Like most moms of our generation where we have ample of information available for almost every parenting aspect, I too was stuck to doing a lot of reading. Along with the ample reading came in bouts of self doubt as well as times when I (against my better judgement) also questioned the elders opinions and advise (which of course on hindsight I should not have)
I had quite a tough time trying to figure out on whether to go with the traditional Indian practice of hiring a person to massage my baby or to do it myself. To read more about this fiasco as well as the proper techniques to massage a baby click here.
Along with massaging the baby, giving her a bath too seemed a very difficult task initially. The first time, at the hospital while watching the nurse giving her a bath, it seemed like quite an easy task. Little did I know that when the baby is actually in my hands and with all the soap and water, and all the wriggling, a simple bath too becomes a humongous task?
Therefore, after my first attempt, I happily surrendered to mom and handed over this task to her. But as the time to leave mommy’s home came closer, I had to prepare myself to be able to bathe her with no help around. I took over from mom and worked under her supervision for a few days and was able to manage the task and eventually started enjoying the massage and bath time with my baby.
Here are some of the tips/ learning’s that helped me
Preparation before bath
This preparation before bath step is very essential, even more important than the actual bath, especially if you are the only person around and have no help/ assistance.
- Get all the clothes that your baby will need post bath ready. Lay them on the bed in such a manner that you can dress them up with minimum movement. While i would swaddle my baby, I used to have her swaddle cloth spread on the bed in a manner that post dressing I could just put her on the cloth and tie.
- Similarly, the diaper, vest, and other clothes should be kept at less than an arms distance and in a sequence from your sitting position such that when you lay the baby on the bed or the changing table you can dress him up without moving from your position and use one hand to hold the baby.
- The towels should be ready in the bathroom such that once the bath is done, again with minimum movement you can get hold of the towel and wrap up the baby.
- In addition, keep handy the powder, oil, cream /lotion and other products that you would need while dressing them up.
With only 2 hands and a wet wriggling baby, prepare for absolutely all the things that you would need immediately after the bath so as to minimise your movement with maximum comfort to the baby.
Now comes the actual bath. There are several products available to help newborn and toddlers with their bath like bathing tubs, bathing seats, bathing cushions etc. Go for the one that you are most comfortable with.
Personally, I continued with the traditional method of laying my baby on my outstretched legs that my mom followed in the initial weeks of bathing movement her. Once she started sitting and turning I graduated to the bathing chair which I used for almost a year until the time they were comfortable with walking and all other.
Since the bath was followed with massage using oil, I used besan(chick pea flour) to first absorb the oil from the body followed by soap/ shampoo/ body wash. You might need a few trials on the products to use for your baby depending on their skin types.
Some quick tips and precautions during bath time –
- Always keep at least one hand on the baby at all times
- Make sure of appropriate water temperature and duration of bath. Babies have delicate skin so luke warm water is best for them. Most experts recommend bath waterat around 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) is a comfortable baby bath temperature.
- Duration of the bath depends on the season, summer times you could have a little bit of play time where as winters and monsoons be as quick as possible. Also in the initial 6 -8 months try to be as quick as possible so that the baby gets used to the bath routine.
- Keep the toilet seat closed and make sure the surrounding areas are dry
- Make sure there are no wires of appliances like hair drier and shavers around
This is the easiest part if the preparations before the bath are thorough.
- Once the bath is done quickly wipe the baby and wrap her in the towel. Be quick but gentle
- Since babies have a very gentle skin, baths do tend to make their skin dry. Thus apply a moisturiser (lotion, cream, oil) whatever suits their skin the best. If you want something natural, a few drops of coconut oil works wonders.
- If your baby swaddles, dress her up and swaddle so she is warm and comfortable.
- Most babies finish their massage and bath routine with a feed and a nap.
Once I figured how to go about the massage and bath routine, I used to look forward to this every day. It gave me lots of happy bonding time with my babies. Also this one on one time of babies with parents helps the babies learn a lot of new things – touch, sensations. At the same time it helps the parents understand their baby better – their expressions, their gestures and what they are trying to communicate.
Lots of laughter….
Lots of giggles…..
Little bit of tickle…..
Lots of fun!!
Follow these simple tips, am sure like me, you too will enjoy the massage, and bath time!
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