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Sigh! What could be better than a brand new, squishy baby? I’ll tell you. It’s a brand new, slippery and squishy baby that smells like sweet orange and vanilla. Freshly bathed babies are a delight. But when you’re a new mama, you need to take care of yourself, too. You might be surprised how delightful it can be to kill two birds with one stone and bathe together. Here are 7 reasons why you should bathe with your newborn.
Bathe with your newborn for bonding time.
You’ve probably done enough research to know that skin-to-skin is an important part of bonding with a newborn. Here’s a longer article all about why skin to skin is beneficial. The most exciting reasons to get skin-to-skin include improved digestion for baby, better temperature regulation, and less crying. Being in a bathtub with your sweet, new love bug is the ultimate form of skin-to-skin.
The first little bit after having a baby is disorienting to me. I typically have this moment where I’m surprised to meet him or her. Often, the baby isn’t what I imagined. To be clear, I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s more that there’s this perfect little friend that has been cooking INSIDE me, and now he or she is OUTSIDE, and everything is difficult and different. Taking a short time to relax with the baby several times a week helps those of us who aren’t great relaxers. And it helps me to get to know my new baby beyond his or her kick patterns. It might help you, too.
All three of my babies have been exceptionally alert and happy when in the tub with me. I get to see a different side to them. Most of the time, newborns are either cuddly and sleepy, or apart and hollering. This is a different experience!
Your lady bits might need to soak :/
Well, I don’t know what happened to you down there, but I know a thing or two about rough deliveries. It gives new meaning to the expression “tore up from the floor up,” amiright? With my first baby, I ended up with a third degree tear that took FOREVER to heal. I am a fairly tough cookie, but I wouldn’t wish a major tear on my worst enemy.
It’s true that you can just bathe alone to meet your postpartum needs. But when you’re tuckered out, emotionally zapped, and overwhelmed, why not get some extra cuddles?
Newborns are slippery, and bathtubs are scary.
It’s true that you’re gonna need an infant bathtub. These two are super popular, and I’ve had both.
Toddlers need a slightly bigger tub than the Angelcare, and once they can sit up, the First Years one is pretty great. Nothing fancy, just solid design.
The Angelcare feels less dicey in terms of newborns sliding down into the water. I mean, obviously, you won’t leave their side. Still, my first two babies just scooched on down in the First Years hammock repeatedly. It stressed me out. The Angelcare is a bit better about keeping them from wiggling down.
But ya know what? Neither option feels as secure to me as in my arms or on my chest. When you’re down in there with them, it just feels safer.
Bathe with your newborn to put them to sleep.
It happened with all three of my babies. I’d put them in the bath with me, about a half hour before I intended to put them to sleep. They’d be making all the eye contact and would be wide awake. As I tested it out with each baby, I’d always worry that I was dooming myself to several hours of restlessness and newborn insomnia.
But no! In every case, we’d have the most glorious time together, cuddling, playing, and sometimes nursing if the baby wanted a top-off. Then the cooler air would hit their bodies before wrapping them up in a towel and they’d scream their heads off while I dressed them in their clean diaper and jammies. Ultimately, I’d lay them in bed, and they would all fuss for two or three minutes as I resisted the urge to intervene. And then…silence. They conk out! It’s like a magic trick!
It helps with milk supply.
This one is pretty intuitive for those of us who were preached the importance of skin-to-skin in the hospital with our babies.
Since bathtub time with mama is skin-to-skin, you can pretty much bet on your milk supply getting a little boost. If you do it regularly, stuff like this works better than all the cookies, dark beer, herbs, and weird teas. And I’d do just about anything to avoid those concoctions. I don’t understand the biology or physiology behind why skin-to-skin makes such a difference for milk supply, but I tend to trust sources like Kellymom and La Leche League. They insist that skin-to-skin is most helpful for boosting milk production. Ergo, bathing with your newborn is good.
Leaning over the side of the tub sucks.
Leaning over the side of the tub to bathe a slippery newborn is about as fun as a root canal, if you ask me. Maybe that’s just because my last pregnancy was considered “geriatric” (insert eye roll), but it’s awkward and uncomfortable for folks like myself with healthy backs. Mix in inflammation or chronic pain of any kind, and it’s downright awful for some ladies. I do find that the kneeler thing helps with that. So when you get ready to buy one, we like this one.
Still, when the babies are tiny, there’s no need to put yourself through that every time. It’s way more comfortable to just get in there together.
Maybe you’re cooler than me, but I’m the type of mama that has a hard time focusing on just one thing. At some point in my history, I idealized multi-tasking and became a bit addicted to Googling ALL THE THINGS.
When you bathe with your newborn, you need both hands on that little cuddlebug, so there’s no phone in the tub with you. You’re not doing laundry at the same time. You’re not trying to take care of anyone or anything but the two of you. She won’t be teeny-tiny forever. She deserves every bit of my attention, any time I can carve out an extra moment just for her.
How to Bathe with Your Newborn
It takes some preparation and looks worse on paper, but once you’re into the habit, it’s awesome. Here’s how I do it.
- I lay out my pajamas and the baby’s pajamas and diaper in the bathroom. You should make sure that baby’s wash and shampoo and cradle cap comb are still in the bathtub where I like to keep them. PS, I was totally grossed out by Chicken Nugget’s cradle cap, but this comb did the trick after just one night of massaging with coconut oil!
- I put a Boppee lounger or Leachco lounger right next to the tub, within reach from the water. Next, I spread a clean towel on top.
- I strip down the baby on top of the towel, and then quickly undress myself.
- Holding the baby to my chest (still dry, obviously), I lower us into the tub. Here’s a caveat: I was in BAD shape after the birth of my first and second for about two weeks. My muscles felt weak. During that time, I would have my husband within hollering range, and he would come lower the baby into the water for me, so I didn’t have to carefully balance. If you feel at all unsure about your ability to balance the two of you as you descend into the water, don’t attempt it without help.
- We bathe, play, sometimes nurse, etc.
- I lift the slippery baby over the side of the tub and lay the baby directly on top of the lounger. Then I cover the baby with the sides of the towel. If you’re not feeling strong enough or safe enough, holler out for help if you’ve got a partner available.
- I climb out, dry off, and dress myself.
- I dress the baby.
Now, there’s only one way this can go sideways on you. It’s possible the naked baby will poop or pee into that clean towel while he or she is naked. Depending on how long it takes you to dress and undress, you’re looking at about 90 seconds(ish) total. Best of luck, friend.
Do you have any tricks for bathing newborns? Have you ever tried bathing together? If so, what was your experience?