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Are you afraid of bathing your baby for the first time? When and how to bathe the newborn step by step

Your baby has been born. At last you have it in your arms, you can smell it and caress it, and one of the first moments that parents consider regarding its care, is the newborn’s first bath . When can we bathe him? And especially in the case of new parents who are usually afraid of it, how to do it safely?

Learning to bathe the baby is one of the great challenges for new mothers and fathers, since many doubts and insecurities arise when doing so. Therefore, we will try to clarify them all so that the baby’s first bath is a special and unforgettable moment .

Is it necessary to bathe the baby after birth?

There is no need to be in a hurry to clean the baby as soon as it is born. In fact, the baby is not born dirty; some are born covered to a greater or lesser extent with remains of a whitish-yellow substance called vernix caseosa.

This begins to secrete between weeks 18 and 20 of gestation to protect the baby’s delicate skin from contact with amniotic fluid, preventing it from cracking.

It usually disappears towards the end of pregnancy, but some newborns are born with remains in some parts of their body or in the folds of the skin. But this substance continues to have an important function after birth, since it helps maintain heat, as well as greater skin hydration and greater skin elasticity.

In addition, vernix is a barrier against bacterial and fungal infections , acting as the first shield of the immune system.

So the first bath can wait and these remains can be left to be absorbed naturally, or wiped with a towel if the baby has an excess of this substance.

Baby’s first bath: when

In the hospital, the baby is usually cleaned at birth as soon as it is born, and even in some maternities they allow parents to bathe them for the first time. But the truth is that bathing by immersion is not necessary in the first hours of life . The baby is not dirty and as a hygiene measure it makes no sense, apart from exposing him to the risk of hypothermia.

In the first 48 hours, if necessary -for having, for example, traces of blood or meconium-, the baby can be cleaned with a moistened disposable sponge without soap, or with a small amount of neutral soap.

Once you are discharged from the hospital and go home, you can continue with the same sponge bathing technique, which is preferable until the umbilical cord falls off (one to two weeks) as it minimizes the risk of infection.

Bathing the baby by immersing the body in water is not contraindicated before the umbilical cord falls off, as long as it is a short bath and, of course, afterwards we dry the cord well.

In the first 48 hours of life, bathing by immersion does not make sense as a hygiene measure. The first bath can wait.

Where to bathe him?

The newborn baby is so small that many parents bathe the baby for the first time in the sink. If so, you have to be very careful with the tap and make sure it is deep enough so that the baby does not get cold.

You can also use a baby bathtub that you will continue to use for the first few months. There are them with legs and folding, changing table type, or children’s bathtubs (container type) that can be used from birth. Another option is to use the bathtub with a bathtub reducer, which avoids filling it completely, and a hammock-type adapter to position the baby. You choose.

How to bathe the baby for the first time step by step

  1. Prepare the bath : it is important that before starting we make sure we have everything at hand: towel or cape, special bath gel for newborns, sponge, clean diaper, cream and change of clothes.
  2. Check the temperature of the water and the bath : water should be lukewarm, at a temperature between 37.8°C and 38.8°C. It is also important to condition the bathroom so that the baby does not get cold. The temperature should not be lower than 24 degrees.
  3. Gently undress the baby and clean the diaper area.
  4. Hold him firmly from behind, supporting his head on your forearm, holding him by the armpit and the shoulder. This way you will have the other hand free to bathe him. Or better yet, hold him with both hands and have someone help you.
  5. Introduce him into the water gradually so that he gets used to it, leaving his neck and head out of the water, of course.
  6. Start with the head and face , the body, and finally the genitals. For the hair you can use a little special shampoo for newborns, making sure that it does not foam and can get into the eyes. For the rest of the body, soap-free water or a little liquid soap with a neutral or slightly acidic pH is enough.
  7. Remember that you should not rub the skin or the umbilical cord with force . It is enough to do it by hand or with a very soft loofah for babies.
  8. The bath should not last too long, since after 30 minutes the water dehydrates the foot. With a bath of approximately ten minutes is more than enough.
  9. At the end of the bath , lift the baby out of the bathtub, cover the body and head by wrapping it in a dry and clean towel and take it to a safe surface (changing table or bed) while keeping an eye on it at all times. Never leave him alone.
  10. Gently pat it dry , paying particular attention to the folds, and if it hasn’t already fallen out, to the umbilical cord.
  11. Most newborns don’t need moisturizing lotions after bathing, but if the skin is dry, apply a small amount of unscented moisturizing cream to the areas that require it with a gentle massage.
  12. Next, apply barrier cream to the diaper area, put on the diaper and dress the baby .

It is advisable to choose the best time for bathing. The end of the day is usually a good time , as it predisposes you to rest better. It is also important that parents are not in a hurry, nervous or stressed to avoid risks, and so that everyone enjoys this moment.

How often to bathe the baby?

The frequency will depend on the age of the baby, and logically on the level of dirt it has (if it has vomited, if it has been dirty, etc.) In a newborn baby , daily bathing is not necessary . Two or three times a week is enough, otherwise the skin can become dry and irritated.

Also, if diaper changes are done frequently and thoroughly, the parts that need the most attention, like the diaper area, stay clean.

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