As mothers, we endeavour to be as gentle with our baby as possible. However, there still are a number of things that can go wrong when it comes to giving your baby a bath. The traditional way of bathing can be especially tricky, as opposed to a tub bath or a sponge bath.
Here are the 7 baby bath safety tips that paediatricians have emphasised time and again. Many of us are prone to making baby bath mistakes unknowingly, which is why we must be extra careful to avoid them.
Bath Time Safety for Babies - 7 Tips by Paediatricians
1. Position Your Baby Correctly
The correct way to place your baby is: you sit on the floor of the bathroom with your legs outstretched in front of you; you cross your ankles over one another; and you place your baby with her head near your ankles/feet.
This way, you and your baby can both see each other. This helps you to monitor signs of distress too. Your baby's neck remains supported through the entire bath, as she is sleeping on your legs.
While washing your baby's hair, simply turn the baby over on her tummy, and very slightly open your legs apart, without unlocking your ankles. This way, the water does not enter her nose as you pour it over the head. Also, the slight gap in your legs ensure her tummy is not pressed.
If you go wrong in any of these steps, it could potentially lead to a choking hazard for your baby. Make sure you follow all these baby bath care tips to the T!
WATCH: Step-by-step Guide on How to Give Your Baby a Bath!
2. Give Your Baby an Oil Massage
The traditional bathing method involves giving your baby an oil massage before the bath. While old wives and dadi-nani may tell you stories of how they used sarson ka tel, or any other oil (like coconut oil, mustard oil), such oils can sometimes give rise to skin issues like irritation, rashes, etc. The best practice you can follow is: go for a patch test
. Try the new oil/any new product on a small part of your baby – the arms, or legs. If there is no reaction, go for it.
Some other mistakes include giving a very rigorous massage, using warm/hot oil, oiling the scalp even if there are signs of dandruff/cradle cap, etc. Make sure you do not use too much oil – it takes twice the amount of soap to wash it all off (leaving your baby more dry than before), and there is considerable risk of your baby slipping from your grip while carrying her around during her bath. Finally – take proper care of your own hands, so that they are soft and clean, before you give your baby an oil massage/a bath. Also Read: 6 Times You Shouldn't Give Your Baby an Oil Massage
3. Don't Try To Get Rid of Body Hair
Many of us moms are obsessed with removing unwanted body hair from the baby's body – especially if it’s a baby girl. Not only is this unnecessary, it can also be quite a painful experience for the baby. Many moms will swear by using besan
to scrub their baby's body and thereby get rid of body hair, called lanugo. However, doctors say that lanugo is actually good for the baby – it forms a natural protective layer above the baby's skin. So why would you want to get rid of it?
We urge all new moms to bear in mind – lanugo is no big deal. Most babies will shed their lanugo before they are born; some babies will be born with their lanugo intact. However, lanugo sheds off naturally on its own, within a few weeks since birth. Give it time!
Our mommy blogger Soumya
says, "When my daughter was born, she had excessive hair on her forehead, ears and arms. I was a bit surprised to see that since I had never encountered such a thing in my life. The moment the elders at home saw this, they start giving all kind of advice to remove the hair. I checked this with my paediatrician and what she said truly opened my eyes."Read more about her experience here: These 6 Common Practices Are VERY Harmful For Your Baby!
4. Use Water of The Right Temperature
This one seems pretty basic, right? As long as the bath water is not entering your baby's nose, you are good to go, right? Well, not necessarily.
The traditional way of bathing your baby recommends you to splash the water gently on your baby's abdomen instead of simply dousing mug after mug of water on her head. This is said to aid the baby's digestive system. Weird? Maybe, but it’s true.
Another common mistake moms could make in infant bath safety is while checking the temperature of the water
: it is important you dip your hand into the bucket, and check the temperature of the undercurrent, instead of just dipping a finger. Water that seems cool on the surface maybe hot within. Make sure the water is more than just lukewarm. It will allow your baby to relax and sleep well after her bath, giving you some much needed peace and quiet!
While setting up a bath, it is a good idea to run the water first, at a good hot temperature. That way, by the time you get other things in place and your baby ready for her bath, the water will have cooled off to the right degree.
5. Be Very Careful if You Smoke The Baby
As the bath is done, traditional newborn bathing tips recommend you 'smoke' the baby. This involves holding your baby above a heated pan containing either clove, or camphor, or any other things recommended by old wives. The smoke is said to help your baby dry up naturally, without requiring you to use a towel on their soft, delicate skin. It helps calm babies down, especially babies that have been particularly discomforted during the bath, and helps put them off to sleep for a while.
While there are no documented studies that say smoking is either good or bad, there are certain things you must follow. Make sure you hold the baby sufficiently above the pan, so that the fumes arising from there do not directly enter your baby's nose.
If your baby looks distressed, stop immediately!
6. Additional Risks For Moms Who Have Had C-section Deliveries
For mommies who had a C-sectional delivery, giving your baby a bath the traditional way might not be the best idea. The position required to be assumed by the mother puts her C-section scar at considerable risk of rupturing.
It is advised you consult your gynaec before you start giving your baby a bath. Do not insist on bathing your baby if your scar has not completely healed. It would be best to enroll someone's help, if you insist on bathing your baby the traditional way and are unable to do it yourself.
7. Take All Preparations With Proper Foresight
There are a lot of things that are going to happen during the bath: the bathroom floor is going to be slippery and sticky, you are going to be in a position that does not allow you to manoeuvre around freely/easily, and you are going to need all baby supplies handy.
The easiest thing to do is to enroll someone to help you out – either you can hire a masseuse or ayaah, or you can ask your MIL or mother to help you out if it is feasible for them to do so. Even if however you need to manage everything solo, do not worry. It will be best to plan your first bath very carefully. If required, go through each and every step in your head, and make notes about what you need at which step. While it may seem like an exaggeration, you could use a dummy and 'act out' the entire bath, before you actually begin! Here is a general list of things you will require to bathe your baby:
Other things to take care of bathroom safety include:
- Bath supplies – baby soap, baby wash, baby shampoo, etc.
- Extra towels
- Fresh set of clothes
- Plastic bag/old newspaper (to throw away soiled diaper, any other disposable products, product wrappers, etc.)
So these were some imporant doctor-recommended tips on giving your baby a bath the traditional way! Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
- Make sure you yourself wear simple clothes that do not restrict any of your movements.
- Make sure your bathroom is clean before you take your baby in.
- Keep all distractions away – especially your cell-phone. Remember, you can always call people back, you can always reply a little late to a text, and whoever is at the door can wait a while before you open it – but do not let that take your mind off the task at hand! The safety of your baby should be your only priority while bathing her.
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