Bath Time Tips for all ages
I can still remember the first time we put my daughter Lauren in the big tub. My husband was in the other room tackling his first solo messy diaper. The episode was a big learning experience that got referred to as 'Poopageddon'. He had neglected to fold over the poopy diaper and Lauren managed to get her feet right in there. Poop was everywhere including the walls.
“Jude? Can you come in here? I need an extra hand”.
There was no way a sponge bath was going to do the trick. Fortunately her cord was off so doing a full bath was an option.
If I remember correctly, at this point Sandy needed a bath as well. He got in first and I handed him the baby. Our bath routine was created. Both of my kids learned to love the bath in the security of daddy’s lap. (If you don't have two willing partners I would usually use a big sink until the babies are good at sitting.)
I have patients who swear by the blooming lotus bath aid
As you bathe them, I would start with the face and head.......then do the body and end with the tush (going from the cleaner areas to the dirtier areas). You can use a warm, wet cotton ball to clean the eyes. I suggest cleaning from the outside of the eyes in towards the tear duct/ nose.
There is not one bath routine that works for everyone. Tub and sink sizes, babies temperament and willing partners will vary from family to family.
Until the cord is off and any circumcision is healed, the babies should not be submerged in a tub. This is usually around 10 days to 2 weeks. Until you can do that first bath, you can simply do some gentle sponging off. Babies are not terribly dirty. As long as you get the face and tush you are fine.
Once you are ready to submerge the baby, safety is key.
NEVER LEAVE THE BABY FOR EVEN AN INSTANT
As a safety precaution I would have you turn down your hot water heater to 120 degrees. Many hot water heaters come from the factory set to 140 degrees. No one needs it to be quite so high. Check the water temperature in the tub to make sure it isn't too hot. Grandma did just fine by testing with her elbow, but there are all sorts of floating bath thermometers that will take the guesswork out of it.
A good water temperature range would be between 36-38 Celsius or 97-100 Fahrenheit. Some infants have a little trouble regulating their body temperature so water that is either too hot or too cold can make them uncomfortable. The normal body temperature averages 37 or 98.6. Too cold is no good, but too hot is probably worse. Babies have very sensitive skin that can burn easily.
While I don’t ever advocate keeping the bedroom too warm, 68-72 is fine; it is nice to have a cozy environment for drying off right after a bath. Making it a pleasant experience from start to finish will help keep bath time from being an ordeal. Many folks use a little space heater for this. Make sure any appliance is kept well away from the water.
Babies don't get too dirty and usually don't need to be fully bathed more than 2-3 times a week.
Faces and diaper areas should be washed at least daily. All skin-folds also need to tended to DAILY as well. Don’t skip this or you will be the one sheepishly calling me to tell me that you discovered some nasty areas on your baby. Common areas are under the arms, in the neck, thighs and groin. The area behind the ears also can get gross. You can proactively avoid this with a routine skin fold check, spread the creases, wipe with cetaphil cleanser (no water needed) and then add a layer of aquaphor or cerave ointment.
If your baby loves the bath and it is part of your routine, it is perfectly fine to do one daily. Make sure you moisturize your kids after the bath. This is especially important for anyone with dry skin.
It isn’t uncommon for kids who used to like their tub time, to become “bath phobic.” One of my patients had an issue when a couple of siblings were having their routine bath time together. The younger one had a large poop in the tub. The older one freaked out. There was no fixing that. He ended up taking showers for a while. In the case of Dr Elizabeth’s son, their tub has some jets. He hit a button, It made a horrid noise and it took a month before he would get in without a struggle.
One slip in the tub, or shampoo in the eyes can make kids who used to like the baths reluctant to get in. Having one parent in the tub is usually my best suggestion.
To protect the eyes, using a cup to rinse the hair usually helps. A sports bottle can work well for this. There are also lots of little specialty bath items with spouts on the market.
Having your child look way up for the hair rinsing can help keep the eyes from getting shampoo in them. If you can, perhaps stick a little sticker or decal on the ceiling of the tub for them to look at.
Some kids feel empowered if they are holding a dry washcloth that they can hold over their eyes for the rinsing.
Find a nice gentle baby soap. There are a lot of good brands. Watch for any rashes or irritation when trying anything new.
It is worth being a careful label reader. There can be ingredients lurking in some products that you want to avoid. Parabens and phthalates can be hidden under the ingredient ”fragrance;” these can potentially disrupt the hormone system.
If you are local, you are safe getting any product from Natural Resources on Valencia. They don’t let any product in the door unless they have carefully vetted all of the active and inactive ingredients. The lines that they like to carry are Earth Mama and Think Baby. EWG is another source to checking on product safety
Bubble baths can cause urinary discomfort in some sensitive little girls, so I I avoid them except for very special occasions. Some kids can get irritations from simply sitting in the soapy water so if you have an older baby who enjoys the bath, let them play in the clear water and then do the soaping and rinsing right before they get out.
Things you can add to the bath
Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to the tub seems to be useful at preventing some rashes. It is hard to give an exact amount since the tub volumes vary so much, but I usually suggest between ½ to 1 cup.
Baking soda is also a popular thing to add. For babies use about 2 tablespoons; for older kids you can add up to a cup. This is a good one for an itchy rash like poison oak. Believe it or not, it can also help with constipation.
Do NOT mix the vinegar and the baking soda unless you are doing a science experiment and want to create a volcano.
Bleach baths are good for eczema or any potentially bacterial rash.
If properly diluted and used as directed, a bleach bath is safe for children and adults and believe it or not, this is a standard recommendation from many dermatologists. The directions are to add ¼ - ½ cup of bleach to a standard tub that is filled. Don’t do this more than 3 times a week, and only soak from the neck down.
Oatmeal - Aveeno makes a nice product that is good for dry itchy skin.
Bath toys are fun, but can get gross! Make sure you clean them regularly. The get quite moldy and slimy
There is nothing quite like the scent of a clean, sweet smelling baby. Enjoy the moment!