Bathing and Care

Sponge Bathing

Until your baby’s umbilical cord is healed, and if you have a boy, the circumcision is healed your healthcare provider may instruct you to sponge bathe your baby. The first bath you give your baby as you get home from the hospital may be scary. Your whole family and the neighbors may be there for support and to help you out. You’ll find that it may take you an hour to bathe this tiny little thing that is not even dirty.

Your mothers and grandmothers will tell you that they bathed their babies every day. What is known now is that it can be harsh to your baby’s skin to expose him to water and soap every day. You are essentially washing the “dirty parts” every time you change a diaper. Let’s face it, your little one is not getting very dirty at this point. A bath every few days will be fine. Check with your healthcare provider for a routine that is best for your baby’s skin.

Bathing your baby is another new experience for you, especially if you have never been around newborns. Please know that in no time you will be able to do a sponge bath in minutes. Your confidence and skills as new parents will kick in rather quickly.

When to give a baby the first tub bath is a matter of some debate. It is still general practice to advise parents to sponge bathe baby until the cord falls off and the circumcision heals. There are some healthcare providers that question the necessity of this advice, feeling that an immersion bath does not increase the risk of infection. Please check with the healthcare provider that is caring for your baby and follow the directions that are given to you on tub bathing.

Steps to help you with bathing your baby:

  • Bathe the baby before a feeding. With all the jostling, a feeding will just come up.
  • Pick an area in the house where you will be comfortable bathing.
  • Make sure all of the bath supplies are in reach. Make it a rule NEVER to leave your baby unattended. He could roll off the surface you have him on.
  • Choose an area that is draft free.
  • Lay the baby on a towel and undress. Cover him up with a second blanket and only expose the area you are washing.
  • Start with the eyes. With a clean corner of a wash cloth, wash from the inner aspect of the eye to the outer aspect using warm water. Repeat with the other eye, this time using another corner of the washcloth.>li?
  • Wash the baby’s face with clean water. You may choose to use a washcloth or your hand.
  • Wash around the nose and ears. Never insert a cotton swab up your baby’s nose or into the ear. You are only asking for problems if you attempt doing this. You can cause much damage, especially to the ear drum.
  • Wash the baby’s body making sure you get into every fold and crevice.
  • Check the umbilical cord for proper healing. Keep the stump clean and dry as it shrivels and eventually falls off. Use clean, warm water unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider. Also, roll the diaper below the cord to keep urine from soaking the dried stump. You may see a few drops of blood on the diaper around the time the stump falls off; this is normal.