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Bathing Baby 101

Martha Stewart Baby, Volume 1 Special Issue 2000


Nothing smells sweeter or feels softer than a freshly bathed baby, but bathing a newborn at home can be an intimidating experience for new parents. The first few times, it's a good idea for both parents to try it together. Once you become comfortable with the task, baby bath time can be the most intimate and interactive part of the day with your child.

Here are some general guidelines for bathing your baby:

Anticipate what supplies you will need for the baby during and right after the bath, and set them out ahead of time. Pick the best time of day for your baby. If a bath stimulates her, bathe her right after she awakens. If it soothes her, plan the bath before one of her sleeping periods. Try not to bathe a very tired or hungry baby.

Work at your waist level to provide steady support for a slippery baby. A sturdy kitchen table works well because it is a comfortable height, there is water nearby, and the room is generally warm.

Always check the temperature of the water you're using on the inside of your wrist. The water should feel warm and comfortable (about body temperature), not hot.

During the bath, sing or talk to your baby in a calm and gentle voice so he associates a bath with pleasure. Use bath time to massage your baby, and make lots of eye contact.

No soap or moisturizing product should be used on the baby's skin until you patch-test it. Put a dab of the product on a cloth or cotton ball, and rub it on the inside of your child's forearm. Wait 24 hours, then check for a reaction. You don't need to use soap on the baby's face, and soap should be used sparingly during a sponge bath.

To avoid a chill, dry each part of your baby's body as you go. You can also keep her body covered with a towel as you wash. Keep a hand on your baby at all times.

Never leave a baby unattended or turn your back to her.

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