Bathing a baby can be a wonderful bonding experience for both parent and child, but it can also be a daunting task for new parents. Bathing your baby during the winter months can be a challenge, as you want to keep your baby clean and healthy, but you also want to make sure they stay warm and comfortable.
Winter baby bathing guide: keep your baby clean and moisturised from head to toes
The key to successful baby bath time in winter is preparation and having the right tools. In this blog, we will walk you through how to bath a baby from birth, including using a bath brush for cradle cap, a sponge for washing baby's body, and all-natural skin care. We will also offer tips for making winter bathing more comfortable and talk through the benefits of an after-bath baby massage to complete this special bath time ritual.
When do you bath a newborn baby?
While bathing a newborn may seem like a routine part of the post-birth process, there is growing evidence that suggests delaying the baby's first bath can offer a number of benefits for both the baby and mother.
Delaying the baby's first bath allows for immediate skin-to-skin contact between the baby and mother (or father or other caregiver). Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to offer many benefits, including regulating the baby's body temperature, promoting bonding, and supporting breastfeeding. When a baby is taken away for a bath immediately after birth, it interrupts this important time for skin-to-skin contact and can make it more difficult for the baby to regulate their body temperature.
Vernix is a white, waxy substance that covers a baby's skin when they are born. It has several important functions, including protecting the baby's delicate skin from amniotic fluid and bacteria, as well as providing nourishment and moisture to the skin. Removing this protective layer too soon can lead to dry skin and potential skin irritation.
The microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms that live on and inside our bodies. It is increasingly recognized as an important factor in our overall health, and research has shown that a baby's microbiome is shaped in large part by their exposure to their mother's microbiome during birth and in the immediate post-birth period.
Delaying the baby's first bath allows for more time for the baby to be exposed to their mother's microbiome, which can have long-term benefits for their health. Some experts suggest waiting until baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off before giving them their first bath, usually around two weeks after birth. In the meantime, you can clean their face, neck, hands, and diaper area with a warm, damp sponge.
What do you need for their first bath?
Newborns have delicate skin that requires extra care and attention. When it's time for their first bath, start by gathering all the supplies you will need, including:
- • A clean, warm towel
- • A baby bathtub or sink
- • Mild, natural baby wash
- • A gentle body oil formulated with natural ingredients
- • A soft sponge and bath brush
- • A cup or pitcher for rinsing
- • A clean diaper and clothes
How to bath a newborn baby?
Before you begin the bath, make sure the room is warm and draft-free. You can use a space heater or turn up the central heating to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Also, try to minimize the time your baby spends undressed. If your baby is prone to dry skin, you may want to reduce the frequency of baths during the winter months. Try to limit baths to every other day, or even less frequently if your baby's skin is very sensitive.
Fill the bathtub or sink with warm water. The ideal water temperature for a baby's bath should be between 36.5°C to 38°C (97.7°F to 100.4°F). It's important to ensure that the water is not too hot and not too cold, as this can be uncomfortable and even harmful for the baby.
To check the water temperature, you can use a bath thermometer or test the water with your wrist or elbow to make sure it feels comfortably warm. Always monitor the water temperature throughout the bath and never leave your baby unattended in the bath.
Place your baby in the water, making sure to support their head and neck or consider using a bath seat or support to help keep your baby safe and comfortable during the bath. This can also free up your hands to wash your baby more effectively.
Use a soft sponge to gently wash your baby's body, starting with their face and working your way down. Pay special attention to the diaper area, as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
As winter air can be particularly drying on baby’s delicate skin, avoid using harsh soaps that strip away their skin’s natural protective barrier. Instead opt for a mild, natural baby wash or mineral soak that is pH balanced. Adding a few drops of natural bath or body oil to the bath water can also help lock in moisture.
Rinse your baby thoroughly with clean water using a cup or pitcher. Once you have finished bathing your baby, wrap them in a warm towel and dry them gently, making sure to pat them dry rather than rubbing. Don't forget to clean your baby's ears, nose, and neck folds.
Using a bath brush for cradle cap
Cradle cap is a common condition in babies that causes scaly patches on the scalp. It is not harmful, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable for your baby. Using a bath brush can help to gently remove the scales and prevent them from building up.
To use a bath brush for cradle cap, start by applying a natural body oil to baby’s hair about 10-15 minutes before their bath. Once you place baby in the bath, use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush their scalp in a circular motion to help loosen and lift the scale. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing too hard, as this can cause irritation.
Then wet your baby's hair with warm water. Apply a small amount of baby hair wash to their scalp and massage it in gently with your fingers, removing any remaining cradle cap flakes.
Rinse your baby's scalp thoroughly with clean water and pat it dry with a towel. You can repeat this process every few days until the cradle cap clears up.
