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Sponge Baths

During her first week or two, until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off, your newborn should only sponge bathed.

In a warm room, lay the baby anywhere that’s flat and comfortable for both of you – a changing table, bed, floor or counter next to the sink will do. Pad hard surfaces with a blanket or fluffy towel. If the baby is on a surface above the floor, use a safety strap or keep one hand on her at all times to make sure she doesn’t fall.

Have a basin of water, a damp double-rinsed (so there is no soap residue in it) washcloth, and a supply of mild baby soap within reach before you begin. Keep your baby wrapped in a towel, and expose only the parts of her body you are actively washing. Use the dampened cloth first without soap to wash her face, so you don’t get soap into her eyes or mouth. Then dip it in the basin of soapy water before washing the remainder of her body and, finally, the diaper area. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and, especially with a girl, in the genital area.

Your doctor may recommend an oil bath under certain conditions like when your baby has dry or irritated skin. The procedure is the same as for a sponge bath but use oil instead of water as the cleansing fluid.

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