new­born BATHTIME

Your Pregnancy - - The Dossier Baby Skincare - YP

“What could be sim­pler than a bath?” asked every per­son who’s never had to bath a new­born. Be­cause know­ing when and how of­ten to bath her, learn­ing to keep that del­i­cate lit­tle neck sup­ported, in slip­pery wa­ter, while try­ing to sponge her gen­tly, and stay­ing calm and con­fi­dent… it can all feel a bit like try­ing to wres­tle an oc­to­pus. We asked the ex­perts for some dos and don’ts, and a step-by-step guide to help you through the first baths LET NA­TURE DO ITS THING

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion rec­om­mends not bathing a new­born for at least 24 hours af­ter birth. This is to al­low time for the body to ab­sorb vernix – the ben­e­fi­cial an­tibac­te­rial sub­stance full of pro­teins and amino acids left over from the womb.

LESS IS MORE

New­born skin is in­cred­i­bly del­i­cate – too many baths can dry out the skin and leave it sus­cep­ti­ble to rashes and in­fec­tions. Reg­is­tered nurse, lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant and mid­wife Het­tie Grove says a bath every two to three days is more than enough (and per­haps too much if you’re in drought-stricken Cape Town!)

TOP AND TAIL

When it does come time for baby’s first bath, the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics rec­om­mends us­ing a sponge un­til the um­bil­i­cal cord stump falls off and the naval heals, which usu­ally takes a few weeks. This type of bath – also called “top and tail­ing” – is also suit­able for newly cir­cum­cised ba­bies.

PICK YOUR TIME

Any time is good for bath time, pro­vided you’re re­laxed and un­likely to be in­ter­rupted. A baby is more likely to be alert dur­ing a morn­ing bath, while night­time baths can be a sooth­ing bed­time rit­ual. Test the waters and see what time baby likes best.

SET IT ALL UP

It’s help­ful to get ev­ery­thing ready in ad­vance, while baby is safe and oc­cu­pied. For a sponge bath, find a warm room with a flat sur­face. A bath­room or kitchen counter, firm bed or chang­ing ta­ble can work well. Lay out a soft towel, blan­ket or chang­ing pad for baby to rest on. Next, put out a wash cloth, towel, mild baby mois­tur­is­ing soap, mild baby sham­poo (if you’ll be wash­ing hair), cot­ton pads, a clean nappy and a change of clothes. Then fill a sink or shal­low basin with a lit­tle warm wa­ter, check­ing the tem­per­a­ture with the inside of your wrist or el­bow to en­sure it’s not too hot. Since a new­born’s skin is so thin, she will feel the heat more acutely than you do. The ideal wa­ter tem­per­a­ture is 36°C for new­borns and be­tween 37°C and 38°C (body tem­per­a­ture) for ba­bies. Use a bath ther­mome­ter to check tem­per­a­ture if you’re un­sure.

THE RIGHT H O

Use clean wa­ter when bathing your new­born, as chem­i­cally treated or dirty wa­ter can cause se­ri­ous rashes or bac­te­rial in­fec­tions, warns Cape Town­based pae­di­atric der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Carol Hlela. It’s not ad­vis­able to wash your new­born in untested ground­wa­ter (such as bore­hole or well-point wa­ter) as this can con­tain high lev­els of cop­per, zinc and other min­er­als that may be toxic in high lev­els. Ground­wa­ter may also be con­tam­i­nated by E.coli or other harm­ful bac­te­ria, which can cause ill­nesses.

READ THE LA­BELS

Dr Hlela says its cru­cial to read the la­bels and know what to use and what not to – stick with prod­ucts made specif­i­cally for ba­bies. “Never use adult prod­ucts on your baby,” she says. “An­ti­sep­tic soaps and scented soaps also have the po­ten­tial to dam­age baby skin that is still de­vel­op­ing and not yet fully func­tional.” Stay away from fra­grances, parabens, dyes and prod­ucts with a harsh de­ter­gent called sodium lau­ryl sul­fate, she adds.

BOND AWAY

Bath time is prime tech­nol­ogy-free bond­ing time, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 study by child psy­chol­o­gist Dr Ang­harad Rud­kin, who found that the 20 min­utes spent bathing ba­bies is ben­e­fi­cial to brain de­vel­op­ment and parental bond­ing. So re­lax, and en­joy this pre­cious time. Ac­cord­ing to El­go­nda Bekker, pres­i­dent of the So­ci­ety of Mid­wives of South Africa, a con­sor­tium of health­care pro­fes­sion­als is cur­rently work­ing to draft ev­i­dence-based in­fant skin­care and bathing guide­lines for South Africa. The find­ings will be pub­lished later in 2018, she says, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Neona­tal Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa, the Nurse Ed­u­ca­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, and pae­di­atric der­ma­tol­o­gists.

Baby Dove Rich Mois­ture Bar 75g R12.99; Baby Dove Rich Mois­ture Sham­poo 400ml R69.99; Baby Dove Rich Mois­ture Head to Toe Wash 400ml R64.99; Baby Dove Sen­si­tive Head to Toe Wash 400ml R64.99

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