20 Frequently Asked Baby Bathing Questions

baby bathingWe know those new parent fears first time moms are often faced with. We will cover all the basics you need to know on bathing your baby. Rest assured knowing that you will be well prepared for your baby’s first bath with the know-how and information to help you through different obstacles and stages of bathing.

We will cover how to bathe a newborn, bath supplies you will need, and bathing safety procedures for getting your baby as fresh as daisy. Here I have compiled a list of 20 most commonly asked questions by new moms when it comes to bathing an infant.

1. What kind of tub should I use?
There are so many different kinds of baby bath tubs out there that are available. Choosing one that works well for you depends on your preference and particular situation. Do you live in an apartment or mobile home where space is limited? Do you plan on traveling frequently? Would you prefer bathing them in the kitchen or the bathroom? These are all factors to consider when looking into getting an infant tub as there are tubs and bathers made specifically for different such as those designed for the sink, ones that fold for easy storage, and some designed to grow with your baby. Refer to our buying guide for a list on different tub choices.

2. What kind of soap should I use for my baby?
A baby’s skin is very delicate and sensitive so you need a gentle soap that is formulated specifically for babies. There are hundreds of types of baby bath wash and shampoo. The one you choose is entirely up to you and what your baby will take well to. There are your more popular large brand name products such as Johnson & Johnson or all-natural and organic. Personally, I always liked the Burt’s Bees products.

3. When can I start giving my baby a bath?
Your newborn can not be submerged in water during the first couple of weeks while the umbilical cord stump is healing. You will need to give your baby sponge baths to clean them until the cord falls off. For little boys, your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding circumcision care if you have them circumcised.

4. How often should I bathe my baby?
Your baby won’t get really dirty other than the occasional blow outs or messy spit ups so a bath 3-4 times a week is sufficient. Your baby’s skin loses moisture rapidly and frequent bathing can dry it out even faster. Some parents, however, do like to make their bedtime routine with a baby bath, bottle, then bed. If a nighttime bath doesn’t appear to bother your baby’s skin, this is fine. 

5. Can I use bubble bath for my baby?
Although there are bubble bath products targeted for infants, it is not recommended for children under 3 years of age as it can lead to a urinary tract infection. Sitting in soapy water or bubble bath for prolonged length of time can cause irritation to baby’s urethra which can lead to painful urination. To avoid this, limit the time your baby sits in a sudsy bath and skip the bubbles.

6. Can I use cotton swabs to clean my baby’s ears?
Despite doctors’ orders against using Q-tips in the ears, many people continue to do so. You should never insert anything into your baby’s (or your own for that matter) ear canal as it can further push the wax into the ear canal and potentially bust the ear drum. The ears are self-cleaning, therefore the wax is your body’s natural mechanism for protecting them. If you notice a build up on the outer part of the ear canal you can simply wipe it away with a washcloth. Your doctor may use a specific tool for removing excessive ear wax to look into the ears. Leave it to the professionals.

7. My baby screams every time we give him a bath. How can I ease his bath time fears?
It is not uncommon for babies to fear the bath tub. You can help make bath time more relaxing by easing them into it. A few tips for helping your baby become more comfortable:

  • Take baby in the tub with you (just be sure the water temperature is safe for baby)
  • Gradually introduce your baby to the tub to show them it’s not scary. Seat them in the tub without water and a few toys. You can also give sponge baths with them sitting in their tub until they are comfortable enough to be put in with it filled.
  • Be patient. Don’t force your baby into the bath if they show resistance. They won’t be scared of the bath forever and some may take a little more time to warm up to it.

8. What are Phthalates and should I be concerned about them in my baby’s shampoo, lotion and other skin care products?
Phthalates are chemicals commonly found in toys, plastic containers, and baby care products. It is used to soften and lubricate substances or skin and extend fragrance in products. Though many studies and research suggest that the amount babies are exposed to pose no harm, it can enter baby’s system through ingestion when babies are teething or mouthing (i.e. frequently putting hands and feet in mouth). If you are concerned about the products you are using containing phthalates you can avoid exposure by limiting the amount you use on infants younger than 8 months who are prone to have higher levels in their system with exposure. Also avoid applying lotion to areas that babies commonly put in their mouths such as hands and feet. There are several baby care products on the market that you can find which omit these ingredients such as Burt’s Bees.

