling him in water and in general. Since first baths can be a little stressful, it’s best to start when your baby is calm. Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and less likely to be interrupted. It’s nice when he’s wide awake and alert, so you can share the experience. If he’s already fussy or crying, wait until he settles.
What you first need to do is assemble all the accessories you’ll need: a soft washcloth, towels, and mild baby soap. An extra pair of hands can help too because you’ll need to keep one hand in contact with your baby from start to finish. Set up a safe, secure place for the little plastic bathing tub and where you’ll have room for all your supplies. This tub should be easier to use when it is the one that slopes upward to elevate the baby’s head. You may even try the kitchen table or the changing table. Fill the tub with just enough water for your baby to float in but not be submerged. Around two inches of water should be enough. After all, your baby can drown even in a few inches deep, so stay with him throughout. Placing a towel or sponge pad on the bottom of the baby tub will help keep him from slipping. Don’t undress him until everything is ready to go, so that he stays warm.
Test the water temperature with your elbow and make sure that it is warm, not hot. Then, slowly and gently place your baby in the water tummy up. He may startle and cry at first contact, but a well-heated room, a gentle touch, and your quiet reassuring voice can soothe him. In the beginning, baths should be as short as possible to keep your baby comfortable. But if he doesn’t relax after the first few attempts, there’s no need to continue. Sponge baths will do until he’s ready. You can try after a week or two, and he’s immediately get accustomed to the new environment.
Later, when he’s learned to enjoy them, baths can be a great way to help him relax when he’s riled up and needs help soothing. Watch him closely and he’ll tell you with his facial expressions and body movements what he’s thinking. As he grows, bathing will become an opportunity for restfulness, play, and together time with you. Furthermore, when he’s old enough to sit, he can use a regular bathtub. Nonetheless, he’ll still need the constant supervision of an adult. Your job is to make the experience less traumatic if your baby doesn’t take to water immediately. Don’t worry and stress over it too much. Eventually, he will grow to love the water.