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baby, it's bathtime!

When your little one is ready for that first bath, it's time to celebrate! Because bathtime is right up there with feeding in terms of the perfect bonding experience. And it's such splashy fun, too!

Once the umbilical cord falls off, you can start giving your baby a bath. Make sure you've set aside enough time when you first begin. You don't want to feel rushed, since that's something your baby can sense as well.

How much bathing does an infant really need? Well, he's not doing a whole lot right now that will make him so very dirty. During his first year, his little messes will stem from soiled diapers, dribbles or food and formula mishaps. If you keep his face, hands and bottom consistently clean, bathing him once every two or three days may be all that's necessary. In fact, bathing an infant too often can dry his skin.

what can you do to make bathtime easier? prepare. prepare. prepare!

set the stage:

  • Choose a room that's warm and draft-free, as well as safe, comfortable and convenient.
  • The kitchen sink or a counter-high, baby bathtub are popular places for a first bath; they're easy to reach and less strain on your back.
  • Use a foam bath mat or washcloth at the bottom of the tub so that baby doesn't slip.
  • Have everything ready and within arm's reach - from soap to towel to toys - before you start bathing baby.
  • In a small bowl, mix a little baby soap with warm water. Use this solution for washing so you won't have to worry about getting too much soap on your already slippery baby.
  • Lay out a towel, diaper and a warm outfit beforehand, so you can quickly and easily wrap baby up after the bath.

begin the bath:

1. Undress baby slowly, telling him what fun he's going to have in his bath. Soon he'll look forward to the new routine, and kick and squeal with joy, as it comes around again.

2. Gently put your baby in the tub, supporting his neck and body the whole way, allowing him to get used to it.

3. With a washcloth, gently wash his face. Use a very small amount of soap, washing one small area at a time.

4. Some parents start with the head and work their way down, but you may prefer cleansing his body first. Which is just as well, since heat is lost through baby's head. So if you wash his hair first and then his body, he may get chilled. Don't forget all those little creases - behind his ears and neck, between his fingers and toes, around his belly button, and under his arms, all need to come clean.

5. Next up is the diaper area. Once washed, remember to rinse this area thoroughly, because soap left in this area, particularly, will irritate baby's sensitive skin.

6. Once you've washed the front of baby, it's time to do his back. Cup your hand around his neck and hold him up. With the other hand, you can clean his back and bottom.

7. Almost done! Lean your baby back and hold on tight; he'll be slippery! Place a hand under each arm, lean him forward slowly and pick him up out of the bath. Gently lay him down on a towel.

8. Dry baby thoroughly, keeping his head warm in the process.

9. Now that baby's squeaky clean, it's time for a new diaper and a fresh outfit.

bathing your growing baby

As baby gets a little older, here are some ideas to make bath time more fun:

  • Sculpt his shampooed hair into silly styles.
  • Use a small sand shovel to wet and rinse his hair.
  • Incorporate plenty of bath toys to help him enjoy the delights of water.
  • Add bubble bath to the water!

Remember, bathtime can be good clean fun, as well as a necessary part of baby's care. So make it as playful as you can, an experience that you and your baby look forward to.