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How to bath an infant

How to bath an infant

During the first few months of a child’s life, it is a good idea to be prepared before bathing them. This makes bath time safer and easier. If you forget something you will have to carry the child with you to fetch the item.

Before you begin the bath, ensure you  have all of the following within arms reach:

  • A thermometer, if you have one, for testing water temperature.
  • Several clean pieces of cotton wool.
  • A sponge or cloth.
  • Baby cleanser or mild/organic soap.
  • If under two months old, a bowl of warm water, boiled and cooled for face washing.
  • At least one clean, dry towel. Hooded towels are good for wrapping up your baby from top to toe.
  • If you are bathing a boy it is a good idea to keep an old towel handy. He may have a wee when his nappy comes off and the last thing you want is urine everywhere
  • A clean nappy, baby powder  or baby moisturizer and clean clothes.
  • A warm blanket

Before you bath the infant, wash his/her face. It will be easier to do this before the child is in the water. Soap or cleanser is not necessary to clean baby’s face. Dip and squeeze out clean pieces of soft cotton wool dipped in warm, previously boiled water. If there is mucus around the child’s eyes or nose, dab this gently to soften it before attempting to remove it. Wipe each eye from the outside of the face towards the nose using a fresh piece of dampened cotton wool for each.

Once baby’s face is clean you can proceed to bath time:

  • Ensure the room and bath are comfortably warm but not hot. Water tempretures should not exceed 37 degrees celcius. If you do not have a thermometer you can use the elbow/ wrist test. If it feels to hot on either of these areas, add cold water until it feels luke warm.
  • For infants up to 6 months of age fill the bath with approximately 13cm of water, or enough to cover babies shoulders. For older children the water should never come higher than their waist line (if sitting).
  • Once the bath is ready bring the infant to the bath area, undress and remove the diaper. If the diaper is soiled, first clean the infants genital area before putting him/her in the water.
  • Slowly place the infant in the bath ensuring you have a good grip under the arm opposite you and under babies neck and head. In the water baby may slip into the water if you do not.
  • Wash the infant using a mild, unperfumed baby safe soap. If the child’s skin is dry or tender you could add a little bath oil to the water. Using your hand, cloth or sponge, clean the infant from top to bottom and front to back. For the genital area, a gentle once over is all that’s needed. Wash your baby´s hair and scalp very gently, using soap or a baby shampoo. Do this only once or twice a week.
  • Lift the child out of the bath, and place him/her straight onto the dry towel. Wrap the infant up and pat, rather than rub, dry. You may want to smooth on a mild moisturising lotion or cream, or oil if the skin is dry.
  • Dress the child in clean clothes, wrap a dry, warm blanket around him/her, and voila a beautiful happy clean baby.

Tip: Never, ever leave a child under the age of 8 alone in a bath, ever! Never leave your baby alone in water. Do not answer phone calls or the doorbell when bathing a young child. If you do, pick up the child and carry him/her with you. Let everyone know when you will be bathing the child , you are less likely to encounter disturbances.


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