Our tradition decrees a set routine for a baby's bath: Massage, Bath and after bath care.
The main idea is to oil the baby's skin (moisturising) and stimulate it. You have to be careful not to harm the baby's tender body in the process.
It's a good idea to allow someone who is experienced at massaging babies to massage your baby for a few days. You can watch them and decide what elements of their method you would like to retain and discard.
Once you are comfortable with your own body's healing post delivery, you can take over the massage. This helps you to have a lot of skin contact with your baby and increases bonding.
Your pediatrician may suggest you do not use any oil on the baby's skin initially. It's your call on whether you want to follow his/her advice.I personally used Johnson's baby oil for the first few days. Then my baby developed a rash and I tried out olive oil, til oil and finally settled down at coconut oil. I generally added a couple of drops of Almond (badam) oil to the coconut oil and then applied it to the baby's skin and head.
It is kind to use lukewarm oil on the baby's skin, so it is best to heat the oil for a few seconds before use. Test the temperature of the oil on the back of your palm before you apply it to your baby's tender skin.
Once the baby is massaged, he is ready for a bath.
Never use cold water on new born babies. They are used to the warmth of the womb and it is necessary to bathe them in warm water to make the bath as pleasant as possible for them.
As always, test the temperature of the water on the back of your palm before you apply it to your baby's tender skin. The water should be warm but not hot. You should be able to pour an entire mug of it on the back of your palm without feeling in the least bit uncomfortable.
The hospital where you deliver will have it's own suggestion about what soap to use for your baby in the initial few days. It's a good idea to continue to use the same soap for the baby until a week after the umbilical cord has fallen off.When you feel the umbilical cord area has completely dried and healed, you can start using other traditional bathing methods.
For the first 2 months, I used a mixture of Turmeric (Haldi) powder and Mung Dal (Green Gram) Flour mixed in milk cream instead of soap for my baby.
From then on, I used a mixture of Turmeric (Haldi) powder, Chana Dal Flour (Besan), milk cream & rose water mixed to the consistency of thick cake batter.
Oil the baby as usual, then apply this paste evenly on the entire body and face and wash off with water. There is no need to use soap.
From the 8th month onwards, I started using almond (badam) and sandalwood (chandan) paste. After the massage, I apply this paste on the baby's skin and leave it on for a minute or two. Then I bathe the baby with the Chana dal, turmeric etc. mixture mentioned above.
Not using soap makes me feel that I am not subjecting my baby's skin to an onslaught of complex chemicals. Besides, Turmeric, Milk Cream, Rose water, Besan, all have properties that contribute to good complexions.
When the whole world is turning to Ayurveda and people are paying BIG money to get treated at spas, start early with your baby at home!!
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