Written by Molli Carlson. Reviewed by Tenley Haraldson.
Parenting throws a lot of curveballs: Disrupted sleep, spit-up surprises, decoding crying fits, and even baby bath time.
New moms and dads dream about a giggling, cooing baby in a bubble-filled bath. In reality, it can be a stressful, tearful ordeal (and not just for your little one). That’s why we’ve compiled a list of important questions that we wished we’d asked before our babies’ first baths.
1. How Often Should I Bathe My Baby?
There probably isn’t a great need to wash your newborn: Healthy babies are born with a special coating called vernix caseosa, a waxy substance that helps regulate their temperature while keeping their skin moisturized.
Until their umbilical cords fall off (usually around 1-2 weeks), infants only need to be washed with a sponge or cloth. Using warm water and a damp, soft washcloth, carefully clean between any folds of skin, under the neck, and behind the ears.
After their navel (and – if applicable – circumcised area) has healed, you can start bathing baby once or twice a week. Once babies start crawling, exploring, and eating (and flinging) solids, they get dirty – fast. By this point, many parents find they need to introduce daily bathtime. In between full baths, keep their face, hands, neck, and bottom clean with a warm, wet washcloth on a daily basis.
2. What Kind of Bathtub Should I Use?
To prevent slipping and sliding, we recommend using a contoured baby bathtub or one with an internal sling. These tend to work well until your child is about six months old. When they start rolling and crawling, your regular bathtub (with extremely low water height) should be fine.
Though it probably goes without saying, always supervise your babies and small children during bathtime.
3. What’s the Best Way to Introduce My Baby to Bath Time?
Some babies may find bathtime to be relaxing or even energizing. Others can't stand the bath, while some hate being washed by anyone other than mom or dad.
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Whatever the case, it’s common for babies to be shocked when they're first submerged in the water. Calm them by using a soothing voice. Always choose a time when your baby is relaxed and happy, not when they’re too tired or immediately after a meal (since they could spit up).
Another surefire way to help babies – especially older ones – enjoy bath time is by making it a bonding experience. Whether you sing lullabies, read plastic bath books out loud, or make silly hairstyles with bubble bath, make this a fun and special time for both of you. This tech-free time allows for fewer distractions between you and your little one, and skin-to-skin contact is crucial for developing your baby’s senses.
Tips for Showering with Your Baby
Though less common, some new parents find that showering with their baby provides better results. As a father of five children, one of our co-founders, Paul Tracy, has plenty of experience.
“There are a few tricks to ensure that showering with your baby isn’t traumatizing (for both parents and infants): For starters, I strongly recommend holding your baby and getting into the shower with them to keep them calm. The ideal scenario is to have one parent hold while the other parent bathes, although if you have multiple kids, that isn’t always an option. Secondly, falling water is terrifying for babies, so I’d only attempt to shower a baby with a handheld shower device you can gently use. Don’t try doing it with a 7-foot-high showerhead.”
He continues, “Gradually introduce them to the water and make sure the stream doesn't directly hit their head or face. Keep a dry towel handy to wipe their eyes and use soothing conversation.”
4. What Is the Ideal Bath Temp for Infants?
Whether it's a bath or shower, water temperature is crucial. Investing in a bath thermometer is a possibility, but you can also use your elbow or wrist to determine if the water is warm (around 100°F). Do not use hot water, as it isn’t ideal for your baby’s skin (or yours, for that matter). Be sure to swirl the water around with your hand to disperse any hot spots.
After bathtime, gently pat your baby’s skin dry and place them in enough towels (or a hooded towel for head-to-toe warmth), and immediately follow up with an organic baby lotion to lock in moisture.
Be Sure to Keep the Bathroom Warm
The room should also be warm (around 75°F) and draft-free, since babies chill easily. During winter months, consider using a space heater – at a safe distance, of course! Placing a warm, wet towel on your baby's belly can also prevent them from getting too cold.
5. What Bath Product Ingredients Should I Avoid?
You want to make sure your infant is squeaky clean, but tons of baby bath products include ingredients you don’t want to use on your little one’s ultra-sensitive skin.
According to the National Eczema Association, many products contain harsh chemicals that can cause redness, burning, itching, and even hives. The most common of these chemicals include:
Lab-created fragrances are meant to simulate natural ones, but they could contain hundreds of separate chemicals mixed together. Worryingly, manufacturers aren’t required to list all of the ingredients if the fragrance is considered to be a “trade secret.” That’s why we always recommend buying baby bath products that use natural fragrances, like Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo and Puracy Organic Baby Lotion.
Often used in personal care products as a preservative, formaldehyde is a common allergen among children and adults. This substance can be known by many names, so it’s always important to do your research.
Chemicals like methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone are added to many personal care products to prevent bacteria growth and give them longer shelf lives. There are, however, increased reports of sensitivity to isothiazolinones.
Used as a surfactant, “coco betaine” helps water mix better with dirt so it rinses away more easily. Though it’s considered a safe ingredient for many people, low-quality cocamidopropyl betaine is often a skin irritant.
6. Should I Use Bubble Bath?
While bubbles help clean and add a little fun to bathtime, newborns and infants simply don’t need these products. Not only are you doing all of the work, but they’re also not old enough to be entertained by them.
If you do decide to use a bubble bath, reach for one that’s safe for extra-sensitive skin and doesn’t contain any of the ingredients listed above. Puracy Natural Baby Bubble Bath is a gentle, coconut-based cleanser developed by doctors. It doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients and is fully biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and never tested on animals. With a natural, calming scent of fresh lavender blossoms and vanilla beans, this natural bubble bath is sure to make bath time an enjoyable event.
7. How Do I Find Effective, Safe Baby Bath Products?
Gentle, organic, and natural baby essentials aren’t difficult to find or expensive. At Puracy, we pride ourselves on formulations that are free from harsh chemicals and sulfates. Instead, we use coconut-based cleansers, nourishing vegetable-based moisturizers, and essential oils for fragrance.
Make Baby Bath Time Enjoyable with Puracy Products
Puracy’s founders have a total of six kids between the two of them (and in just a few short weeks, that number will be seven), and many of our staff members in Austin, Texas are young parents, too. That's one of the many reasons we take such a personalized approach to formulating the best natural baby products. While parenting throws a lot of curveballs, gentle products – and these helpful tips – will help make sure that bath time isn’t one of them.