This is a picture of me and my beautiful 3 week old Baby Girl almost 7 years ago! I look a little freaked in the picture but just think of me as a 3 week old new mom. I've been thinking about this time period because our Cousin and his Wife became new parents last week and brought home a baby girl! Any time there is a First Time Mom in my atmosphere I can't stop thinking about her. I can't stop thinking about her because becoming a new mom was so hard for me! I didn't know what I was doing and I wanted instructions, ha! I wish the law required a nurse to come home from the hospital with a new mom and stay with the new family for a week. It would have been nice to say to a nurse at 3 am, "Is this normal?" or "Should she be crying now? I just fed her and I got a really good burp and she just woke up from a 4 hour nap!" And it would have been amazing to have a nurse say to us, "Dear, it looks like your baby gets overstimulated easily, why don't you think about limiting visitors." or "Sweetie, you're having postpartum symptoms, I'll take the middle of the night feeding, we'll do a bottle of formula and it will be okay, you need rest."
This was my daughter's first bath. It was terrifying because I thought the bath was supposed to be relaxing and calming. But, it wasn't! I didn't know why she was upset and it took a long time to calm her down. I felt helpless! This was so traumatic for us that I went searching for help. Thank goodness a co-worker had given me a book that had helped his new family, Secrets of The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau. It was the only baby help book we had in the house and I tore through it so searching guidance. My sleep-deprived self clung to the book!
The author of the book, was a nurse, tell it to your neighbor!!! Secrets of The Baby Whisperer was a game changer for me, I adopted her E.A.S.Y. routine and her advice made a big difference. The section I want to share with you so is titled, "Bathing 101: My Ten-Step Guide" because it saved me!
When you read this excerpt I'm sharing below, take only what helps you and leave the rest. The author's style of writing makes it seem like it's this way or the highway, this could send a new sleep-deprived mom into a downward spiral. In fact, my pediatrician had to suggest to me at the time to put down the book because, in his words, "baby parenting books can make parents feel inadequate." So read this only as a "guide" and know that using one or all of the ideas can lead to a happier and easier bath time. Here is Tracy Hogg's Ten-Step Guide on giving a baby a bath:
Bathing 101: My Ten-Step Guide
Below is the bathing procedure that I teach to my clients. Each step is important. Before you even begin, have everything on hand (see sidebar below), so that there's a minimum of fumbling when you take your slippery baby out of the water. By the way, I know that some people say you can bathe a baby in the kitchen sink, but I prefer the bathroom - it's where bathing ought to take place.
As you read the steps, remember that you also have to maintain a dialogue with your baby throughout. Keep talking. Listen and watch for his response, and continue to tell him what you're doing.
- Flat-bottomed plastic tub (I like to prop it on a bath stand rather than the floor, because that's easier on one's back, and because that's easier on one's back, and because the stands usually have drawers and a shelf to keep everything in easy reach)
- Pitcher of warm, clean water
- Liquid baby wash
- Two washcloths
- Hooded or oversized towel
- Clothes and fresh diaper ready on the changing table
1. Set the mood. Make sure the room is warm (72-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Put on music - any kind of gentle pop music (it's to help you relax as well).
2. Fill the tub two-thirds full. Put a capful of baby wash directly into the water. The temperature should be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly warmer than body temperature. Test the water on the inside of your wrist, never your hand; the water should feel warm, not hot, because Baby's skin is more sensitive than yours.
3. Pick up your baby. Place the palm of your right hand on your baby's chest, and scissor your fingers so that three fingers go under his left armpit and your thumb and index finger rest on his chest. (Reverse that if you're a lefty.) Slide your left hand behind his neck and shoulders and gently bend his body forward, transferring the weight of his body onto your right hand. Now place your left hand under his bum and lift. With him slumped over your right hand, he's now in a sitting position, bent forward slightly and perched on you left hand.
Never lower a baby into the tub on his or her back. It's disorienting
to an infant, somewhat like going backward off a diving board.
4. Put him in the tub. Slowly lower your baby into the tub in that sitting position, his feet first and then his bum. Then transfer your left hand to the back of his head and neck to support him. Very slowly ease him back into the water. Now your right hand is free. Use it to wet a washcloth on his chest to keep him warm.
5. Don't use soap directly on Baby's skin. Remember that you've put some baby wash in the water. With your fingers, wipe his neck and groin area. Lift his legs a bit so you can get to his bottom. Then take a little pitcher and pour the water over his body to rinse the soapy water off. He hasn't been playing in the sandbox, luv, so he's not really dirty. His bath at this point is more for establishing a routine than for cleanliness.
6. Use a wash cloth around his head to wash his hair. Very often babies haven't got much hair. Even if they do, they don't need a shampoo and set. Take the open washcloth and wipe it around his scalp. Pour fresh water to rinse, taking care not to get water in baby's eyes.
Never leave a baby unattended in a bathtub. If by chance you've
forgotten the baby wash, just rinse him or her with clean water
this time, and remember to have everything ready for the next bath.
7. Don't get water in his ears. Make sure the hand that's supporting his back doesn't dip too low in the water.
8. Get ready to end the bath. With your free hand, grab the hooded towel (or an oversized towel without a hood). Put the hood (or the corner of the oversized towel) between your teeth and tuck the ends under your armpits.
9. Take the baby out. Carefully shift your baby into the sitting position you used at the beginning of the bath. Most of his weight should be on your right hand, which, with fingers scissored, is supporting his chest. Lift him up, his back toward you, and place his head in the center of your chest a little under where the hood, or where the corner of the big towel, is. Wrap the ends of the towel under his body and flop the hood or towel corner over his head.
10. Take him to the changing table to get dressed. Do it the exact same way for the first three months. There's security in repetition. In time, depending on your baby's nature, instead of getting into his jammies straight-away, you can add a massage to this time of relaxation.
Source: Hogg, Tracy, Melinda Blau. Secrets of The Baby Whisperer. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005.
This is a picture of my Baby Boy's first bath, a happier experience because I was equipped with tools and experience.
For a new mom it's hard to see the forest for the trees. The mind hasn't had rest to allow for clear thinking. It helps if someone reminds you every now and then, that babies get older, you get wiser and eventually they sleep and you will, too. New moms need a sponsor, a cheerleader that's been through it, that's not a relative. Maybe I should start a program!
Please pass this post to a new mom, a new dad, a babysitter, a grandparent, anyone who has never known or has forgotten How To Give A Baby A Bath.