It was a daunting prospect having to bathe Small for the first time. Having spent some time reading the advice on how to do it, it seemed that I needed a shed load of equipment and had a hundred things to remember if I didn’t want to ruin the experience for Small and myself.
The recommended equipment that I needed, laid out ready to hand was:
- Cotton wool balls.
- Sponge or flannel.
- Mild, liquid baby cleanser (the cleanser was liquid, not the baby).
- Posset cloth (see separate listing) because Small was a boy and had a tendency to wee when his nappy came off and he felt the fresh air on his skin.
- Bath thermometer for testing the water temperature. Apparently I could have used my elbow, in which case the water should have felt neither hot nor cold, just wet, but seeing as the recommended bath temperature was between 37 & 38oc I felt there wasn’t a lot of room for error and I didn’t want to be responsible for either freezing or scalding Small.
- Clean, dry towel. [Hooded towels were best for wrapping up Small from top to toe.] It was recommended to have a spare towel ready in case Small spontaneously wee’d when being removed from the warm water. [Like grown men, boys are prone to weeing whenever their bits have a change of environment.]
- Clean nappy and clothes.
- Warm blanket to wrap my clothed Small in to bring him back up to sustainable living temperature. Although it was advised not to keep him in it for too long in case he became too hot.
To ensure that everything went smoothly I enlisted the assistance of my wife, so that she could pass me equipment when I call for it, surgeon like, as I concentrated on the tricky operation before me.
Once I had the recommended equipment laid out and my assistant standing ready, I had to ensure the environment was suitable for a naked, wet Small. That meant making sure the room was at the recommended temperature of 24oc, that all the windows were closed and there were no draughts.
The final part of preparation was to fill the bath. Whilst the ‘bath’ could have been a sink or the actual bath we had decided to use a baby bath; basically a suitably sized plastic tub that sits in the big bath, on the floor, on a cupboard or in its own stand. We used it in Small’s room, on top of the chest of drawers where he had his nappy changed. The problem was how to fill it, which I overcame by filling it in the bath and then carrying it through to the nursery. The downside was that the filled bath was quite heavy and had a tendency to slop water on the carpet and the doidens (see separate listing), if they were underfoot, which they were.
With everything in place I took a deep breath and began.
The actual process of bathing took no time at all and was completely disproportionate to the time involved in preparing for the event. This proved to be typical of any task to be undertaken with Small. It was highly labour intensive and totally inefficient. It is why I was busy dawn to dusk but never seemed to have achieve anything much at all. I began to realise that the sooner I came to terms with this fundamental fact the less stressed I would become.
I now had a clean Small, happily bundled in a warm blanket but I was not quite finished; I still had to complete the after bath process:
- First, I had to set about trying to bring the temperature of the room back down to the 16-20oc recommended for sleeping. According to the advice I had to be careful not to open any windows though, in case it caused a draught.
- Second, the bath needed to be emptied, preferably without adding to the puddles or drowning any more doidens.
- Finally, all the other mess I had created had to be tidied up. This involved binning the old nappy and used cotton wool, putting away the baby cleanser and stuffing dirty clothes and any wee soaked posset clothes and towels in the wash basket.
In the first few weeks of looking after Small there was a tendency to wash everything after one use, whether it needed it or not. For instance, even if a towel had not been weed on it was put straight in the wash. After weeks of constant washing I became more discerning.
Similarly, once I had been through the bathing process a few times it became much less fraught and more streamlined. I learnt from Small what he liked and didn’t like and I was able to take pleasure in his enjoyment of the water. He gave his first proper giggles and non-wind induced smiles whilst in the bath. And we both smiled and giggled over his wind induced blurbations (not a word but it should be) in the bath. As a result, whilst the preparation and operational functions of bathing become faster, the total time spent bathing remained the same; we both just got a lot more out of it.
A few weeks down the line bathing became part of the going to sleep routine. The bathing process is sleep inducing and acted as a trigger as part of a regular sleep routine. The routine also included cuddling, rocking, reading and gentle ‘for the love of god please put my Small to sleep’ music.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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