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Beginners guide to bathtime

Beginners guide to bathtime

It might not be rocket science: undress, support in warm water, wash, dry, re-clothe, but for a new mum, it's one of the trickiest little juggling acts she's yet had to face.

The first time you undress your newborn for a bath, his tiny, naked, squirming form can seem so vulnerable, and your task so monumental, it's well worth thinking about how you'll tackle bathtime before you actually do so.

How do you hold baby gently yet firmly in one hand and lather soap, open the shampoo or spread a towel with the other? And what do you do if yours is one of those babies who really, really don't want to be bathed?

Bathtime can be wonderful, your baby delighting in splashing in warm water. It can also be a time when he screams angrily and kicks hard, objecting to the feeling of air on his skin, the alien touch of a towel, the strangeness of water, the echo of the bathroom, the smell of soap...

If you baby really doesn't like being bathed then simply don't do it. Just 'top and tail'. Or try bringing him into your bath with you ??you may need your partner to help. Make sure that the water is cooler than you would normally have, and undress yourself first, then your baby. Hold him close to you and step into the bath, gradually letting him feel the water on his skin as he lies safely against you with your hands supporting him.

Preparation: The key to a calmer bathtime

Choose a quiet time when your baby is neither hungry nor full, unplug the phone, and gather all you need before you begin.

Make sure the room is warm, then run the bath 2-3 inches (5-7cm) deep using first cold, then hot water. The ideal temperature is 36-38 簞 C (96-100 簞 F) ??cooler than your own bath. If you put your elbow in, it shouldn't be so hot you can't keep it there for a few minutes.

Lay the baby on a change mat, and, before undressing him, dip cotton wool into cooled boiled water and wipe his face, behind his ears, and in the folds of his neck (use a new piece for each eye). You needn't wash your baby's hair every time you bathe him, but if you do, it's best to do this when he's still wearing a nappy, before the bath. Wrap him in a towel, hold him over the bath and dampen his head with a little water. Gently massage a drop of baby shampoo into the hair, rinse using a beaker of warm water, then towel the hair dry.

Next, undress your baby and, holding firmly but gently, lower him into the bath. Never take your hand off your baby during bathtime in case he slips under the water.

Swish water over his skin, sing softly and smile (yes, really!) so he feels calm and happy too.

After a few minutes, lift baby out of the bath, place him straight on the towel, wrap him warmly and pat dry.

Expert tips

  • Use liquid soap, it's much easier than chasing a bar of soap around the tub.
  • Try to have bathtime when your partner is around ??it's much easier if someone else can hand you things. Better still, teach your partner how to do the bath routine ??it's great for bonding.
  • If the doorbell or phone rings, ignore it, or take your baby with you, wrapped in a towel.