BY BABYCENTRE MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD FEB 2017
FRESHEN UP ON BABY BATHING BASICS FROM SUDS TO SAFETY
Your baby may love splashing about in the water, but there are some important rules to follow to make bathtime safe as well as fun. The first and most important rule is never leave your baby alone in the bath.
Make sure the bath water is comfortably warm, but not hot, before putting your baby in. Put cold water in the bath first, and then add the hot water. Mix the water well to make sure there aren’t any hot spots. This will reduce the risk of scalding your baby. Never put your baby in the bath when the water is still running. The water temperature can change quickly.
You can buy a thermometer to check the temperature of the bath water. Some thermometers are also a fun bath toy or a piece of bath equipment, such as a mat. Most thermometers indicate an ideal temperature of 37 degrees C to 38 degrees C, which is around body temperature. If you’re not using a thermometer, a quick way to check is to use your elbow rather than your hand to gauge the temperature. The water should feel neither hot nor cold.
If you have separate hot and cold taps on your bath, you could fit a mixing valve to the hot tap. This helps to control the water temperature so it won’t get too hot as it comes out of the tap. A child can get second-degree or third-degree burns within just seconds of being in water that’s too hot.
If you’re using the family bath to bathe your baby, cover the taps with an inflatable safety cover or similar. Try to teach your baby not to touch the taps as she grows into toddlerhood. Even if she can’t turn them on now, she’ll soon be strong enough, and she could scald herself.
Even though her bath may be warm, your baby can quickly lose body heat once you take her out of the water, so keep the room warm. When you lift your baby out of the bath, wrap her in a hooded towel and pat her dry before putting her nappy on. Then wrap your baby in a dry towel or blanket again, and give her a cuddle for about 10 minutes to keep her warm, before dressing her.
For newborns and babies up to six months old, run the water to about five inches deep. Or just make sure there’s enough water so that your baby settles in the water with her shoulders well covered.
Never fill the bath more than waist-high (in a sitting position) for older babies and children. And never put your baby into a bath when the water is still running. The depth of the water could quickly rise too high.
As you lower your baby into the bath, hold her firmly under her bottom with one hand. Place your other arm under the back of her neck and her shoulders. Once your baby is in the bath and settled, you can use the hand that was supporting her bottom to wash and swish the water around. Keep a firm hold on your baby with your other hand, and support her head above the water.
You may decide to use a bath support that frees your hands for washing your baby. If your baby can’t sit up yet, a bath cradle will support her in the water. If she’s old enough to sit up, you can use a bath seat.
Always stay with your baby while she’s in the bath. Even if one of your older children is in the bath with her or you are using a baby bath, bath support, or bath seat, it’s important to stay and hold or watch your baby.
Babies can drown in less than two inches of water, and it can take just seconds for a baby to slip or topple into the water and be helpless. Babies don’t struggle or make a noise when they get into difficulties in water, so you may not realize that anything has happened until it’s too late.
If you’re using your big bath, put a rubber bathmat on the bottom of the bath or towel. As your baby grows, teach her to stay sitting down in the bath at all times to discourage her from standing up, slipping, or losing her balance. Get into the habit of always emptying the bath as soon as bathtime is over.
Choose a mild, chemical-free cleanser. Remember, just because it says it’s for babies doesn’t mean it is good for babies. Take hospitals for instance, who are still bathing babies in Johnson’s Baby wash, which contains a veritable slew of chemicals. Mind you, hospitals are supporting a company which was proven in court to have knowingly continued to sell consumers their talcum baby powder they knew was causing cancer. It wasn’t until they were hit in their pocketbooks with losing lawsuits that they stopped selling that particular carcinogen. The moral: read your labels. If you are unfamiliar with an ingredient, don’t buy a product until you know it is safe.
It’s safe to have a bath with your baby once she is about two months old and you’re confident about handling her. You’ll need someone there to hand your baby to you and take her from you while you get out of the bath.
Alternatively, your partner may like to get in the bath while you help. There’s nothing like skin-to-skin contact for strengthening attachment between dad and baby.
Whichever one of you is getting in the bath with your baby, you should shower or wash first. Then simply prepare the bathroom and bath in the same way as if you were just bathing your baby.
Other Safety Measures
Never leave your baby unattended in the bath, even for a moment. Before you start, have everything you need for your baby’s bath ready. Make sure towels, toiletries, two clean diapers, and a change of clothes are all within reach. When your baby is a newborn, it’s a good idea to have extra supplies because babies can urinate and, more particularly, poo unexpectedly and explosively!
If someone knocks at the door or the phone rings and you feel you must answer it, scoop your baby up in a towel and take her with you. #