Bathing and nappy changing

Posted by iChild, December 05, 2018 5:50 PM

By Midwife & Life

It might seem a straightforward thing to do, changing a nappy and bathing your baby, but now we live in our own little units, it’s quite possible to be expecting a baby, give birth and have no idea or experience in changing a nappy or giving your baby a bath. In the past on Maternity units they would teach all new Mums and Dads the basics before they went home but with a high turnover, pressure on beds and women wanting to go home as soon as possible, this often doesn’t happen. So here’s a few pointers for you if you’re expecting a baby and feeling a bit lost.

Nappy Changing

My top tip is to get a doll or large teddy to practice on, and really do it! You’re going to be getting nappies anyway, so you can use a couple to practice with. Also, if you do have any Mum friends, ask them if you can practice on their baby – they will love it if you spend some time with them changing nappies, and you can then return the favour when you have your baby with another new mum to be.

Make it a competition with your partner – have two dolls or teddies, set a timer and see who can do it the fastest. For added pressure, do it blindfolded! Once baby starts kicking, rolling it gets even harder so the better you are at it now the better. So here are the basics:

- Get everything you need ready before you start – nappies, wipes or top and tail bowl, nappy sack or nappy bin, changing mat
- Place baby on the changing mat, take the old nappy off. If it is soiled, use the nappy to take the bulk of the mess off.
- Clean baby girls front to back
- Once clean, place the nappy underneath with the tapes at the back
- Bring the nappy up around the front and secure the tapes
- It should be tight enough to stay in place but still admit a finger width around the tummy
- Make sure it’s secure around the legs
- If the umbilical cord is still on, fold the front of the nappy down so it can air

Some babies (read most) don’t like the cold, so warm up the mat or place a warm muslin underneath (be prepared for it to get wee’d or poo’d on). Why not make iChild's Nappy Time fun , which has tips and a mobile for them to look and play with?

Bathing Your Baby

In the past as soon as you gave birth, the baby was whipped off you for checks and a bath straight away. Nowadays, with a lot of hospitals aiming for baby friendly status and more research, these practices are now outdated. It's better to give mother and baby uninterrupted skin to skin for as long as possible to promote bonding, breastfeeding, and encourage the baby's natural breathing, heart rate and temperature control. It's also not necessary to bath babies straight away, or even in the first few days. In fact, it's better to wait at least 8 days before bathing them.  You may have heard the term 'Wait for Eight.' Until then, a simple top and tail will suffice. You can use a top and tail bowl, from the iChild Shop, or just two clean bowls will do.

How to Top and Tail:

- Get two bowls of warm water (body temperature is fine) 1 for face, 1 for bottom
- Use some cotton wool or a soft flannel
- Use two separate pieces of cotton wool for each eye, wipe from the inside out
- Wipe the rest of the face as needed
- Either clean the bottom during nappy changes or separately
- Wash baby's face and eyes once a day
- If your baby has sticky eyes, you can clean them more regularly, using cooled boiled water

Once you do bathe your baby, it's best to use plain water to start. Many babies get dry flaky skin in their first weeks of life, this is a natural process and usually doesn't need any intervention like oil. Their skin is actually quite moist underneath, and it's just the vernix shedding away (the white coating of the skin in the womb). They do not need any baby lotions, talc or moisturizers. If their skin is dry and cracked to the point of causing skin damage, or you're concerned, then consult your Midwife or Doctor. If you can, use only water for the first four weeks of life, longer for premature babies. It is after the first month that your baby's skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier. You can then use simple soaps, and if your baby still has dry skin or for baby massage you can use oils like Grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil or coconut oil, checking for sensitivities first.

How to Bath your newborn baby

Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot. You can use a baby bath, the sink, or just lay them in the big bath.

  • Undress baby and place them in a towel, wrap them up leaving the head exposedDoll1- Wash their hair, using a flannel or cotton wool
    - Dry the hair
    - Remove the towel and keep it on a radiator if possible
    - Support baby's head by putting your arm underneath and holding their opposite upper arm
  • Doll2

    - With the other hand, wash baby in the water and let them enjoy the feel of being afloat
    - Keep it short, they lose heat so quickly
    - Dry baby and get the nappy on quick - the drop in temperature means you're more likely to get pee'd on!

Don't worry if you do it slightly differently, as long as baby is safe, and you never leave a baby unattended in the bath. There are different types of bath you can get, like a tummy tub, which is a clear bucket and is said to make the baby feel more like they're in the womb, or you can get bath supports. Once they've got more head control, around 8 weeks, I found it easier to lay my babies in the bath direct in shallow water and they could have a splash around and a bit of freedom, but it’s totally up to you. Again, practice with a friend’s child or a doll. You won’t regret it, although you might feel silly bathing a doll! Once they’re older you can play games like iChild's Bath time Maths!

By Midwife & Life

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