massage bath & calm a baby

Bathing a newborn & newborn massage to help calm a Baby

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the thought of bathing a newborn baby gave me goosebumps. It was scary & I wanted to learn them all before my baby arrived. Though my prenatal classes covered these topics & I had my mom helping me out during the initial days, I was always worried to give her a bath or massage. But soon with a couple of sessions, it all seemed doable and my girl really enjoyed bathing & the massage sessions. She still does 😊.

Please NOTE: I am not a doctor or any healthcare professional. And this is not a piece of medical advice. I highly suggest you speak to your healthcare provider and do your own research before using any of the below recommendations. I personally did extensive research and made educated choices that may not be right for everyone.

bathing a newborn

Bathing a Newborn

There are different ways to make bath time enjoyable and for most newborns, it actually is playtime as they do not get very dirty. For that reason, even the doctors suggest avoiding a daily bath & recommend bathing two or three times a week.

1. Keep everything ready to bathe a baby

  • Be it a sponge bath or a bath in the bathtub, make sure to keep all the essentials handy. Do not ever leave the baby unattended even for a second.
  • Hooded Towel, washcloths, baby clothes, a blanket to keep baby warm, baby wash, cotton balls, diapers & baby lotion are the few bathing essentials that are part of the baby bathing kit. Read more on bath essentials in Baby Essentials checklist.
  • Some babies do not like to be bare as it gets too cold for them. Plan to keep them swaddled before and immediately after the bath. My girl hated it when we took her out of the water, I always had a couple of blankets ready to swaddle her immediately after the bath.
  • Keep the bathtub ready with warm water half-filled in it. Check the water temperature using a thermometer. Buy a bathtub that fits in your kitchen sink. It is easy to bathe the newborn there because it is of the right height.
  • Tie a towel around your neck to keep yourself dry and in case the baby needs to be held & cuddled.

2. Washing Baby’s head

While washing the baby’s head, keep the baby swaddled and hold them in clutch hold position and using the washcloth, squeeze some warm water & wash using baby wash. Make sure to be quick as they can get cold. Once done, pat the baby’s head dry using a towel and slowly place the baby on the bathtub sling to wash the rest of the body. I always used the cotton ball to clean the face during the initial few weeks until we were comfortable washing the face with a washcloth.

3. Making bath time fun & a calm routine

Bath time can be made really fun by singing some songs while bathing the baby, making eye contact and some gentle massages. Some babies do enjoy bath time. If your baby doesn’t like bath time, here are a few things you can try (From experienced mama):

  • Take your baby into the bathtub with you and let them enjoy the warm skin-to-skin while you clean them.
  • Some babies might like to breastfeed while in water with you. Try to calm them by putting them at breast first. And some like to nurse immediately after the bath – calm them with a feed and then you can put on baby clothes.

Read more about bathing techniques with illustrations here.

Newborn Massage - To help calm a baby

Newborn Massage – To help calm a baby

Do not underestimate the power of massage. I was too scared to massage my girl until I joined an Infant massage class. A nice rub down helps the baby to calm down, reduce irritability, colic and helps them sleep longer. Gentle strokes not only help the baby relax, but it also helps you and your baby bond. Below are some things I learned from my infant massage therapist:

  1. Pick a good time for a massage every day. When the baby is fully awake and is not hungry or irritable. You can also make it a routine during bedtime – this helps in the long run when you struggle with sleep regressions.
  2. You can choose to use an oil or cream to massage or just some gentle strokes with or without undressing the baby.
  3. Always remember to communicate by gently rubbing your hands and placing them on the body part before your massage. And always follow your baby’s cues. Read more about Baby massage basics here.
  4. Make it interactive and enjoyable by talking to the baby, making eye contact, singing a song, etc.
  5. Always start the massage from foot and all the way up to head. Babies enjoy gentle rub on the foot and circular motions around the ankle area. Flex baby’s legs and knees and softly push their thighs against the body. This really helps in relieving any wind.
  6. Spend some time on the baby’s tummy area. using clockwise motions and rub as to say ILU to ease any gas or colic behaviour.
  7. When the baby is teething, it helps to massage the teeth area with your fingers or using a cloth to ease teething pain.
  8. If the baby is in a mood, you can as well do some tummy time and give a gentle rub on the back and shoulders. Make sure to always follow single direction movements and small circular motions.

All I learned was you do not have to be an expert or follow any particular technique to massage your baby. You need to make it enjoyable & relaxing for both you and the baby and just follow the baby’s cue – be ready to stop when you get a sign.

Hope this was helpful. Do leave a comment below and feel free to share if you like it! Thank you😊

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  1. Pingback: Preparing home for Baby? - Here are 13 useful things to remember | SCHNOOGLE

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