A few things to remember:
For bath number one, you may only want to fill the tub a few inches to see how your baby reacts to the water. Make sure you allow her ample time to get accustomed to its feel.
Your baby doesn’t need a bath every day. Her skin is oh-so sensitive, so you should stick to a sponge bath around the face, neck and diaper area when she gets dirty between bath times.
Your baby’s first bath should wait until after the umbilical cord stump falls off and heals, and if your little boy has been circumcised, you’ll need to wait for that to begin healing, too. That should take place within a couple of very short weeks, but before then just use a soft damp cloth to give your baby a gentle sponge bath.
Gather all of your baby bathing tools into one very accessible pile. You’ll want to make sure that once the bath begins you don’t leave your baby’s side for any reason—period. It only takes one second for something to go seriously wrong in the water—even a tiny bit of water—so once bath time starts it’s all-eyes-on-baby for the duration of the scrub session. It may be worth it to purchase a shower-caddy or basket that you can fill with everything you’ll need.
Whether you choose to use a freestanding baby tub, an inflatable wash bin that fits directly into your bathtub or the kitchen sink is completely up to you. Make sure the bottom of the basin you choose has a liner that keeps your baby from slipping. If it doesn’t, you can use a foam pad or towel—just make sure you clean and dry it after each use. The area you pick as the wash space should be in a room that’s warm and draft-free. Overall, you want a setting that is comfortable for both you and your baby.
Fill the tub with water, paying very close attention to its level and temperature. Check the temp by dipping your wrist into the water, or if you’re feeling fancy, you can purchase a water thermometer that will let you know exactly how hot is too hot (a quick tip: turn your water heater down to 120 degrees; this will ensure that the water never gets scalding hot). Make sure the tub isn’t filled so deep that your baby is submerged; the water should only rise to her mid-section.
Once everything is ready, it’s time to dip the baby. Make sure you don’t just plop her into the water for the first bath—you want to make the experience warm, fun and exciting, not scary. Dip her toes into the tub, making sure to give encouragement with lots of mommy sing-song cooing and smiling. Continue splashing the water up onto your baby’s legs and then onto her belly, gauging her excitement and interest level. Once you’re both comfortable, gently lower your baby into the water.
Now it’s time to get down to business. Designate one arm as a baby headrest while you start the sudsing process. Use a cotton ball to gently wipe her eyes, then wash her head and scalp with a tiny drop of baby shampoo, making sure you keep the suds from running into her face. Rinse the scalp with the washcloth, gently wiping all of the soap away. You’ll want to start washing her body beginning with the chest and working your way down. Don’t forget to wipe behind the ears and between her fingers and toes!
Now that your baby is clean and fluffy, remove her from the tub and softly place her onto a towel. Starting with the head and face, gently pat your baby dry while trying to keep her covered and warm.
If the first bath isn’t perfectly by the book, don’t sweat the details. You’ll have many chances to perfect your baby bathing methods. All you need to remember is that a safe and happy bath is a good bath!