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Ask Dr. Sears: Safe Baby Baths

Q  Help! I'm nervous about bathing my newborn. Any tips?
A The more you do it, the easier and more enjoyable it'll be for both of you. Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, a full-body bath in the kitchen sink is a safe, time-honored favorite  -- but, of course, first be sure to remove any glassware or sharp utensils from the area. Whether you use the sink or an infant tub, hold her securely, with your hand under her neck so that she's semi-upright (head in the air but the rest of the body in the water).

My wife, Martha, preferred to bathe with the baby in the bathtub. To do this safely: Fill the tub to breast level with warm (not hot) water, seat yourself, and then have someone hand you your infant to place in your lap.

Wherever you choose to bathe your baby, remember that a soapy infant is a slippery one. To make sure that our babies stayed safely in our grip, we wore textured gloves (available at bath-and-body stores), which can double as an easy washcloth.

Babies need a whole-body bath only once or twice a week. On the other days, a sponge cleaning is fine. The areas that need the most attention are under the arms, the skin folds of the neck, the hands, and the diaper area. An infant's skin is sensitive, so pat (don't rub) her body gently and use a mild soap.

 

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