They say young children take to water like fish to the sea but when it’s bath time, it’s quite a different matter! Often, it can be hard to persuade children to think of bath time as fun, coupled with the fact that you are bombarded from all directions on how and when to bathe your baby, so much so that you do not know what to believe. We at Parent Circle bring you well-researched information, busting some popular misconceptions and clarifying all your baby-bath-related doubts!
Frequency – how often to bathe?
This depends on how active your child is and on his age. Newborns need to bathe twice or thrice a week, while a gentle sponge bath can be given daily. To bathe babies, one can use a thermostat set to around 100 F. Or, touch the water with your elbow – it should feel mildly warm. Change diapers often, as bacteria and yeasts may cause infection. It’s always recommended to give the baby a light wash after a very soiled diaper. School-going toddlers get dirty by playing in sand, mud or after sports activities, and hence need to bathe daily.
Selecting the right bath products
With a plethora of choices available, it is best to do your homework beforehand. Determine your child’s skin type. You can do this by pressing a piece of tissue paper on your baby’s skin, soon after they wake up. If the tissue is dull and shiny, your child has oily skin. Otherwise they have normal to dry skin. Whatever the case may, for young babies, you should choose mild soaps with very little fragrance and very little chemicals. Soaps with Ph 5.5 help protect the babies’ acid mantle and do not damage skin, so make sure you select the right soap and shampoo for your adorable child.
Reluctant bather? Make it fun time!
So your kid shrieks like a teapot whenever you lift a jug of water! How to coax a revolting child for a bath? Try to make bathing a fun activity by telling him stories or letting him play with his favourite toys in the bath. A mobile bath tub is a great investment. It can be dragged indoors and outdoors at will. Take your child shopping and buy them rubber toys like a fun dolphin or a cheerful duck, which can become your child’s new bath time playmates. Board books and water-proof books are also innovative ideas as they will keep your child’s focus on them, rather than on the prospect of having a bath!
Bath tub rules
You are convinced that a bath tub that’s specifically designed and marketed for babies and toddlers is the way to go. This is great as this means your child will now associate bath time with fun and frolic. Make sure the tub has a textured bottom to prevent the child from slipping. Do not place tubs near edges. Kids should never be allowed to be alone in their bath tub – they should always be supervised. Only adults should have the responsibility of filling the bath tub with the water at the right temperature.
10 best tips to the right bathing routine
1. Use lukewarm water – Neither too cold nor too hot!
2. Let your child bathe for not more than 5 minutes.
3. Pat dry the body and head after washing. Dry the folds of the skin properly. Always use fresh towels.
4. Using too much soap will dry out the skin and cause allergies. Use mild soaps or specially formulated baby shower gels.
5. Using talcum powder after bath is not really necessary.
6. Always dry the hair after a head shower. Use a hair dryer on medium hot setting for babies.
7. Moisturise your baby’s skin after each bath. Organic coconut oil is a wonderful, chemical-free moisturiser.
8. Do not put ear buds or cloth in your child’s ear canal, nostrils or other orifices! If you see evidence of non-organic dirt or infection, it’s best to seek attention from a medical professional.
9. Keep your child’s bath products in a clear, airy drawer and make sure they are washed regularly.
10. Your child’s private parts must be washed gently and you should educate your child to do this by themselves once they become older.
The author is a dermatologist in Bangalore with 22 years' experience in medical and aesthetic dermatology.