Alright fellas. It’s a new baby. It’s all soft and magical and fragile and if it’s brand new, probably still pooping black. There’s a whole scientific reason for that. We’re not going there.
Chances are, while you’re in the hospital, you’re not going to have to do much baby washing. Once you do finally get mama + baby back home, things really are surprisingly simple. Sleep schedules might change a bit. There will be more crying and nudity, but dad’s job is mainly support while momma heals and you get your routines set.
One of my first memories is being bathed in the kitchen sink. Seems funny now, but there are a number of reasons it makes a good choice. You can wash the sink well beforehand and it’s easier than scrubbing a bathtub. The sink isn’t too deep or wide so it’s easier to manage the little one and keep them safe. It also allows you to have stable footing while you attend to all of the crevices. They have all kinds of little tubs now just for bathing your newborn and some of them are pretty cool. Looking back, I’d skip the tub. It’s just one more thing, cluttering up your house and you won’t even use it for that long.
For the first month or so they probably only need a few baths a week. If their belly button or circumcision is still healing, wait to set them in water and start with spot cleaning. Otherwise, just use warm water and a damp cloth. Get that baby a little wet, wipe it gently, move to the next spot. Keep their head dry for the most part. You can find more tips and info here for those first baths. If you’re present, you don’t make the water too hot or cold, you do a good, gentle job getting them clean, and get them back to mama safe, you’re golden. High five!
Slowly but surely over the next 6 months they will get more active. They’ll start reaching for things, holding their own head up, and then rolling around. As they find ways to get dirtier, you’ll have to add some soap to the mix. Don’t use yours! That little one is going to need something gentle for a while. Steer clear of anything with fragrances, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. We have a baby wash that’s plant-based, non-toxic, and special formulated to be gentle on newborn skin.
If I could give any other advice it would be to be present. Help mama. Go the extra mile. Bathing is one good way, but you should get skin-to-skin time with that baby. It will do you both some good and give mom a break. After a month or two, throw on some swim trunks and totally try a shower. Their reaction to the falling water is adorable. Have a hand towel handy though. Not every baby likes splashing water on their face.
That’s it. Not too complicated. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re going to be a great dad. Be careful, but don’t let folks make you scared, especially not of your own baby. You got this!
Got any dad tips for us? Bring it on! Let’s keep the conversation rolling. Hit us up in the comments or on our social media pages.