A midwife shares how to look after your little one’s locks with care
By Madeleine Bourne
When it comes to parenting 101, there’s often conflicting advice out there on what’s best for your baby. Whether it’s from a vocal friend who dishes out tips and tricks with an air of confidence, or through consulting Dr Google in a panic, it can feel overwhelming quietening the noise to work out what’s right.
A task that should be second nature, like hair washing, can suddenly become a parenting minefield: what’s the optimum water temperature? What products should you use to ensure your child ends bath time happy and clean? We enlisted Midwife Marley, expert speaker for The Baby Show Live At Home event, to provide that essential step-by-step guide to washing your baby’s hair.
Step 1: Figuring out a routine
As your baby grows, so too will the frequency of bath times. ‘A newborn’s head can be washed any time the parents want after birth,’ says Midwife Marley. ‘Some babies have lots of blood and mucous matted in their hair, so you may want to wash that off within the first day or so, but it’s okay to wait several days if the head is pretty clean.’
If your baby’s head is covered in a white waxy substance, that’s not a cause for panic: it’s something called vernix. ‘This should be left or rubbed into the skin gently like a moisturiser rather than being washed off,’ Midwife Marley explains.
‘After the first time, once a week is probably enough for hair washing, unless it’s heavily soiled by incidents like baby vomit. There’s no set rule on how often to bathe your baby initially, but by the time a baby is six to eight weeks old, daily bathing at the same time is beneficial, as it helps them to settle into a routine.’
Step 2: Setting up bath time
The good news is that bath time for babies involves less fuss than a groomed beard or so-called effortless waves. ‘A bowl of warm water, a sponge and a towel are all you initially need,’ Midwife Marley advises. ‘As for water temperature, around 37°C is ideal. Feeling the water with an elbow is a good way to check that it’s not too hot or cold.’
Step 3: Choosing the right products
Gently does it when it comes to baby hair products. ‘It’s recommended that you should use only water for the first month of a baby’s life,’ Midwife Marley explains. ‘After that, if parents want to use baby products, ones that are pH-balanced and free of sulphates are best.’
NetDoctor says: AVEENO® Baby Daily Care 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner ticks all the boxes, as its formula is pH-balanced and free from sulphates, soap and dyes. It cleanses, conditions and nourishes your baby’s scalp, leaving hair feeling soft and healthy. Plus, with all your baby’s hair needs in one formula, it’ll save you time as well as money.
Step 4: The hair wash
You’ve made it this far without a parenting disaster or consulting Dr Google, so now it’s time for the actual hair wash. ‘Clean the head, face and neck first, using a sponge, while the baby’s wrapped in a towel,’ says Midwife Marley. ‘Newborn babies can get cold quickly, so washing and bathing shouldn’t take too long – a couple of minutes should suffice.’
Newborns’ skin is 30% thinner than adults’, so easy does it. ‘Wash the area gently,’ advises Midwife Marley. ‘If there’s sensitive skin on the crown of the head, excessive rubbing can make it sore. If there’s any concern about rashes, seek the advice of your GP or health visitor.’
To end bath time, Midwife Marley says: ‘Your baby can be immersed in water to be cleaned by gently sponging water onto its skin. Remember to pay extra attention to the neck and creases where milk and sweat may accumulate.’
NetDoctor says: Use AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Gentle Bath & Wash to cleanse your baby’s delicate skin from top to toe without leaving it feeling dry. To finish, gently pat your child dry with a towel and apply AVEENO® Daily Moisturising Lotion to lock-in moisture and nourish skin. Parenting 101 status: achieved.