We have received many questions on new born baby bathing or infant ablution. I thought lets share some of the questions and answers with you;

Is a new-born infant, for the first time, to be washed in warm or in cold water?

Well it is one of the common questions. It all depends on your geographical presence, weather etc. We have observed common practice to use cold water from the beginning to give impression that it is strengthening the child. This appears to be a cruel and barbarous practice and is likely to have a opposite tendency. Moreover, it frequently produces;

  • Either inflammation of the eyes, or
  • Stuffing of the nose, or
  • Inflammation of the lungs, or
  • Looseness of the bowels

Although I do not approve of cold water, we ought not to run into an opposite extreme as hot water would weaken and enervate your cute baby and thus would predispose him to disease.

At what age do you recommend a mother to commence washing her infant either in the tub, or in the nursery basin?

Simple, as soon as the navel string comes away. Sir Charles Locock strongly recommends that an infant should be washed in a tub from the very commencement. He says, “All those that I supervise begin with a tub”. Do not be afraid of water and that in plenty as it is one of the best strengtheners to a child’s constitution. How many infants suffer for the want of water from excoriation!

Which do you prefer flannel or sponge to wash a child with?

A piece of flannel is for the first part of the washing very useful, that is to say, to use with the soap and to loosen the dirt and the perspiration but for the finishing-up process a sponge, a large sponge, is superior to flannel to wash all away and to complete the bathing.

A sponge cleanses and gets into all the nooks, corners, and crevices of the skin. Besides, sponge, to finish up with, is softer and more agreeable to the tender skin of a baby than flannel. Moreover, a sponge holds more water than flannel, and thus enables you to stream the water more effectually over him.

A large sponge will act like a miniature shower bath, and will thus brace and strengthen him.


To prevent a new-born baby from catching cold, is it necessary to wash his head with brandy?

I know.  I know. But this was one of the questions from our readers. It is not necessary. The idea that it will prevent cold is wrong as the rapid evaporation of heat which the brandy causes is more likely to
give than to prevent cold.

Ought that tenacious, paste like substance, adhering to the skin of a new-born baby, to be washed off at the first dressing?

It should, provided it is done with a soft sponge and with care. If there be any difficulty in removing the substance, gently rub it, by means of a flannel, Mrs Baines recommends flannel to be used in the
first washing of an infant, which flannel ought afterwards to be burned and that the sponge should be only used to complete the process to clear off what the flannel had already loosened.

She also recommends that every child should have his own sponge, each of which should have a particular distinguishing mark upon it, as she considers the promiscuous use of the same sponge to be a frequent cause of ophthalmia (inflammation of the eyes).

Have you any general observations to make on the washing of a new-born infant?

A baby should, every morning of his life, to be thoroughly washed from head to foot and this can only be properly done by putting him bodily either into a tub or into a bath or into a large nursery basin, half filled with water.

The head, before placing him in the bath, should be first wetted (but not dried. Clean his whole body, particularly his arm pits between his thighs, his groins, and his hams, then take a large sponge in hand, and allow the water from it, well filled, to stream all over the body, particularly over his back and loins.

Let this advice be well observed and you will find the plan most strengthening to your child. The skin must, after every bath, be thoroughly but quickly dried with warm, dry, soft towels, first enveloping the child in one and then gently absorbing the moisture with the towel, not roughly scrubbing and rubbing his tender skin as though a horse were being rubbed down.

The ears must, after each ablution, be carefully and well dried with a soft dry napkin, inattention to this advice has sometimes caused a gathering in the ear. A painful and distressing complaint, and at other times it has produced deafness. Directly after the infant is dried, all the parts that are at all likely to be chafed ought to be well powdered. After he is well dried and powdered, the chest, the back, the
bowels, and the limbs should be gently rubbed, taking care not to expose him unnecessarily during such friction.

He must be partially washed every evening, indeed it may be necessary to use a sponge and a little warm water frequently during the day, namely, each time after the bowels have been relieved. Cleanliness is one of the grand incentives to health, and therefore cannot be too strongly insisted upon.

With regard to the best powder to dust an infant with there is nothing better for general use than starch the old fashioned starch made of wheaten flour reduced by means of a pestle and mortar to a fine powder or Violet Powder which is nothing more than finely powdered starch scented, and which may be procured of any respectable chemist.

If the parts about the groin and fundament be excoriated, what is then the best application?

After sponging the parts with tepid rain water, holding him over his tub, and allowing the water from a well filled sponge to stream over the parts, and then drying them with a soft napkin (not rubbing, but gently dabbing with the napkin), there is nothing better than dusting the parts frequently with finely powdered Native Carbonate of Zinc-Calamine Powder. The best way of using this powder is tying up a little of it in a piece of muslin, and then gently dabbing the parts with it.

Who is the proper person to wash and dress the baby?

It depends on your tradition and lifestyle. Some says “mother” is the best and others says “monthly nurse”. The monthly nurse is ok as long as she is in attendance but afterwards the mother unless she should happen to have an experienced, sensible, thoughtful nurse, which, unfortunately, is seldom the case.

What is the best kind of apron for a mother, or for a nurse, to wear, while washing the infant?

Flannel! A good, thick, soft flannel, usually called bath coating apron, made long and full, and which of course ought to be well dried every time before it is used. Remember it is absolutely necessary to every child from his earliest babyhood to have a bath to be immersed every morning of his life in the water. This advice unless in cases of severe illness, admits of no exception. Water to the body-to the whole body-is a necessity of life, of health and of happiness, it wards off disease, it brace? 

New born baby bathing is the finest tonic in the world. Oh, if every mother would follow to the very letter this counsel how much misery, how much ill-health might then be averted! 

This article was written in good faith. Please consult your doctor for your cute baby solutions specially when you see problems in giving bath to new born or infant ablution.

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