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New Mom Survival Guide: Bathtime Basics

The 411 on everything you’ll need to know before baby’s first bath.

Bathing a small baby can definitely be daunting, but take a few basic precautions and there’s really nothing to be afraid of...except maybe baby's shrieks of protest. (Warning: Infants often hate their first few baths.) Our biggest piece of advice to you is never, ever, ever leave baby alone in a bath, not even for a second. Sure, this may sound like a no-brainer, but it's too crucial not to mention. If you absolutely must leave the bathroom for some reason, pick up your dripping baby and take him with you. Infants can quickly drown in less than an inch of water.

Before you get started, make sure you’ve got the right gear. Here’s a brief rundown of what you’ll want to have on hand:

[  ] Baby bathtub
[  ] Baby soap*
[  ] Baby shampoo
[  ] 2 to 4 soft towels or hooded baby towels
[  ] Baby hairbrush
[  ] Soft washcloths (use a different color or pattern than your diaper washcloths!)
[  ] Plastic bowl or cup (to make it easier to rinse off the soap and shampoo)

If you’re going to use a baby tub, we suggest a plastic newborn bathtub that fits in the kitchen or bathroom sink. (Your best bet: the Eurobath tub from Primo. It’s lightweight and portable and even has a safety position that prevents baby from slipping.)

To give baby a bath, first test the water with your elbow (a better gauge than your hand) to be sure it isn't too hot. Never put baby in the tub while the water is running, because the temperature can change suddenly and cause burns. Get baby wet by pouring warm water over him with a plastic bowl or cup. This will keep him from sliding into the water and inhaling it or getting startled. (Once he's able to sit up, you can fill the tub up to his midsection, the same way you'd bathe yourself.) Gently wash him with a soft washcloth and super-mild soap, then use the bowl to rinse again. Finally, use caution when lifting him out of the tub and wrapping him in a towel (preferably one with a hood and bunny ears) -- brand new skin is extra slippery when wet.

> Need more advice? We asked Bump Lori, our resident expert on...well, everything baby, to offer up some of her best bath time tips. Here's what she had to say:

[  ] "Store bath toys in a mesh bag and hang it in the shower. It makes for easy cleanup and helps the toys dry faster. Be sure you squirt ALL the water out of the squirt toys before storing. Those need to be replaced often, since they can become a moldy nightmare."
[  ] "Make sure you have a sturdy bath mat inside the tub. Once baby starts trying to stand up (and even when sitting), slipping is a real hazard and a good, textured bath mat that sticks to the tub will help."
[  ] "Get a faucet cover -- they make great decorative ones (ours creates a fountain effect). It will reduce baby’s risk of slipping and hitting his head on the faucet."
[  ] "Protect your own knees with gardeners' mats. I have two that I put next to the tub and kneel on when giving my baby, Cooper, a bath. It's so much more comfy than just kneeling on the tile floor or even on a small rug. They're lightweight and foamy and don’t take up a lot of space."

-- The Bump Editors

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