When giving a baby a bath it is important to remember several important factors that will determine whether the experience is pleasing or not for both you and your baby. Water temperature, the types of soap and washcloths you use, the manner in which you rub a baby's skin with washcloths during the bath and towels afterwards will all have an effect on the bathing experience.
Step 1: Checklist
Before you even start running the water, make sure everything you need is within reach. Make yourself a checklist of things you will need including a washcloth, a towel, cotton balls, mild baby shampoo, mild moisturizing soap, baby wipes, a clean diaper and a change of clothes. Never leave your baby alone in a tub, sink or basin as it only takes a moment for a potential hazard. Refrain from answering the phone or the door or doing anything else that will distract you from your baby when he's in the water.
Step 2: Too Much Bathing Can Dry Out a Baby's Skin
It is not recommended that you give newborn babies a bath everyday. Too much bathing can dry out a baby's skin. If you keep the essential areas clean including baby's face, neck and diaper area you will be fine. It is also suggested that you give newborns a sponge bath until the area around the umbilical chord heals. Sponge baths are more convenient than tubs and much safer. With a warm, flat surface, a soft washcloth and a towel you're ready to go. Soap is not always recommended for newborn baby skin but if your baby is dirty you can use a mild moisturizing soap.
Step 3: Water Should Be Warm But Not Scalding
Lay your baby flat on his back on the towel and begin by wetting the washcloth and wringing out any excess water. Water should be warm but not scalding. To prevent water being too hot set the thermostat on your water heater to below 120 degrees. To keep your baby from catching chill after the bath it's best to have the room temperature at around 75 degrees.
Step 4: Do Not Scrub
Your baby is small but he has important areas that you need to keep clean. Gently sponge the washcloth under his arms, behind the ears, around the neck and between fingers and toes. Do not scrub as this will easily cause abrasions to newborn skin. Rather pat the cloth so enough water is released to rinse and then dry the areas with soft cotton balls or cotton cloths.
Step 5: Use a Tub Basin
When you baby is ready to move beyond the sponge bath it is best to use a tub basin rather than a full bathtub since a basin is smaller and more convenient for a baby. Another option is to use the kitchen sink but make sure to line it with a rubber mat or towel to keep the area safe.
Bathing is an important bonding experience with newborns so prepare yourself in advance to provide a safe, comfortable environment that will be both practical and sanitary.