This is part of a series about Washing Baby.
I have been showering with my lovely little bundle of joy from the day his belly button stump fell off.
As a newborn, I would wash IV every three to four days, like his pediatrician suggested. However, after a while, I felt like that was gross and unreasonable. I felt like fear of his skin drying out was no excuse to allow for a lack of hygiene (I would rather my baby have dry skin, than chronic diaper rash). Even more confusing, his skin was drying out anyway. The parts of IV’s face and forehead that I washed with Johnson & Johnson soap instantly sprouted pimples. This made me wonder if it was actually an allergic reaction, not “newborn acne”. Also, his scalp started drying out and peeling (commonly called “cradle cap”). This was when I was washing him every 3-4 days! According to ped logic, I shouldn’t be having these issues. I concluded that the problems I saw were reactions his skin was having to the Johnson and Johnson soap. After consulting the Google, I changed to unscented castile soap, and his newborn acne, and cradle cap vanished within a few weeks. Plus, there is no strong artificial smell to mask his natural sweet milky baby aroma! My baby smells so good now!
At first, I washed him with washcloths, or I would wash him in the bathroom sink, but as soon as his umbilical stump *finally* came off, I started taking him into the shower with me. I started washing him every other day, and the condition of his butt drastically improved, but he would still have the occasional rash. So, eventually, it became everyday and I have not regretted it one bit. Why? Boom. No more rashes (except for a stint when he started solids). You have to remember to thoroughly dry them off with a towel. Don’t forget the belly button! Or it will trap water, dry out, and turn white. The rest of his body is bright, healthy, and squeaky clean!
To read about my passion for diaper hygiene and battles with yeast infections & diaper rashes, click here. Suffice it to say: Please change your baby’s wet diapers every 2-3 hours, and their poopy diapers immediately.
Now, to the point!
HOW TO: SHOWERING WITH BABY
FIRST- YOURSELF: If I am alone and want to wash my baby, I will put IV’s vibrating chair in the bathroom with me. (It has a mobile on it, so when he was younger he loved to just stare at it. Now he likes to gleefully screech at it and grab at the hanging stuffed animals, but I will also give him a teether toy and burp rag (his favorite things to chew on). When he was younger I used his swing, which he loved, but it does not have a mobile, so it is not engaging to him now). I will shower while he sits, and if he starts getting fussy at all I will poke my head out and flash him a smile, or sing and talk to him loudly. I’m sure the upstairs and sideways neighbors love it. But if your baby starts crying: don’t stress. You need to maintain your own hygiene, and them crying for a little bit will not harm them in any way. I just keep on singing and finish showering. Then I climb out, pick up my baby, undress him (usually I’ll have most of the buttons undone, all I have to do is pull the sleeves through), take his diaper off, and jump back into the shower. If daddy is home, I will let them hang out, then call for dad to bring me my naked child. I usually turn the water off when I climb out (or wait for baby to be brought), and turn it back on when we get in so that my body is less used to hotter water. I point the shower-head to hit my back/side, or at the wall so I don’t accidentally burn/freeze Baby.
SECOND- LOWER BODY: I rinse his lower body and one arm off first. Then I retreat to the back of the shower and crouch down so that I can rest his little booty on my thigh, and his body in the crook of my arm so that he does not slip, while I pour some soap into one hand. Then, I rub his belly, crotch (make sure to pull back that skin around the glans of his penis! If you don’t see a full rim, it is not pushed back enough. [At first I thought baby penis’s must look different than grown up penis’s until we went back to the Pediatrician, and he said the skin had fused to the glans, so we had to pull and scrape the skin off of it. It was bloody and horrifying. But you can’t do much about it when you can’t touch/clean their penis while the circumcision heals.] For girls, make sure to get all the folds of the vulva. Castile soap is very gentle, so even though regular soap should not be used on the vulva, castile soap is just fine), all the little folds around his legs and butt, his toes, and up his side to the one arm and fingers and hand I rinsed off. (Make sure to get the armpit! It’s crazy how stinky baby pits can get).
I only do one arm at a time, because he loves to suck on at least one hand (sometimes two), so I’ll only hold one hostage at a time. Immediately after soaping the hand, I won’t let go of it. I will hold his legs and body in the crook of that one arm, stand up, and rinse the hand, the arm, the pit, then I will rest my foot on the edge of the bathtub, sit him down on it, rinse off his front parts, then I’ll roll him over and rinse off his butt.
THIRD- UPPER BODY: Next, I cradle him face-up again, and wet his other arm, chest, and hair. Then it’s back to the rear end of the tub, to crouch back down, pour soap into my hand, suds up his hair, then wash his neck (make sure to get around every fold under his chin! Milk loves to seep in and turn into cheese), back, armpit, and other hand and fingers. Then back up, rinse the hand, pit, and chest, then carefully rinse of his hair (cradle face up in one arm. Use other hand to create a wall on his forehead, so water will not flow into his eyes, and gently put under stream of water. When all the soap near his face is rinsed off, use hand to gently scrub soap completely off. Don’t forget the back of his ears! They get so stinky. Then I do a final rinse off of his whole body, then I will gently wipe his face off with a wet hand, frequently rinsing it. Bam! Done with the washing!
FOURTH- DRYING OFF: If dad is home, he will lovingly take IV and dry him off and dress him for me. If I am alone, I wrap baby in a towel, dry him off in my arms, then I will dry myself off (juggling baby). Then I will hang my towel, and we go to the bed (changing table) to put a diaper and clothes on him. Or put baby down, dry him off and put diaper and clothes on him, then dry yourself. Whatever works.
FIFTH- SLEEPY TIME: Usually I wash him right before bed time (which is 8PM), so he is ready to nurse, and konk out for the night (first part of it). Or, if I wash him in the morning or mid-day, I usually nurse him anyway and put him down for a nap. Baths are pretty exciting and taxing for a baby.
The “Fallback” Position: At any time if I feel like IV is being too squirmy, or if at any time you feel like you do not have a good grip on your baby, default to putting baby’s chest vertically flat, up against your chest. It helps support Baby’s body with your body, and this also gives you a different position to better rinse off the back of their head, ears, and neck.
If I do not want to shower with him – usually it’s because it’s an “emergency shower” because he barfed, or poop-sploded, or got food in his hair – then I will do all of that on a baby bath sponge at the bottom of his bathtub. I soak the sponge in warm water, lay him down on the sponge, and do steps one through five, but with the bath spout, not shower head.
Another thing I would like to add: check the water flow of your shower head. Sometimes it may be a bit strong and high pressured. To soften the blow on baby (and on your wallet) I suggest a 1.5 gal/min shower head. (normal) You can do your own research on how awesome they are.
Hope it was comprehensive enough!
Update: It is, in fact, a lot harder to hold your baby when they are big and squirmy and can crawl around, so this post is what I suggest for baby’s about 0-8 months, and here is what I suggest for baby’s 8+ months.
How do you wash your baby? Do you have any more ideas, concerns, or questions?
If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it!
***This post may contain affiliate links, but it in no way affects my reviews or recommendations, which are my full and honest opinions. It is at no extra cost to you, it is just a thank you from Amazon for sending people to them. I am not a medical professional, and these are just my opinions, based on experience***
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