I have come to the conclusion that people who gush about how fun and relaxing bath time is for babies are compulsive liars with an inferno of flames spewing from their underwear. It has to be one of the most stressful things you can do with a baby and requires enough prepping to put a military operation to shame. Suffice it to say, we put off giving a bath to Mishty for as long as possible, choosing to “top and tail” once we discovered that simply putting deodorant on a baby wasn’t allowed.
We finally succumbed after getting a lot of grief from both sets of grandparents who were concerned about dirt, neglect and a worrying lack of hygiene… and that was just about me. Mishty’s first few baths were done by the capable hands of our parents who took it upon themselves to bath the baby every time they visited while we looked on in helpless awe. However, after a sizeable gap in visits we decided to take on the challenge to do it by ourselves. How hard could it be? We were about to find out…
The first part of the process was to fill the mini bath tub. A seemingly easy task until you realise you have no idea how high the water needs to be (babies can drown in 2 inches) and that your elbow tells you diddlysquat when it comes to checking the temperature. After seeing the mother in law and Hubby squabble over the temperature previously, I ordered a rubber duck thermometer (practical AND fun!!). I plopped it into the water only for the screen to remain blank. Much wrestling with the battery opening thing and several failed attempts to make it work, I realised that buying cheap tat from China off Amazon may not have been as great an idea as initially thought. We resorted to trusting our undeveloped instincts and hoping for the best.
The next step was getting Mishty undressed. Once he was naked I wrapped him in a towel to keep him warm and went to check on the bathroom. I came back to see his face suspiciously moist. It took a few seconds before it dawned on me that he’d weed in his face. The towel was soaked so I had to pick him up without it but I forgot that my hands were a wee bit cold until Mishty reminded me by screaming hysterically as soon as I touched him. I tried to hold him close so he felt my body warmth but this had no effect. Just as I thought the crying couldn’t get any worse, I dunked him in the water and the screaming went up from “Aaaaargh, I’m naked, cold and pissed off” to “Help, I think my mum is trying to kill me”. I started to freak out, wondering if I had scalded him because he sounded like he was in serious pain. I probably should have tried to ease him in a bit more slowly too. Shit, shit, shit was all my brain was saying, while my mouth was saying, “ooohhh isn’t this lovely, splish splash, la la la” to a baby who was going red in the face and clearly telling me to fuck off in baby language. I tried singing loudly to drown out the screams but this only escalated the problem.
I wondered about the positioning. Even though the bath came with a support for the baby to lean on, I hadn’t figured out how to hold him and he was wobbling perilously and not looking happy. This was getting distressing so we decided to take him out but the whole rigmarole of finding another clean towel was taking time. Hubby finally found a spare one and I handed Mishty awkwardly to be wrapped up. Not knowing how to swaddle in mid-transfer was clearly putting us at a disadvantage. We somehow bundled him up and then wondered how to wash his hair. Being the skivers that we are, we would have skipped this part except he had a LOT of hair that badly needed washing. It was baffling - were we supposed to do this before or after the bath? Jug or sponge? Where was the jug? Where was the sponge? Was shampoo getting into his eyes and ears? WHY WAS HE STILL SCREAMING?
We were all completely traumatised by now and it had only been five minutes. We lay him on the changing mat, half wrapped in his towel hoping he would calm down soon. As I began putting the nappy on, I had to suddenly leap to the side to narrowly dodge the projectile wee which was now going all over him and the new unworn nappy. I screamed which startled him enough to stop the pee mid-flow before he started crying even more and weeing all over his face again. I resorted to using wipes which were of course cold and so more crying ensued. In a new tactic, we moved to the bedroom which was warmer and tried to put his clothes on there as quickly as possible. In my hasty attempt to make the clothes warm I had put them on the halogen heater instead of the radiator. A burning smell told me this was not a good idea and I had to rush around for another outfit that was not burnt. Moisturising him with oil also meant that the clothes were not gliding over him as easily as it should and was taking ages. An eternity later and he was finally bathed, oiled and dressed, but still crying. We dealt with it the only way we knew how – milk. He soon conked out from the exertion of crying hysterically coupled with a milk induced coma.
We learnt a lot from that experience and have since found a much easier way to give him a bath – letting the grandparents do it!