In those first weeks home, sponge bathing with a damp washcloth and baby soap is advised until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel (and circumcision) heals. When your baby is ready for “real” baths (this could be anywhere from one to three weeks, depending on the baby), choose an infant tub with contoured sides, which will help keep the baby from sliding around. Fill the tub with no more than 3 inches of warm—never hot!—water; then place a clean washcloth, unscented baby soap/shampoo, towels, a diaper and clothes next to the bathtub. “Before you put your baby in the water, make sure you have everything you need within reach,” stresses Khan. “Never leave your baby by himself for anything!”
When bathing, always remember to cup your hands over baby’s forehead to keep suds away from his eyes when rinsing out shampoo (you can use a plastic cup for this). Don’t bathe for too long. Then immediately wrap him in a dry towel to prevent a chill. “Bathing does take some practice,” Khan says. “The more adult hands, the better when you’re learning.”
Infants need only two to three baths a week during their first year; more than that may dry out their velvety-soft skin. According to Khan, there is new research that says daily baths are okay—but you should apply moisturizer very liberally and not apply soap to baby’s entire body.
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