When it comes to bathing newborns, most new parents are somewhere between intimidated and downright petrified. And honestly, putting a tiny baby in water is something to approach carefully. Here are a few tips from someone who has done it hundreds of times.
The first few baths are definitely a two person job! Make sure you have a helper--even if just for moral support.
If you or your partner enjoy taking baths, consider bringing your baby in. It's much easier to maneuver baby this way and it's a wonderful bonding opportunity. Make sure your helper is nearby to get baby in and out of the tub. Also, keep water temperature between 95-100 degrees F.
Have everything you need in arms' reach BEFORE you begin. I know it sounds obvious/basic, but it's important!
*Baby's Feet First*
Put just your baby's feet in the water first. If the water is too cold or too hot, your baby can easily let you know before their whole body is submerged in it.
*Keep it to a Minimum!*
Newborn skin is very delicate. Even if you aren't using soap, it's irritating for their skin and requires a lot of energy. Twice a week is the maximum for a full baths. Spot clean the rest.
*Keep it Positive!*
You want baby to have a positive introduction to bathing. Do your best to be calm and happy. Your baby will be taking their cues from you.
There is an unending stream of misinformation regarding babies and sleep Often, parents feel like they have 2 choices: coping with frequent wakings or some form of "Cry It Out." But, Elizabeth Pantley offers up an elegant, compassionate and practical alternative: "The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns."
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four and grandmother who approaches sleep with sensitivity and common sense. She presents evidence-based information on how you can encourage healthy sleep habits from day one, while responding compassionately and individually to your baby. I love that all of her information SUPPORTS healthy bonding and successful breastfeeding. (Many Cry It Out methods jeopardize breastfeeding.)
With three children of my own and 13 years as a Postpartum Doula, I wasn't sure how much new information I would find,,,,I was delightfully surprised! Like her other books, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns is easily approachable, no matter how tired/hormonal/exasperated you are. You'll find clear techniques to help your baby sleep longer while avoiding many common pitfalls (like babies who want to be held, need to be in motion for every sleep event, or need a breast in their mouth to fall asleep).
I love that Pantley recognizes and respects both babies and parents as individuals and offers multiple options and strategies for different scenarios. Her approach is gentle, and takes into consideration both newborn and parents' needs during the early weeks, while keeping an eye on the long-view.
If all parents read this book before the birth, it could significantly alter the landscape of family life with a baby. Even if you are expecting your fifth baby, this book can empower you with tools to maximize your baby's sleep potential while avoiding the common crutches many babies tend to develop.
If your baby is fussing, here are my go-to calming strategies.
1) Motion. Hold your baby (most prefer upright, against your shoulder with their tummy on your upper chest) and walk around. If this doesn't cut it, pat their back gently, too.
2) Sound. White noise can help a baby settle. There are apps, but most also love a good stove exhaust fan. Music is another alternative.
3) Water. Depending on your baby's age and level of upset, try standing in front of a running faucet/shower, or put their feet in warm water. Most newborns enjoy having running water on their scalp, too. (added bonus: doesn't require full outfit change--just wrap a towel around their body and tilt the back of their head under warm running water.) For bouts of gas, serious need to reset, a bath may be in order.
4) Wear your baby. If your baby is 0-3 months old, try a sling. (i.e. Maya sling, Over-the-Shoulder Baby Holder) If your baby is bigger or 3 months old or older, the Boba Baby or Ergo carrier is simple to use and very comfortable for mom or dad. (There are countless instructional youtube videos or you can go to a Moms' group for hands-on instruction.)
5) A change in scenery. Sometimes simply going outside is enough to distract your baby from whatever is causing distress. Often stepping out onto the porch for a few minutes is enough.
If your baby is fussing frequently and not easily soothed, consider food sensitivities.
For a more complete listing of "Colic Causing Foods in Breastfeeding" please visit Dr. Sears' website:
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.