When you are a new parent, the prospect of injuring or dropping a slippery newborn after a bath is a terrifying experience. So you may not want to take on this particular task any more often than you have to. It's important to realize that newborns don't require daily baths, especially if you're careful about keeping the diaper area clean and dry.
It's not necessary to bathe your newborn more than two to three times per week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your baby's diaper area is thoughtfully and thoroughly cleaned after each diaper change, she won't need a bath often. Actually, bathing a newborn every day can lead to dry, irritated skin, according to MayoClinic.com. If you decide to bathe your newborn only two to three times a week, it's important to also make sure that the face and neck are kept very clean. Use wipes or a warm, damp washcloth to clean any spilled formula or breast milk from the newborn's face and neck immediately after feeding.
Bathing Before the Umbilical Cord Heals
The AAP recommends bathing a baby with warm water and a washcloth outside the bathtub or sink in the weeks prior to the umbilical cord nub falling off. Before bathing your baby, test the water on your skin to ensure it's warm enough to prevent the newborn from getting cold, but not so hot that it will irritate the baby's sensitive skin. Start the bath by wiping down the newborn's face and neck, making sure to remove any crusted formula or breast milk from in between the neck folds, and be sure to thoroughly clean the newborn's genital area.
Once the umbilical cord has completely fallen off and the area has healed, it's acceptable to begin bathing your newborn in a basin, sink or tub. For the baby's safety, MayoClinic.com recommends only adding 2 to 3 inches of warm water to the tub. Test the water before placing your baby inside the basin, and if he becomes chilly, gently pour water over his head with your cupped hand or a small cup. If the baby doesn't enjoy bath time, AskDrSears.com recommends massaging him and maintaining constant eye contact to help ease the his agitation.
After the Bath
If bathing your newborn in the tub or sink, carefully wrap a towel around him before lifting to prevent dropping the slippery baby. Because the baby's skin is sensitive, gently pat his wet skin dry instead of vigorously rubbing it. AskDrSears.com warns not to use talcum powder after the bath because the newborn can inhale the small particles. Because the baby's skin is naturally covered with moisturizing oils, baby lotion isn't necessary. However, if you want to use lotion, choose one that is formulated for use on newborns and is hypoallergenic.
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