You may have heard that holding your newborn skin-to-skin is important in the first days of life outside the womb. Also called “kangaroo care,” the benefits are well-documented and can be life-long.
Skin-to skin time can reduce your anxiety and enhance baby’s development, while stabilizing heart and breathing rates, as well as body temperature. Parents Magazine says kangaroo care makes breastfeeding easier and improves baby’s immunity. It’s also a great way to boost bonding with your child. However, you may not have thought of doing skin-to-skin after those first few hours. Yet it’s a wonderful way to reassure a postpartum mama and baby and to spend quality time for the first weeks and months of a young child’s life.
I’ve found that one way to extend skin-to-skin is to take showers with your baby. It has the added benefit of getting you both clean, which is not easy to make happen, amiright? Because whether it’s my first born or my fourth born, I’m constantly saying “When was the last time this kid was bathed?” I suggest doing showers when baby is over 6 weeks old and not yet able to crawl. Younger than that and you might be too tired to enjoy it. Older than that and they’ll be all over the bathroom.
You might be a little concerned about the logistics of pulling this off. Here are my tips and tricks:
Gather All The Things
Get your clean clothes, baby’s clothes, diaper, lotion. And lots of towels. Extra towels, because babies pee, poop and spit up. I turn on a little space heater because my bathroom is cold.
Get Baby Ready
Get baby completely undressed and wrap him or her in towels. Then I set my swaddled babe on the bath mat.
Take your shower first. I get in and get clean before I bring baby into the shower. With baby right outside on the bath math, I can do lots of peekaboos and still take care of mama. I usually do a baby shower on a day that I don’t need to wash my hair so it doesn’t take too long. Make sure all the soap is rinsed off so it doesn’t transfer to baby’s sensitive skin or make you both slippery.
I turn the water down cooler before I pick up the tiny one. Because they can be flighty and scared in a new and louder environment, cuddle baby securely with one ear against your chest, covering the other ear with your hand. Splash water with your hand on baby’s back before letting the shower spray his or her lower back. Make sure baby isn’t getting too hot or cold, and keep the splashes out of baby’s eyes. I just put shampoo on baby’s head so he doesn’t get too slippery and scrub his body with a washcloth. I also don’t switch baby’s position too much.
Take your time. Do some shower singing. Have a conversation.
Grab towels and wrap up. I like to sit on the bath mat and cuddle for a minute. I get baby dressed first, then set him on a dry towel while I get dressed, but either way works.
Your baby won’t be this tiny for long.