Bath time can be a relaxing, fun time to share with your baby. It's also a time for caution, though. These bathing tips will help you keep your little one safe while he gets squeaky clean:
- Most importantly Never, ever leave your baby unsupervised, even for a minute. Children can drown in less than an inch of water. To make sure you don't leave the baby alone, prepare for the bath before you take the baby for it. Gather all the supplies (soap, towel, clean diaper, clean clothes, etc.) you'll need ahead of time, and keep at least one hand on your baby while he's in the water. If the doorbell or phone rings and you feel you must answer it, scoop up your baby in a towel and take him with you.
Make sure the bathroom is comfortably warm (around 75 degrees F). Babies can get chilled quickly. If there is no means to make the bathroom warm, make sure the water is comfortably warm and baby's exposure time out of water, is minimum.
Gently pour cupfuls of water over your baby's body throughout the bath so she doesn't get cold.
- Don't put your baby into a tub when the water is still running. (The water temperature could change or the water could get too deep.) Fill the water and check the temperature before placing baby into the tub.
- Make the family tub safe: Bathtubs are incredibly slippery, so outfit yours with a rubber bath mat for more secure seating. A cushioned spout cover can protect your baby's head from painful bumps.
- Make the bathwater comfortably warm (test it with your wrist or the inside of your elbow to make sure it's not too hot). Babies and toddlers generally prefer a much cooler tub than you probably do.
- Fill the tub with only 2 to 4 inches of water for babies.
Undress your baby and gradually place her in the tub on her back. Support her head and neck with one hand.
For kids who can sit up, a bath ring may provide you with an extra "hand." But don't let it give you a false sense of security—babies can tip over or get trapped under them, so it's no substitute for being vigilant and around your baby at all times.
- Teach your baby not to stand in the tub.
Wash your baby in plain water if you want to, as long as you clean the diaper zone and skin folds well. Soaps and shampoos can dry your baby's skin and may cause rashes. If you do use soap, choose a mild one designed for babies and use it sparingly. To avoid having your baby sit too long in soapy water, play at the beginning of the bath and save the soap and shampoo for the end.
Use a washcloth, cotton balls, or your hand to gently wash your baby's face and body. No need to scrub or use much soap.
- Don't use bubble baths. They may be irritating to the urethra, which in turn might increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Don't allow your child to touch the faucet handles. Even if he can't move them now, he'll be strong enough to do so eventually – and that could lead to serious injury. (You might try putting your baby in the tub with his back to the faucets.)
- Keep electric appliances (like hair dryers and curling irons) away from the tub.
After the bath gently lift your baby out, wrap her in a towel, and pat her dry. Be careful – babies are slippery when wet!
Put a fresh diaper on your baby as soon as possible to avoid a mess.