Because sliced bread makes your life easier. And, swaddle baths make your baby’s first bath easier, calmer, and with better grip. Not so scary. Swaddle bathing can give you a grip, while the baby stays just as warm and calm as they do in a swaddle. So, first baths can be just as sweet and loving as you see on Instagram and TV commercials.
What is a swaddle bath?
Swaddle bathing is the act of bathing your baby while they are snuggly and swaddled. A womb like feel for them, and a less slippery feel for you. It’s the newest type of bathing, finally becoming more prevalent at ‘baby-friendly’ hospitals.
When can my baby take a swaddle bath?
Your newborn can take a swaddle bath at any time. Hospitals today don’t typically suggest that you wait for the umbilical cord to fall off prior to giving a first bath. There is no extra colonization of bacteria or infection proven to occur with early swaddle baths. But, if you prefer to keep your baby on a counter and give them a sponge bath, there is no harm in that either.
How do I give a bath?
1. Decide on your bathing area. But don’t get in, yet.
Your kitchen sink or bathroom sink
Benefit: this is a comfortable level for bathing for many. A natural position and level to give a bath. It also can feel a bit more social. But as deeper kitchen sinks have become more prevalent,it can feel too high for some parents as the basin deepens. In this case, some prefer to instead use the small bathroom sink. The downside is that basin can feel too small. Most caregivers instead use the adult tub if the kitchen sink isn’t a comfortable place.
Most infant bath tubs are designed to fit with the design of kitchen sinks. While not entirely necessary, you may like to use one. If it’s a big hunk of plastic you prefer not to own, we have a solution for that, too.
An adult tub
Benefit: an adult tub is like a bathing palette. So many options. To overcome the over-sized area, you can either use your infant tub in the adult tub, or you fold a bath towel up into a cushion and lay it on the base of the tub with just an inch of warm water in the tub.
There is also the co-bathing option, where you hold and bathe your baby in the tub. Just remember your favorite water temperature is likely warmer than the warm to the elbow or wrist temperature that your baby needs.
2. Gather supplies for before and after the bath. Put them in reach. Right where you need them.
Baby wash and/or hair wash
One to three bath size towels (depending on your set up for before and after)
Two to three washcloths
Change of clothes
Infant tub (optional)
Warm Hug™ Bath Swaddle (for use with infant tub, or instead of an infant tub)
3. Pre-fill the water to reduce the risk of faucet burns. Comfortable to your wrist or elbow is the correct temperature and falls between 99.9 and 103.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that your pre and post-bath area are ready, it’s bath time. We recommend the touch method, where you have always at least one hand on your baby.
New! Keep them gently swaddled during the bath. Note, you can bathe 24 hours after birth. The umbilical concerns are outdated.
Step 1. Undress and lay on the Warm Hug™ Bath Swaddle or their newborn receiving blanket. What is a Warm Hug Bath Swaddle? Unlike a washcloth or a newborn receiving blanket, the Warm Hug™ Bath Swaddle has small closed cells (neoprene, like scuba gear) which naturally fill with air and provide insulation to keep your baby warmer. It’s also less soggy and dries quicker than a wet blanket. If you don’t have a Warm Hug, you can use your receiving blanket in the mean time for the swaddle benefit, and perhaps pick up a Warm Hug™ after your next class at Birch Family Birth Services or online.
Alternatively, you can do a loosely swaddled sponge bath. Meaning, you stay outside of the water and use a warm cloth to clean your lightly swaddled baby on the counter. These are nice, too. In other cases, move to step two.
Step 2. Next, the newborn or infant and the swaddler are immersed together into the prepared tub. Pick up and hold your baby in the swaddler. Support the head and underarm with one hand and use your other hand to support the baby’s bottom.
Slow dip. Gently dip your swaddled baby in the water feet first, using your other hand to support the baby’s bottom. Wet babies are slippery, but the swaddler will help you get a grip.
Step 3. Enjoy.
Let them warm up to the idea. Talk to them. Sing. Know that this by nature unplugged time together is building their connection with you. Focus on the eyes, then the face. Both with washing, and with your gaze.
What is the washing procedure?
Eyes first. Use a washcloth corner or a separate cloth for each eye. Discontinue use of the cloth after you’ve washed the eyes.
Use the final cloth for the face and body.
Unswaddle each limb individually to wash, rinse and loosely reswaddle. Don’t forget, babies lose heat 4x faster than adults. And, if wet, 25x faster. So, a loose swaddle is best.
Don’t forget to wash the fold under the neck where all the dribbled milk hides. This area is a sneaky spot. There will be a build up deep in there and you can sometimes see or even smell it. Just wash it out and dry it well.
If you have a rolly one, continue to gently scrub all the arm folds, leg folds and toes. The Chubber Scrubber™ Bath Cloth has a specially designed fingertip corner for just this purpose. Regarding the torso, maneuver carefully around the umbilical cord if there’s still a stump; it’s okay to gently wipe away any crustiness around it.
Generally, the bathing goes from head to toe or cleanest to dirtiest. There is one last stop after the toes. End with the diaper area. Clean the private parts well, from front to back.
The gentle swaddle will help to alleviate the chill as you clean. Remember to talk with them. Sing. Stay engaged. She will love the sound of your voice. This is the beginning of language development. Understanding. Loving, trusting eyes. Even if things aren’t Instagram perfect every time, your baby will enter another building block in his or her mind, that you two are in fact made for one another.
Once complete, dry your hands if possible and gently reach under their arms and swoop them up, leaving the swaddle behind if you like. Set your baby down onto your smartly placed towel.
Hold them. Love them. Have that skin to skin contact and cuddle. Then, diaper them, skip the drying lotions and put coconut oil on their little dry spots. Wait a few days for their next bath.
You did it!! You not only survived your first bath, you made it look as easy as baby bath advertisements on TV, or sweet baby bath posts on Instagram! And that my friend is a feat. It may not happen the first time, but every time, your bath time will become a more and more engaging, loving, bonding experience.
If you’d like to look at any of the specially designed bath swaddles or cloths in this article you can find the following at Birch Family Birth Services. They’re designed to make you a pro at baby baths, the first time and every time. Baby stays warm, and you can get a grip and feel the love.
Because no-slip, happy babies at bath time are everything.
No slip. Wet, sudsy babies are slippery. A Warm Hug Bath Swaddle provides grip.
Babies get cold 25x faster in water: Made from neoprene to stay warmer longer
When womb-like security is replaced by splashing joy!
Perfect length to warm baby’s core AND prevents you from getting pee’d on.
Neoprene to stay warmer, longer. Enjoy more unplugged time together.
Soft flannel, and fingertip corners for her tiniest parts.
Oh, those baby creases!
Extra gentle. Unlike wash cloths, made from soft flannel.
Fingertip corners so you can access and clean the tiniest parts.
Best baby shower gift, ever. Our best seller.
Includes all of the above
These are products designed by my sister and I, and we’re excited as we begin our journey to bring these patent-pending products that help mamas and babies to market. See you at Birch Family Birth Services and congratulations on becoming a bath time pro!
All the best,
Founder, Hummingbird Infant