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How to Give a Newborn a Sponge Bath.
Newborn babies need sponge baths for the first several weeks after birth.
This is important, as the baby’s umbilical cord stump needs time to fall off and heal without getting too wet.
Giving a newborn a sponge bath is somewhat tricky due to their small size and fragile nature.
Not only do you need to keep parts of them dry, but you need to keep them calm and comfortable, too.
Ultimately, by preparing and taking your time, you’ll be able to make a newborn’s sponge bath go smoothly.
Gather the supplies you need ahead of time, carefully clean your baby, and take measures to keep them warm and dry after the bath.
Staging the Bath Area
Create a routine.
One of the most important things you should do when giving a newborn a bath is to establish a routine.
By creating a routine, you’ll give your baby a sense of stability and predictability.
This will help soothe them and make future baths go a lot easier.
Choose a specific time of day, if possible.
For example, you may want to establish the routine of bathing your baby at night.
Establish your bathing routine in relation to your feeding routine.
Consider feeding your baby either before or after bath time.
Gather your supplies.
You’ll need a wide variety of supplies ready before you start the bath.
This is important as you won’t want to get up and leave your baby in the middle of the bath.
Your most important supplies include:
- Washcloths and a sponge
- Baby shampoo
- Moisturizing soap
- Baby wipes
- A change of clothes
- A fresh diaper
- A bowl, basin, or sink to fill with warm water
Find a room with a flat surface.
The best place to give your newborn a sponge bath is a place with a large flat surface.
This is important, as you’ll need to lay out both the baby and your supplies. Consider:
A changing table.
A firm bed.
The floor of your bathroom or kitchen.
In this case, you will need to put down a towel or pad so that your baby will not be resting directly on the hard floor.
Make sure the room is warm.
Before you get your newborn wet, you need to make sure that the room you’ll sponge bathe your baby in is between 75° to 80° F (24° to 27° C).
If the room isn’t warm enough, your baby could get cold.
Fill a bowl or sink basin with warm water.
Fill your water basin or sink with water that is warm, rather than hot.
Water should never be hotter than 101° F (38° C) when it comes into contact with your infant
For a sponge bath, you will not actually be placing your baby in the water, so there is no need to use a special tub.
Never expose your baby to water that is hotter than 140° F (60° C).
This could cause third-degree burns very quickly.
Cleaning Your Infant
Undress your baby.
Take off all your baby’s clothes, including their diaper.
Wait to do this until immediately before you start the bath, so that your baby does not get cold.
Wrap your baby in a soft towel.
Once your baby is completely undressed, wrap them in a warm, soft towel and lay them on their back on the bathing surface.
Keep all parts of your baby’s body wrapped at all times, except for their face and whichever part of their body you are washing at the moment.
This will prevent your baby from getting too cold during the bath.
Soothe your baby.
Make sure to make a serious effort to soothe your baby and keep them calm during the bath.
You can do this by making soothing noises, telling them they’re good, or holding their hand.
Ultimately, it is important to make sure the bath is not a traumatic event for the infant.
Consider putting on white noise or soothing music during the bath.
Wash your baby’s face.
Dip a corner of a microfiber washcloth in warm water and use it to wash their face.
Do this systematically and wipe from side-to-side.
Make sure to get around the mouth, under the nose, and around and behind their ears.
Sponge your baby’s body.
Dampen a sponge or washcloth with the warm water in your basin or sink, and wash your baby’s entire body.
Start at the neck and move downward toward the torso and then legs.
Uncover each part of your baby’s body as you wash it, then re-cover it with the towel and move to the next part.
Use either plain water, or water mixed with a few drops of a mild, moisturizing baby soap or shampoo.
Take care to clean in the folds and creases of your baby’s skin, where dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells can build up and cause irritation.
Clean between their fingers and toes.
Get in between their buttocks and private parts.
Wash between your baby’s buttocks last.
If your baby is a girl, make sure to wipe her private parts from front to back to reduce the risk of vaginal infection.
Avoid the umbilical cord.
When washing your infant’s body, you need to make sure you are gentle around the umbilical cord stump.
While it is okay to clean around it, you don’t want to hit it or get it directly wet.
If you do get the stump wet, make sure to dab it dry.
Shampoo your baby’s hair.
If you wish, you can now wash your baby’s hair.
Keep your baby wrapped in the towel, and carefully hold them over the basin or sink in a “football hold,” facing up.
Pour a little warm water over their hair.
Take a very small amount of baby shampoo and gently massage it into your infant’s hair.
Then pour more water over your baby’s hair to rinse the shampoo out, taking care not to get any soapy water in their face and eyes.
Be careful not to get any shampoo into your infant’s eyes.
Make sure you get full coverage of the scalp, as a baby’s hair can become oily and dirty just like an adult’s hair.
Rinse out all shampoo thoroughly.
Avoid shampooing your baby’s hair too often, since the shampoo can dry out their delicate hair and scalp.
Once or twice a week should be sufficient.
Drying Your Infant
Pat your infant dry.
Take a dry towel and gently pat your baby dry.
You can use the towel that you used during the sponge bath, if it’s not too wet.
Patting is important, as you could irritate your baby’s skin if you rub them.
Also, if your towel gets wet, make sure to replace it with a dry one.
Wrap your baby up.
After you’ve dried your infant, you’ll need to wrap them in a fresh, dry towel.
You may want to consider using a hooded towel to cover your baby’s neck and head.
Ultimately, though, the towel should be clean, soft, and large enough to cover their entire body.
Dress your newborn.
Make sure to dress your newborn quickly after they are dry.
This is important, as the baby could become cold almost immediately.
Use the change of clothes you set aside earlier to dress them.