Bathing your baby
It is a good idea to have a regular time for bathing your baby so that she gets used to a routine and you can plan around it. But you should not worry if you do not have time to bath your baby every day. It is not essential, although your baby is likely to feel fresher after it, especially in summer. You can just top and tail her by wiping her face and washing the nappy area if you do not bath her.
Start about an hour before your babys next feed is due so that she does not become ravenous halfway through. This could be before the midmorning feed or before the six oclock feed at night. Bathing your baby at night gives the father a chance to become involved, but it is also a very busy time for you so you will have to work out what suits you best.
Close all the windows and make sure the room is reasonably warm if the weather is very cold. Get your babys clean clothes ready in the order you will be putting them on. Attach the pins to your clothes so that you do not mislay them, and fold the nappy. Fold the top of the towel back about 30 cm and keep it handy. Put cold water in the bath first then add the hot. Test with your elbow – it should be comfortably warm. A rubber mat with suction pads to put in the bath will make it less slippery.
Undress your baby, leaving the nappy on. Now wrap her in the towel. The part that is folded back should be on the outside. Wrap her securely by taking the left side of the towel across her body and tucking it in under her arm.
Fold the bottom part of the towel up over her feet, and then take the remaining part of the towel over the exposed arm and tuck it around her to make a neat parcel.
Wipe her face with cotton wool or a soft cloth (keep it separate from the one you use for her bottom you can mark it with a piece of coloured tape). See p. 36 for how to make a muslin washcloth.
Holding the baby securely under your arm, with your fingers gently but firmly over her ears, wash her hair with a special baby shampoo or baby soap. Do not be afraid to touch the soft spot on her head, it will not harm her. Rub her hair dry by folding up the towel. Babies sweat from their scalps, so in summer you can wash it every day, however twice a week is usually enough.
Now take off her nappy and wipe away any soiling with cotton wool. Soap her all over with a mild baby soap, making sure you get into the creases at the top of the legs, around the buttocks and under the arms, or do it in the bath so that she does not feel cold.
Holding her securely with your arm supporting her head and your fingers gripping her upper arm, put your baby in the bath and rinse off the soap. Very young babies like to be held very firmly or they become frightened in the water. You can also put a wash cloth over her tummy to make her feel more secure if she appears afraid.
Pat her dry while cuddling her in your arms or dry her on the changing mat but keep her covered with the towel. Make sure you dry very well in all the creases, especially around the neck. If you want to use powder, shake a little into your hand and rub it gently over your baby. Never shake out clouds of powder because it may be harmful if inhaled. If you do use baby oil add only a few drops to the bath water.
Baby lotion can be used to clean the buttocks between nappy changes, or if the skin is dry, it can be smoothed in as needed. When cleaning your baby, always wipe from the front to the back as germs can easily enter the urethra, especially in a girl, and cause an infection. Dress your baby quickly on a dry surface slipping her clothes over her head as shown.
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