Using a sponge for washing baby's body
A soft sponge or washcloth is perfect for cleaning your baby's delicate skin. Using a sponge can also be helpful for hard-to-reach areas, such as between their toes and in their neck folds.
Choose a soft, non-toxic sponge that is gentle on your baby's skin. Wet the sponge with warm water and add a small amount of baby cleanser. Use the sponge to gently wash your baby's body, being careful not to rub too hard or irritate their skin.
After you have finished washing your baby, rinse them thoroughly with clean water, making sure to remove any residue. Pat your baby dry with a soft towel, paying special attention to the areas between their toes and in their neck folds.
All-natural ingredients for baby bath time
When it comes to baby bath time, it's important to use gentle, all-natural ingredients that won't irritate your baby's delicate skin. Here are a few options to consider:
Coconut oil is a natural moisturiser that can help to keep your baby's skin soft and hydrated. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help to prevent diaper rash and other skin irritations.
Roman chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help to soothe your baby's skin and calm them before bedtime. Helps improve hydration for sensitive skin prone to dryness or irritation.
Jojoba oil is non-greasy to simulate the body's natural oils and known to offer antibacterial attributes to help replenish the skin's natural moisture barrier.
Kakadu plum offers a surge of hydration, helping to seal in moisture and leave skin feeling silky soft after bathing and is boosted with anti-inflammatory properties.
Clinically proven, Kaolin clay is rich in silica with a natural pH similar to the skin to offer cleansing and soothing properties known to remove impurities and help calm irritated skin without stripping its natural oils.
While bathing your baby is an important part of their daily routine, it's not just about getting them clean. It's also an opportunity for bonding and relaxation. Once your baby is clean and dry, it's a great idea to finish off their bath with a massage and moisturiser. Winter air can be dry and harsh on your baby's skin. Use a gentle moisturiser after the bath to keep your baby's skin hydrated and protected.
Why massage and moisturiser are important
A massage and moisturiser are important for your baby's skin and overall wellbeing for several reasons. First, a massage can help to relax and soothe your baby, which can be especially helpful before bedtime. It can also help to improve your baby's digestion and circulation.
Second, using a moisturiser or body oil can help to keep your baby's delicate skin soft and hydrated. This is especially important during winter when the humidity in the air decreases. Babies have sensitive skin that can easily become dry or irritated, so it's important to use a gentle, non-irritating moisturiser to protect and nourish their skin.
How to massage your baby
Before you begin the massage, make sure your baby is comfortable and relaxed. Find a warm, quiet room and lay your baby on a soft towel or blanket. Warm a natural massage oil or moisturiser in your clean hands rather than applying directly to baby. The oil or lotion will nourish baby’s skin and lubricate your hands to make the massage more comfortable. Here are some steps to follow:
Start at your baby's feet and work your way up towards their head, using gentle, circular motions with your fingertips. Make sure to pay attention to the toes, ankles, and legs.
Move on to your baby's arms and hands, using gentle strokes and circular motions. Be sure to massage the palms and fingers as well.
Massage your baby's chest and tummy with light strokes in a circular motion. This can help to improve digestion and relieve gas.
Finally, massage your baby's back with long, gentle strokes from the neck down to the buttocks.
Be sure to use gentle, soothing strokes and pay attention to your baby's cues. If your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy, stop the massage and try again later.
Choosing the right moisturiser
When it comes to choosing an oil or moisturiser for your baby, it's important to choose a gentle, non-irritating formula that is free from nasties, dyes, and other harsh ingredients. Look for a moisturiser that is specifically designed for babies and that contains natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or jojoba oil. These ingredients are gentle and nourishing for your baby's delicate skin.
Bathing a baby can be a wonderful bonding experience for both parent and child, but it can also be intimidating for new parents. By following these simple tips and using all-natural ingredients, you can ensure that your baby's winter bath time is safe, gentle, and enjoyable.
Remember to always use mild, natural baby wash and oil and use a soft sponge or washcloth to gently wash your baby's body. Don’t forget to clean their ears, nose, and neck folds. Keep baby warm and comfortable, limit the bath time to 10 minutes and make sure to dry your baby thoroughly after the bath.
If your baby has cradle cap, consider using a soft-bristled brush to gently remove the scales, and if your baby has skin irritations, try using all-natural ingredients like coconut oil, jojoba oil, Roman chamomile, or kaolin clay to soothe their skin.
Finishing your baby's bath with a massage and moisturiser can be a great way to help your baby relax, improve digestion and circulation, and protect their delicate skin from the cold, dry air. Remember to choose a gentle, non-irritating moisturiser and use gentle, soothing strokes during the massage.
Together with the right tools and a little practice, baby’s winter bath time ritual will be a relaxing, enjoyable and bonding time together.