Trying to bathe a newborn can be a bit like trying to catch a slippery eel with your bare hands. Someone invented the Ove Glove to prevent oven burns, but where is the Love Glove to provide traction while washing your naked baby? Save yourself some stress in the beginning and just bathe your baby by wiping him down with a wet cloth, at least until the umbilical cord launches. After that you can graduate to an infant tub, or just hold him in the sink and wash him along with the lettuce. Just don’t put him in the salad spinner to dry.
When you switch to a tub, remember to check the temperature before you put your baby in the water. Waiting until he screams like a boiled lobster is not a safe temperature gauge. Since babies have sensitive skin, you should always use mild and gentle baby soap. Scented or bubble bath soap may cause a urinary tract infection in girls.
When bathing an infant, you need one arm to hold the baby, one to support his neck, one to get the soap and shampoo on the washcloth, and one to scrub. If you are trying to bathe the baby by yourself, this can be quite challenging unless you are also ambidextrous with your feet. You have to use your teeth to open the shampoo, your elbow to hold the washcloth, and your nose to scrub. Even though bathing a slick newborn is challenging, a new parent will learn to adapt. You must learn to use every part of your body to form extra appendages. What choice do you have other than not bathing him until the neighbors complain about the smell?
A modern invention that helps ease bath time problems is the convertible tub that changes as your baby grows. It has a sling to hold a newborn, although you still have to hold the baby, or he will flop around like a fish out of water. When a baby can sit up, a railing blocks him from falling forward. When he outgrows the railing, the infant tub is a great precursor to making the leap to the actual bathtub. If he outgrows the actual bathtub, try feeding him less.
Whoever invented the bathtub did not exactly have child safety in mind. (Let’s see – what if we combine a slippery, floppy child with a protruding metal faucet and a hard porcelain surface to catch a fall?) Wrap padding around the faucet and attach bath mats with suction cups not only to the bottom of the tub, but also along the sides to cushion any potential blows. A football helmet, while effective, might be over the top. To prevent injuries, a baby should never be left unattended in the tub, even for a second. This is just one of those times when a ringing phone needs to be ignored.
Babies are supposed to love bath time. The warm water relaxes them and prepares them for a nice long sleep – or not. Some babies scream and cry the whole time, especially if you are trying to film a home movie. If you have a Cat Baby who hates water, you have to find distraction methods. Try filling a cup, holding it up high and dumping it out in a waterfall. Blowing bubbles might calm a baby for a few minutes, but you can’t blow them and scrub simultaneously. The fastest way to stop bath time crying is to supply your baby with a wet washcloth to suck.
If you don’t have a Cat Baby, chances are you have a Tsunami Baby, who actually creates waves in the bathtub. Our daughter gently splashed in the tub, and then two boys came along and practically emptied all of the water out of the bath and onto me. They would laugh mischievously while slapping the water and splashing it all over the bathroom. Short of building a dam and wearing rain gear, the only solution was to use the shower curtain for cover while bathing them.