How to Wash an Infant

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Wash an infant from cleanest to dirtiest by gently scrubbing the baby's head, moving down to the feet and cleaning the diaper area last. Be sure to have a good hold on the baby during a bath with instructions from a certified nurse midwife and professor of nursing in this free video on childcare.

Part of the Video Series: Pregnancy & Childcare
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Video Transcript

One of the most important and first tasks that a new parent has is to learn how to bath their baby. It can be challenging but if you practice ahead of time you'll be really good at it when the time comes to do it with your own new baby. Until the baby's umbilical cord stump has dried and fallen off it is important that you don't immerse the baby in the bath water but that you give it a bath on the towel. There is a few key points about bathing baby I want to make and that will make it all the easier or you. When you're bathing baby it is important to keep them completely covered except the part that you are working on so that he stays warm. Babies lose heat much more readily than we do through evaporation and so we want to keep baby very warm. You are going to start with just clean water over the baby's face, no soap, even gentle baby soap is not good to use on the baby's face and you're going to dry each part of the baby as you finish washing it. First I'm going to wash the baby's hair. I'm going to put my fingers over the baby's ears and so not much water will go in the ear canal and now I can put a little bit of mild soap on my wash cloth and gently scrub over the baby's head. Don't be afraid to mildly scrub over the baby's head. People are afraid that because of the soft spot here that they can't scrub with even gentle movement but you can and if you don't give it a good little scrub your baby may develop a cradle cap which is basically a build up of dead skin cells and oil on the scalp and then you're going to dry the scalp again drying each part as you go. Another rule of thumb as you bath your baby is to work from the cleanest to the dirtiest part so the last part that we're going to wash on the baby is the diaper area so as you move from baby's head down to his feet and then the last part being the diaper area if the baby has been circumcised you want to change your water and just use clean clear water on the baby's circumcision site for washing it. If it is a little girl you want to wash from front to back and don't be surprised if you see a little bit of blood or mucous there that you need to wash off. That would be normally found in a little baby girl. Here's another point I want to make about Q-Tips. Don't put anything into your baby's ear canal that is smaller than your baby's elbow and that would include Q-Tips. All that you do is impact the wax that's in there deeper down into the ear canal and that's not good for baby. So don't put these in baby's ear. They're not good for adult ears either. The last point is when your baby's cord stump has dried off and fallen off and he is ready to take a tub bath the main thing is making sure that you have a good grip on baby before you put them in the sink or the baby tub or wherever you happen to be bathing them so a good hold on the baby would be to reach around and grab the opposite thigh. Now I have baby keenly in my reach and he or she is not going anywhere while I bath them. This is the most important thing and also never leave a baby or toddler in the tub alone even for a moment to grab something. Babies can drown in just an inch or two of water.

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