Bath time can be one of the most relaxing and fun things that you do with your new baby and quickly, it becomes a part of the day they look forward to. It also has the added advantage of being a great way to wind down your baby and signal the end of the day.
The level of enjoyment your newborn baby shows in the water at bathtime is usually the best indicator for the sort of bath you should have with them. Some are scared of the water or of feeling exposed with their clothes off or not being held, and will therefore cry unless you are actually in the bath at the same time, holding them in your arms. Having a bath at the same time as your baby is often as enjoyable for you as it is for your baby. It’s a great opportunity for you to have skin-to-skin contact with them, which is important for bonding. (Just make sure there is someone in the house to take the baby from you before you try and get out.) Other newborn babies take immediately to the water and are happy for you to hold them at arm’s length in a baby bath. If you skip the baby bath stage and put your newborn straight into the big bath, there are some very handy bath props that you can use to help the baby feel more secure (and can help you feel less in danger of them slipping out of your hands). These are in the form of bath seats or bath supports. Please be aware though that these are in no way an alternative to you holding onto your baby at all times, as babies can and do slip out of these props.
Before you start bathing your baby, bring in the towels and all other things you will need immediately after the bath. Keep it all within reach so you don’t have to let go of baby to get them. Don’t ever leave the room while your baby (or young children) are in the bath, and never leave them under the supervision of older siblings, even for a minute. Non-slip mats or grippers in your bathtub are also essential. Make sure you have a clean, dry, fluffy towel for baby and that the room is warm. If you don’t have a bathroom heater, then it’s best to make sure your baby’s bedroom is nice and warm before taking them back in there to get dressed.
Bath time is a great opportunity to sing and chat to your baby, describing to them what you are doing and encouraging them to move and splash. Show them some bath toys to stimulate their senses, let them feel them and watch the water pour from them. Squeaky toys are also fun. Use sponges, flannels, bubbles (even shaving cream) to stimulate your baby’s senses. Unbreakable plastic baby mirrors will also provide entertainment to even the youngest baby.
Be wary of using soaps and cleaners on your baby’s skin as you don’t want to strip off the baby’s natural moisture layer. In most cases, warm water will wash your baby’s skin well enough. But if you do choose to use special baby soaps and cleansers to gently wash your baby’s skin and hair, you might want to try some of the natural, organic, eco-friendly products that are on the market these days.
Note that if you prefer showering with your baby, don’t forget that wet, soapy babies are very tricky to hold and it’s a long way down if they slip out of your arms.
Even small babies can enjoy the therapeutic effects of essential oils; although great caution must be taken, as these oils are extremely concentrated and must be very diluted before use. For babies up to 2-years-old, a 1% dilution is recommended (5 drops essential oil to 2 Tbsp carrier oil). Make sure you are using only pure, natural essential oils, as fragrance oils or other synthetic oils have no healing properties.
It is not recommended to use essential oils on babies younger than 3-months-old. They are too strong in most instances to use at this stage. After 3 months of age, the most suitable oils to use on a daily basis are chamomile and lavender.
Other essential oils that are commonly accepted for use with older babies are: