Trying to convince your wiggling jiggling newborn baby that bathtime is supposed to be a soothing and beautiful bonding experience (you know, like it says in all those blinkin’ baby books) isn’t easy. Add to the mix a tired parent (you) who’s only just learning the ropes of baby bathtime themselves and has, for the last month, been constantly on the verge of some kind of rubber duck related anxiety attack, and things can get a bit...“tricky”, right? Take a deep breath. It’s going to be fine.
First up, a couple of hints to give you half a chance of a successful bath time:
- It’s usually a good idea to bath your baby in between feeds. We’re aiming to increase your chances of good baby bathtime and reduce the chances of gross baby barftime so you don’t want them to be full up. However, you don’t want them to be grumpy and hangry either otherwise you could end up with a screaming wriggler on your hands.
- It’s also a good idea to have bathtime over before your baby gets over tired and antsy. How would you feel if someone dunked you in water just as you were about to put your pyjamas on and nest under the duvet? In your baby’s mind, no amount of lavender scented baby wash will make up for a mis-timed dunking.
- You don’t need to bath your newborn baby every day. Repeat. You do not need to bath your newborn baby every day. You’ll be forever wiping faces and bottoms and hands and grimey bits anyway so bathtime two or three times a week is usually enough to keep them clean. Now, take a moment to celebrate that.
Everyone knows that when a person becomes a parent the sacred superpowers of dexterity are bestowed upon them. So, with a bunch of towels shoved in the crook of your neck, a bottle of baby wash wedged between your knees and a flannel dangling from your armpit, you try to undress your baby with one hand and prepare the bath water with the other... because that’s what Wonder Parents do. No. Stop it. Don’t do this to yourself. The path to minimising stress at bathtime is preparation.
Before you even move your baby or get them undressed, gather everything you need - calmly and with two free hands! Pop your baby bath in place, then set out the baby soap, a soft washcloth, a beaker for rinsing, lotion, nappy etc.. You’ll also need a bath towel and maybe a one of those special, snuggly hooded baby towels.
Fold the big bath towel and spread it out flat. This will be your baby’s post-bath landing pad. Place your hooded towel on top, all ready to scoop them up and keep them dry and warm.
Think about the room temperature. Make sure it’s not too chilly. You want to keep your baby as comfy and calm as possible, right? A cold, wet, goose pimpled baby can easily lead to an unhappy, tear-stained baby and an unhappy, tear-stained baby can sometimes lead to a tear stained parent. No one wants that.
Remember, you haven’t even moved your baby yet. How much easier is this?! Now you’re going to prepare the bath water. You don’t need much. Just a couple of inches. Test the temperature on the inside of your arm to make sure it isn’t too hot. Next, try not to whip yourself into a frenzy as you wonder whether the water is too hot. Do. Not. Freak. Out. Throw the washcloth into the bath and skoosh a little bit of soap on it. Lather it up, ready for washing.
With everything you need for washing and drying by your side AND the bath prepared (and freak outs averted), now you can calmly undress your baby and lower them in for bathtime. Phew!