Baby Bathing For Dummies: A Simple 12-Step Guide

About three weeks ago, my wife and I traded in our tranquil evenings for the chance to play lifesaver to a tiny, inexperienced, helpless human. Looking back, those quiet nights seem almost boring, but I say that from the calm atmosphere of an office where grownups follow the rules of a civilized society… like not peeing on themselves in front of strangers.

In the middle of bath time, where pee flows aplenty, sometimes my longing becomes a danger. I get distracted from my lifesaving duty of holding on to the wet, pudgy baby—the world’s slipperiest known surface. Trying to hang on to a wet baby in the bathtub is not unlike trying to play catch with a greased watermelon coated with Clark Griswold’s non-nutritive cereal varnish. Parents should get an award purely for not allowing their baby’s disproportionately large heads to slip through their fingers and come crashing down onto the tub floor. 

Yes, bath time is an event, one that I’m thankful only needs to happen every other night. To help my fellow new parents, I’ve broken down the whole baby bathing process into this easy-to-follow 12-step guide.

The 12-Step Baby Bathing Guide for Dummies

  1. You want to make it worth your while, so step one is getting your baby as dirty as possible. Let him (I have a baby boy, so I will be using the pronoun “him” throughout)… let him roll around on the floor in just a diaper for a few hours. If possible, make sure his diaper is fully loaded, too.
  2. Now that you’ve got a thoroughly dirty baby to work with, you need to begin your pre-bathing preparations. This starts with putting your baby somewhere safe while you run down to the laundry room to frantically search for a few clean washcloths. But not any washcloths; only the baby washcloths that have been laundered in special baby detergent.
  3. Next, if your baby is still safe wherever you left him, take the opportunity to go fill the baby bathtub with both hands free. Be sure to use water that is just barely warm, because the secret goal of bath time is to see just how uncomfortable you can make your baby.

  4. Ok, baby is still breathing, the lukewarm tub is ready, and you’ve got your baby washcloths and the special baby soap ready (you’ve got baby soap, right?). Now it’s time to strip that dirty little guy out of his diaper and do a half-assed job of wiping him clean… because he’s going straight to the tub so don’t waste any extra wipes.
  5. Get peed on. You just finished changing him out of a dirty, wet diaper. Of course he’s going to immediately pee all over you, himself, and his surroundings. I’m in week three at this point, so by now I’ve learned that you don’t really change him out of his dirty diaper… you just open it up and prepare to catch the remaining pee he’s saved up just for you.
  6. Now that he’s out of his diaper, he’s ready for his bath! Unfortunately, it’s taken so long for you to clean up the stray urine and change your shirt that the bath water is now cold. No problem! Remember, the secret goal? See how miserable you can make baby bath time. Plus, warm water would only make him pee again.
  7. Drop… I mean gently lay baby down into the bath and immediately cover his tiny little penis with a wet washcloth to deflect the pee that will surely come a flyin’. The nurses in the hospital (who were amazing) clued us in on this trick, although they said it was to keep baby warm. I quickly determined it was better for everyone if it was used more as a pee shield.
  8. Get peed on. Yes, you tried your best. You covered him up with a washcloth. You even let him pee on you back on the changing table. But he has the attention span of a goldfish and the bladder of a postmenopausal grandma with a coffee addiction who’s 20 minutes into a two-day road trip.
  9. Ignore his screaming pleas for rescue and commence scrubbing your teflon baby. Start at the top with just a wet washcloth (no soap). Clean off the dried snot from around his nose, carefully chip away at the rocks glued to his eyes on a account of that clogged tear duct that just won’t clear up, and pay extra attention to the endless folds and creases under his fat little neck. That’s where the stink hides.
  10. As quickly as humanly possible without losing your iron grip on the slipperiest thing you’ve ever touched in your life, work your way down his body. You should be using soap now, but don’t get any on his hands, you idiot! He uses those things as eye-jabbers, duh! For the remainder of his body, though, lather him up good.
  11. Get peed on.
  12. Depending on where the pee went, you may or may not be joining your son in the tub at this point. Regardless, you need to now spend some extra time on the nether regions. But take note: the butt should be the very last spot you wash. Wash it good, but wash it and it alone. Immediately throw that butt washcloth away; it’s useless to you from here on.
  13. Hey, isn’t this supposed to be a 12-step program? Yes, but babies can’t count and generally don’t give a s*** about the rules.
  14. I realize step 13 wasn’t really a step, but you need to take that time to allow the reality of bath time to fully sink in.
  15. Ok, 14 wasn’t a step either, but sometimes reality’s sting takes a while to wear off. When you come to, realize that you now have a perfectly clean baby! Rejoice over his screams of “get me the hell out of this tiny freezing cesspool you call a bath” and grab a clean, dry towel (but only one that’s been laundered with the special baby detergent). If you’re a good parent, you’ll have one of those “cute” baby towels that has a hood for his little baby head.
  16. Get peed on while drying him off. He’ll be pretty worked up at this point, so you can’t get mad at the pee this time. It’s perfectly understandable that he has yet more pee to unleash.
  17. Put on a clean diaper as fast as you can—you don’t want to get peed on. If you’re feeling up to it, go ahead and put some clothes on the little guy. If not, don’t worry about it. He won’t know the difference. He doesn’t even know the difference between me and the dog.
  18. From here, you’re looking at anywhere from 5-20 minutes of consoling him after his near-death experience in the tub. Assure him everything is ok, but warn him about the dangers of his willy-nilly peeing lifestyle. It can’t last forever… at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

 

Featured image via Flickr user Bill Swingle

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