Week 2

Bathing

What you need:

  • A baby bath tub, preferably with a sling or mat to prevent the baby from being immersed in water (not necessary for sponge bathing, but useful)
  • A baby bath towel washed in appropriate baby detergent
  • Sterile cotton balls to clean his or her eyes
  • Two soft washcloths – one for soaping, one for rinsing
  • Baby body soap and shampoo
  • Fresh diapers and ointment for diaper rash and/or circumcision if necessary
  • Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs if needed for the umbilical cord
  • Access to warm water or a filled bucket
  • Clean, warm clothes

 

How to sponge-bathe

Sponge-bathe your newborn for the first couple of weeks until the umbilical cord has fallen off, and the circumcision has healed. While newborns only need to be cleaned three or four times a week (really, how dirty can they possibly get?), a nighttime bath is a good bedtime ritual to start.

  • Place the baby’s bathtub anywhere that’s convenient for you (and especially somewhere that’s draft-free), whether that’s on the countertop in the kitchen, the baby’s changing table, or even your bed. If you choose not to use a tub, simply lay out a towel for the baby on a comfortable surface.
  • Have all aforementioned needed items ready and within arms reach.
  • Keep the baby diapered (especially boys who are known to shoot urine well across the room when uncovered) until you’re ready to wash that area.
  • If the room is chilly, keep the baby covered in a towel and only expose the body parts one at a time as you wash.
  • Start with the face. First, use one sterile cotton ball for each eye, gently wiping from the inner eye outward. For the rest of the face, wash clean using just water.
  • Then move to the chest and neck, where you can continue to use only water unless the baby is particularly dirty for some reason. Do the same for the arms, legs and back. Make sure you clean in all of those adorable folds.
  • The hands and feet will need a small dab of baby soap, but make sure to rinse thoroughly as they’ll most likely be in your baby’s mouth in no time.
  • Lastly, wash the baby’s genitals. Follow the circumcision instructions for boys, but for girls, wash front to back with water. You might notice a normal vaginal discharge.
  • To wash the hair, wrap your baby in a dry towel and hold him in a football hold over a sink. Use a cup to pour warm water over the scalp, and then wash the hair with just water or with a small amount of shampoo.
  • Dry the baby well and apply any needed ointment before diapering, clothing and swaddling.

 

How to bathe in a baby tub

If your baby’s umbilical cord has fallen off and healed, it’s time to move things over to a baby bath tub. Don’t freak if your baby hates being in the water – it’s normal. If it makes you more comfortable, continue sponge bathing for a few days and try again. Still, make sure you’re offering lots of comfort and security, firmly holding the baby so he or she knows it’s okay.

  • Place the baby’s bathtub anywhere that’s convenient for you (and especially somewhere that’s draft-free), whether that’s on the countertop in the kitchen, the baby’s changing table, or even inside the regular tub.
  • Have all aforementioned needed items ready before the tub is filled.
  • Fill the tub with warm water, only enough so the baby isn’t completely submerged. Do not fill with the baby inside the tub because a sudden surge of hot water might be scalding.
  • Test the water to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold.
  • Now undress the baby.
  • Slowly lower your baby into the tub, talking calmly and holding firmly but gently.
  • If your tub has a newborn sling or attachment, using it can provide better support. If your tub doesn’t have one, make sure you support the head and neck with one hand while you wash with the other.
  • Be careful not to let your baby slip (wet, wiggly babies aren’t easy to handle!), as it can be extremely scary – for both of you.
  • Like sponge-bathing, start with the face. First, use one sterile cotton ball or a clean washcloth to gently wipe from the inner eye outward. For the rest of the face, wash clean using just water.
  • Then move to the chest and neck, where you can continue to use only water unless the baby is particularly dirty for some reason. Do the same for the arms, legs and back. Make sure you clean in all of those adorable folds.
  • The hands and feet will need a small dab of baby soap, but make sure to rinse thoroughly as they’ll most likely be in your baby’s mouth in no time.
  • Lastly, wash the baby’s genitals.
  • Once or twice a week (unless a condition like cradle cap requires it more frequently), suds up your baby’s hair with baby soap or baby shampoo. This is hit or miss when it comes to babies – some are perfectly content, while others scream and flail. To prevent shampoo phobia, avoid getting it (or even too much water) in their eyes.
    • If you’re washing baby in the kitchen, a sink hose works great for hair washing. If not, using a cup is fine.
    • Use only a small drop of shampoo, as too much can be drying and a pain to wash out.
    • Rinse thoroughly with clean water, protecting their eyes from the soapy stream.
    • If your baby thoroughly protests having water poured over his or her head, try wiping the scalp with a washcloth.
  • Rinse baby’s body off with a new washcloth.
  • Snuggle in a towel and dress in a warm area.
  • If your baby’s skin looks dry, apply some unscented baby lotion.

 

Tips for having a successful bathing experience:

  • If using the bathroom, try steaming if first if your house is too chilly for a naked baby.
  • Cover your baby’s exposed body parts with a warm washcloth.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees to ensure a safe temperature.
  • Most importantly: Never leave your baby unattended, even for a minute. They can drown in less than an inch of water in a matter of seconds.

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3 thoughts on “Caring for Your Newborn: A complete guide to the second week with your new baby

  1. Nichole Chester says:

    I notice they didn’t mention much about breast feeding. You may want to bring a pump (I have a single one that I pack) nursing pads, and nipple cream. I keep one tube of nipple cream in the bag, along with a handful of nursing pads to be on the safe side. If you are traveling… You may also want to use storage bags for milk and keep an electric bottle warmer in the car (for those times you want a break and others to feed the baby)

  2. Mrs. Kate says:

    Great post and you share good guiding tips of newborn baby care.

  3. Alexis says:

    I take issue with the point about immunizations where ou recommend “know both sides of the story” then recommend reading the literature. If you read the studies, there is only one side to the story, and that is that immunization provides the best protection against life threatening illness and is one of the major success stories of modern medicine. The SINGLE study that link immunizations to autism has since been retracted and the author admitted to fraud and falsifying results.
    This is like recommending that people know both sides of the story as to whether or not the world is round.

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