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Bathing Baby: Sponge Bath Techniques

Martha Stewart Baby, Volume 1 Special Issue 2000

1. Ready your supplies: a waist-high sturdy table, a basin of warm water, two washcloths, two to three towels, cotton balls, a cup, alcohol wipes, unscented mild soap such as pure castile soap, and baby shampoo. Fold a bath towel to make an absorbent cushion for the baby to lie on. (For babies who do not like to lie flat, use a folded hand towel as a pillow underneath the shoulders and head.)

2. Lay the baby on the towel. With a clean corner of a washcloth or moistened cotton ball, wash each eye, moving from the inner to the outer corner. Use only warm water. Wash the nose with another clean corner of the washcloth and the mouth with another.

3. To wash the baby's hair, use a pea-size amount of castile soap or baby shampoo. Wash with a massaging motion, going gently over the soft spot. To rinse, wet a second washcloth, leaving some water in it, and squeeze it over the baby's scalp.

4. Wash the neck and ears with a washcloth or moistened cotton ball. Wash gently around and behind the outer ear. Use a little soap to wash these areas, as milk can collect behind the ear and in the creases of the neck.

5. Wash belly, underarms, and hands. Clean inside all skin folds and creases. Use an alcohol wipe to clean gently around the edge of the umbilical cord. Dry the baby, and keep her body covered with a towel.

6. Babies love massages. Place both hands lying flat at the center of the baby's chest, and push out toward the edges of her torso, sweeping in and finishing at the baby's navel. Talk while you massage; your gentle, reassuring voice and eye contact are as important as the motions of your hands.

7. Wash the hip area, legs, and feet. These are very ticklish parts of the body for some babies. Use big, gentle motions for both washing and drying.

8. To do a leg massage, take the baby's left foot or ankle in your right hand, and hold the top of the thigh in your left hand. With your left hand, stroke the leg from buttock to heel, squeezing in a milking motion. Reverse the motion, and repeat.


9. To wash the baby's back, use your dominant hand to push the baby onto her side. Leaving your hand there for support, wash the back area with your free hand, then dry.

10. Wash genitals and groin, front to back. For girls, open the vulva with your thumb and index finger. Clean gently. For boys, clean the outside of the penis. Do not pull back the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis. On a circumcised penis, use a cotton ball dipped in warm water. Lift testicles, and clean.

11. Wash the buttocks with a motion moving away from the genital area. Rinse, and pat dry.

12. Swaddle the baby in a warm, dry towel. Well done!

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