The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

For The Best Birth Possible!

Bathing Baby

Just use a washcloth for a sponge bath until the umbilical stump has dropped off.  Babies don't get very dirty, so long as you're cleaning their bottoms when you change the diaper. Once you get a little practice, you can bathe a baby in as little as 5 minutes.  If it's summer, and the water's tepid, there's no hurry.  Otherwise, don't dawdle - you want to be done before the baby gets chilled - and cranky!

1. Choose a room free of drafts.  A small room with a counter is great.  The bathroom or a kitchen is fine.
2. Shut off the ringer on the phone. Fill the baby tub with just a few inches of warm water.
3. Get a towel, a washcloth,and a plastic cup.
4. Test the temperature on the inside bend of your elbow to be sure it's not too hot.
5. Fill the cup from the tub; set it aside. Drape a towel over your shoulder.
6. Undress the baby, talking calmly.
7. Sit the baby in the tub, supporting with at least one hand.  NEVER take both hands off the baby.  
8. Gently wipe the baby's face with a wet washcloth, being very careful around the eyes.  You seldom need soap.
9. Gently wash baby's neck and body, getting in all the folds and creases.  You can do this using a washcloth or just your free hand; a little liquid soap won't hurt. (Not the antibacterial type, though - something very mild is best.)

10. Lift and turn the baby around to wash his back and bottom. If you're afraid the baby will be too slippery, lay a washcloth over your forearm.
11.  If the baby's a boy, don't retract the foreskin on the penis - leave it alone until he can do it himself - YEARS from now.
12.  If the baby's happy, play in the water for a few minutes.  ALWAYS have at least one hand on the baby!   
13. With your wet hand, scooping water, wet the baby's hair, put a tiny bit of shampoo in your hand to lather up his hair.  Lean him back a little, supporting him across his shoulders, then, taking that cup of clean water, pour it little by little over the baby's scalp to rinse.  
14.  As soon as he's rinsed, lift him out and put him on your chest, resting on the towel.  Fold the towel over him, or put a second towel on top of him.  (Once a baby's head is wet, he gets chilled quickly, so shampooing is the last thing to do in the tub.)
15. Pat him dry and get him dressed before he gets chilled. 
16.  Later, dump out the water, when both hands are free.
17.  If your baby actually needs oil or lotion, apply it when he's on the changing table - never make a wet baby slipperier in a room full of hard surfaces! If you want to use powder, put in on your hand, away from the baby - don't squeeze it directly on to the baby or a cloud of it gets in the air and into the baby's lungs: it's very bad for the lungs.

If both parents are home, you can shower instead.  If Dad's got a hairy chest, he's got traction.  (Heck, he may practically be a loofah!) Dad gets in the shower, rinses, then soaps up his chest. Mom hands baby to Dad, who holds him to his chest, then turns him around - presto! a clean (enough) baby! Dad leans to the side a bit and the baby catches some shower water to rinse off. Dad hands baby out to Mom who is holding a towel.

Or, parent takes a bath; partner hands baby to parent.  When they're done, the dry partner takes baby and dries him off.  What could be easier?  (Some babies like to nurse in the tub with Mom, just don't get chilled.  Sometimes a baby who isn't nursing well will do much better at nursing while in the bath with Mom.  This is sometimes called "rebirthing" and may be helpful if the birth was a C-section or very hurried or troubled.)