9.  Where is the best place to bathe my baby?
The best place for bathing your baby is near a water source such as the kitchen or the bathroom. The bathroom is generally a good place for bathing as it is usually a smaller room that is easier to keep at a comfortable temperature while bathing baby. Many parents prefer to use the kitchen sink (or a tub that fits in the kitchen sink) as it is a more comfortable height for bathing younger infants than bending over a bath tub. It really doesn’t matter where you bathe your baby as long as you gather all of your supplies before and follow bathing safety tips.

10. When is the best time to bathe my baby?
For newborns, morning is the ideal time to give your baby a bath when they are more alert. As they get a little older, bath time is generally better at night as part of a bedtime routine to help baby calm down and get ready for bed.

11. What is the best way to give a baby a bath?
Gather all of your bathing essentials where you plan on giving baby a bath beforehand. Refer to our Bathing Your Newborn guide for a more detailed list of supplies you will need. Once you have everything ready, fill the tub with warm water (90 -100 degrees) no more than 4 inches deep. Follow these steps to bathe your baby and help keep them calm and relaxed during bath time:

  • Slowly bring your baby into the tub with feet first making sure to support their head and neck.
  • Throughout the bath pour water over your baby to help keep them from getting too cold while cleaning.
  • If using soap/shampoo, begin draining water while shampooing baby’s hair, which should be the last step, so they aren’t sitting too long in soapy water. Pour cupfuls of fresh water over your baby to rinse all the soap off.

12. When can I begin using regular soap?
Soap and baby wash that are designed specifically for babies are formulated to be mild and gentle on baby’s sensitive skin. Adult soaps and shampoos are made to clean off dirt, oil and grime. Your baby does not need stronger cleaners until they are rolling around in the dirt. For at least the first year stick to baby wash/shampoo.

13. What should I do if soap gets in my baby’s eyes?
Most baby washes are made with a mild, tear-free formula although it may still be bothersome to your baby if it gets in their eyes. If you should accidentally get soap in baby’s eyes use a wet wash cloth to wipe their eyes using plain, clean water until all the soap is gone.

14. What if water gets in my baby’s ears?
It isn’t necessarily bad to get water in baby’s ears because the ear drum separates the ear canal from the middle ear, which prevents water from entering the middle ear. It is best to try to avoid getting water in the ears as it can become uncomfortable for baby. If your child has to get ear tubes due to frequent ear infections, your doctor will instruct you to avoid getting water in their ears. You can use kid-friendly earplugs while washing your child’s hair to help prevent water from getting in.

15. Should I pull back my baby boy’s foreskin while bathing?
For boys, you should only wash the exposed areas of the penis. It is not necessary to pull back the foreskin for cleaning in babies and children. In fact, forcing the foreskin back in newborns could potentially injure the penis leading to bleeding, pain, and infection.

16. When is my baby ready for the big tub?
You can make the transition from the infant tub to the big tub when your baby is old enough to sit up independently. Be sure to follow Bathing Safety for keeping your baby safe in the tub.

17. Are bath seats/rings safe for use in the tub?
It is arguable as to whether a bath ring or seat is safe to use. These are commonly used for babies old enough to sit up to prevent them from sliding around in the tub. The danger is parents are often misled to thinking it is secure enough to leave their baby for a minute unattended. A baby can easily tip over if not securely anchored by the suction cups to the bottom of the tub. With close supervision and staying at least within arm’s reach of your baby at all times while in the tub, it is essentially safe to use. Newer models have been designed to meet safety standards with stronger enforced suction cups and smaller leg openings to prevent baby from sliding through them or become entrapped. For this reason do NOT use older, second-hand models as they are not up to date and NEVER leave baby alone in the tub even for a second.

18. Should I use baby powder when drying my baby?
Though some moms like to use powder after baby’s bath it is not necessary. Talc powder can be harmful to infants if inhaled. If your baby has diaper rash, you may use a cornstarch powder to help although it could pose a potential source for bacterial growth. It is recommended to just skip the powder and if necessary, use a diaper rash cream or petroleum jelly.

19. Do I need to take extra caution when washing the soft spot on baby’s head?
Other than avoiding scrubbing vigorously, you do not need to take extra care when washing your baby’s head. Just wash as you normally clean the rest of your baby’s body and avoid using your finger nails.

20. Should I massage my baby after the bath?
Touch gives you and your baby a special bonding moment. A gentle massage after a bath can be a relaxing part of a bed time routine to help calm a fussy baby. It is also a great way for a reluctant bather to get used to baths with the association of a soothing massage afterwards.

Reference: http://www.babycenter.com/baby-bathing-basics

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