Parenting How to Bathe Your Infant Properly
It is very exciting to have a new member of the famly at home especially if it a baby. Bathing an infant is important to make him feel comfortable, clean and away from infection especially with his freshly-cut umbilical cord. It is also essential to keep the infant warm and safe. Special considerations for bathing an infant include the following.
Everything must be within the reach before beginning; one hand must remain in contact with the infant at all times to prevent falls.
Holding the Infant
Any method of holding an infant must provide support for the head and neck and keep the infant close to your body to lessen the chance of injury or dropping. The football hold does all of these things. In the football hold, the infant is held with the head in the palm of the hand, the back on the forearm, and the feet between the arm and your side.
If the infant can sit on a basin with support, keep one of your arms behind the infant, holding onto the infant’s far arm. This leaves your other arm free yet keeps the infant secure. Even with an older infant who can sit unaided, you should still keep one hand on the infant at all times. Remember, a tub is slippery, and infants move very quickly. Do not immerse an infant whose umbilicus is not completely healed because an infection might result.
This is usually done each time an infant is bathed to prevent a scale accumulation called cradle cap. Hold the infant football-style, with the head over the basin so that the scalp can be gently scrubbed and thoroughly rinsed with strokes going away from the infant’s face.
Without soap, clean each eye from inner to outer canthus, using a clean area of the washcloth for each eye so that microorganisms are not transferred from one eye to the other.
Infants have many creases and folds. Wash and dry carefully in all of them. Moisture left in creases causes skin breakdown.
For the female infant, be sure to clean between the labia and in all folds from front to back. For the uncircumcised male infant, gently retract the foreskin only as far as it will go easily, and return it to its normal position after cleansing the exposed surfaces. Secretions left under the foreskin may cause irritation infection, with resulting adhesions.
When the newborn still has the cord stump in place, you must perform cord care. This includes carefully inspecting the base of the cord for signs of infection (such as redness, drainage, or odor) and cleaning it with alcohol. The area is also kept dry, and the infant is not bathed in a basin or sink until the cord detaches (in 1-4 weeks). The cord falls off in the same way a scab falls off a small wound.