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Cleaning your teeny tiny baby for the first time can be scary for new moms, but it's not that bad. Follow these steps and you'll be an old pro in no time.
• To be safe, gather all your supplies together before you begin: mild baby soap, cotton balls, two washcloths, towel, a clean diaper, and clean clothes. You should never take your hand off your baby while you're bathing him, even for a second.
• Fill the sink or a small bowl with lukewarm water; you'll be bathing your baby next to it on the counter. Undress baby and wrap him in a towel. Some babies freak out when they're naked and cold. If this is the case for your newborn, expose only one section of skin at a time.
• Dip a cotton ball in the water and wipe your baby's eyes, from the bridge of his nose outward. Use a fresh ball for each eye.
• Always keeping one hand on baby, dip the washcloth in the sink. Keep the washcloth just damp, not soaking, to minimize drips and the possibility of getting soap into baby's eyes. Wipe his face and outer parts of his ears with the damp cloth. You don't need to use soap on his face.
• Lightly soap the washcloth if desired. Wash his neck and scalp, then work your way down the front of his body. Make sure to clean between folds of skin.
• Rinse the soap off with a second damp cloth, drying and rewrapping your baby with a towel as you go. Don't wash the umbilical stump, and try to keep it dry.
• Flip baby over onto his belly with his head turned to one side. Repeat the washing, rinsing and drying. Wash his bottom and genitals last. If your son hasn't been circumcised, don't try to push back his foreskin. Pat baby dry, then dress him in a clean diaper and clothes.
You'll only need to give your baby sponge baths until his umbilical cord stump comes off (usually no later than 3 or 4 weeks), then you can move on to baths in his baby tub.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation. Adapted from The Parents Answer Book: From Birth Through Age Five
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.