Bathing baby – Benefits and Precautions

        Every parent naturally desires that his/her baby should be healthy, chubby and intelligent. To enjoy good fruits one has to plan and work hard. For planning, both the parents must have sound knowledge about the normal baby and infant care in general. This article explains the need of bathing baby every day, precautions to be taken and soap to be used while bathing baby, and benefits of giving oil massage to the baby.

1. Why is it necessary to bathe the baby every day ?

Bathing baby

        In tropical countries like India, the baby should be given a bath every day with warm water. The water used should not be too hot as it may harm the baby’s delicate skin. In chilly winter or in countries with cold weather, it is not necessary to give a bath every day.

        Right after birth, coconut oil or til (Sesame) oil is applied gently and the baby bathed in warm water. The mother should shut the door and windows to prevent draught. Bathing baby should preferably be done in the afternoon. The Indian style of giving a bath is ideal. The mother sits on the ground with legs extended and touching each other. The baby is kept on the legs with its face towards the ground so that the face and tummy of the baby are touching the mother’s legs and the nose lies in between the legs. Bathing baby can also be done in a plastic tub.

A. The advantages of Indian style of bathing baby :

  • The position of the baby avoids entry of water into the nose and mouth.

  • Even if the baby becomes slippery after the application of soap, there is no question of fall as the baby is practically touching the ground between the legs of the mother. Both the hands of the mother are free to clean and wipe the baby.

2. What precautions should be taken while bathing baby ?

A. Points to be kept in mind while bathing the baby :

  • The baby soap containing high content of fat and less caustic soda should be used as it does not irritate the baby’s delicate skin.

  • The baby should be wiped with a soft clean towel. It is important to see that spaces behind ears, neck, armpits, groins and buttocks are washed well.

  • Talcum powder should be sprinkled in the armpits, groins, buttocks and neck. The talcum powder particles should not enter the nose and eyes of the baby.

  • The baby’s nails become soft after a bath. They should be trimmed once in a week as the nails are likely to harm the eyes or the delicate skin of the baby.

  • After putting on the clothes the windows can be opened.

        To avoid exposure to the cold atmosphere for a prolonged time, the baby should be washed with large cotton swabs dipped in warm water.

        In winter, the baby should be exposed to sunlight for a few minutes in the morning and evening. Though a bath is not needed when the baby passes stools, the buttock and the napkin area should be cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in warm water.

3. Should the baby be given an oil massage ?

        In general, an oil massage is beneficial for every baby. The application of or light massage with oil such as til, olive or coconut oil, tones up the skin and muscles of the baby and improves the complexion. Oil is absorbed from the delicate skin of the newborn or premature baby and acts like a supplementary feed. These babies take less feeds as they get nourishment through the absorbed oil. A layer of insulating material helps to maintain body temperature.

        Oil massage should not be done by the traditional lady who gives massage to the mother as well as to the baby and washes the soiled clothes of the baby. Her hands are unclean and rough. For the delicate skin of the baby her hands would be as rough as sand-paper and the massage a bit vigorous.

        An oil massage should be avoided in humid climate. If the baby is allergic to particular oil, the oil should be changed.

4. What soap should be used for young infants ?

        Soap is prepared by mixing oil or fat with caustic soda or caustic potash. The percentage of caustic soda or caustic potash is highest in the washing soap. It is less in the soap usually used by adults while taking a bath and is minimum in baby soap.

        Compared with the usual soap, the baby soap contains more oil or fat and less caustic soda or caustic potash. Hence the baby soap while exerting a cleansing action does not irritate the delicate skin of the baby.

        Soaps like Lifebuoy and Cinthol containing chemicals like carbolic acid or hexachlorophene, should not be used routinely for infants as these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and exert a toxic effect.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Your baby (Birth to 1 year)’.