Bathing With Your Baby

A bath with your baby can be the most relaxing bonding experience. Here's how to do it right.
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Bringing your baby into the tub with you can be a wonderful bonding experience. And once they get used to it, babies love to be cradled in the bath.

An important caveat, however: Do not immerse your newborn in water until the umbilical-cord area is completely healed. (In fact, your baby really only needs a sponge bath every few days for the first six weeks.)

Another tip: When you’re ready to bathe together, choose a time when you’re relaxed and unrushed so you can both enjoy it.

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For your own happy (and safe) mommy-baby bath, follow these simple steps:

  1. Place soap, a washcloth and towels on the edge of the tub or within easy reach. Draw the bath, making sure that the water is warm, not hot.
  2. Use only sensitivity-tested, baby-specific products in the water and on your baby. “A baby’s skin is very effective at absorbing whatever is placed on it,” says Lawrence Frank Eichenfield, M.D., chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego.
  3. Get in the tub with your baby or have someone hand him to you after you’re in. Cradle him in your arms while you wash and play with him. Sing and talk to him and make some faces.
  4. Rinse him well (a crucial step), hand him out of the tub to your partner or another adult, towel yourself off and dry your baby. Lay your baby down on the bed or changing table and apply a light, moisturizing massage oil to his body.
  5. Give him a simple, soothing massage. Warm up your hands with a cream, gel or oil. Use slow, gentle strokes as you work it into your baby’s skin. With any luck, your bundle of joy will be snoozing before you’re done.

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