baby care

Newborn bathing: a renewed art

Newborn bathing: a renewed art


Theo, 30 years old: “My son is 1 month old and always cries when we give him a bath. However, we do things gently, as explained to the motherhood.

The answer of Sonia Krief, childcare assistant: “A baby should not cry in his bath unless the conditions are not good, he is hungry, he is cold, he is not sufficiently content . He may also be telling something about his story, his needs, his emotions.

You may have seen these images of blissful children, half asleep, swaddled and cradled gently in their bathtub, reassured by a soft and calm voice. This voice is that of Sonia Krief, childcare assistant and founder of the Thalasso Bain Bébé method (read framed), whose method has met with great success on social networks, with parents and professionals alike. Because Sonia Krief brings this again that she gives a new dimension to the bath: “It’s not just a toilet, it’s a place where a lot of things are said.” Indeed, the moment is rich in sensory stimulation. The muted sounds of immersion, the vibrations of the water, the lights in the bathroom, the weightlessness and the contact of the water with the skin, activate all the senses. The child regains recent in utero sensations. After spending nine months in a hot liquid, reintegrating this comfortable element provokes a feeling of familiar well-being conducive to the release of all kinds of emotions.

The good gestures

Moment of relaxation and sharing, the bath must also meet certain safety rules, for the well-being of the child:

  • Choose suitable equipment (sink or bathtub) previously cleaned.
  • Check the water temperature with a thermometer. It should be 37°C.
  • To prepare all the necessary toiletries beforehand in order to have everything at hand.
  • Never answer the phone (even portable) and, in general, never leave the baby alone and unattended during the bath. “Turn your head away, even for a few seconds, can unfortunately cause tragedy,” warns Mario Gehri, chief physician at the Children’s Hospital in Lausanne.
  • Each parent can find the most suitable holding position. Professionals often recommend the “clamp” technique. It consists of placing your left (or right) forearm under the child’s neck and holding his left (or right) arm at armpit level with your thumb and index finger closed. Thus maintained, it will not slip and you will be able to wash with your free hand.
  • To prevent it from getting cold, the baby’s body must be properly immersed, not just his back, but also his arms and stomach. It is advisable to prepare clean clothes and a towel beforehand and to heat the room between 20 and 25 degrees.
  • Choose the time of day well. For him to be in good spirits, avoid bathing if the child is hungry or too tired.
  • Deckchairs and bath seats are not recommended in the first months of life because the newborn does not have enough energy to hold on, and they expose to a risk of drowning if the parent lowers his vigilance.

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Both the father and the mother have their place in this ritual, which can take the form of a global experience with massages, hugs, words. “Talking to the child is very important. This allows him to explain what is happening, to reassure him by sending him positive messages of confidence, security, welcome, adds Sonia Krief. The baby communicates from birth, through his eyes, his cries, the movements of his body.

The bath and its virtues

We no longer count the benefits of the bath, whether for young or old. Relieving pain, lowering blood pressure, promoting relaxation… “In the newborn, the bath is something extremely exciting, explains Professor Mario Gehri, head doctor at the Children’s Hospital in Lausanne. . It is probably beneficial for his sleep and his development.”

Apart from certain contraindications that require special care (an infected cord, dermatological problems, recent surgery, etc.), newborns can be bathed from their first days of life. “To avoid the risk of hypothermia, we still prefer to wait until the next day, or even two days after the birth”, specifies Fabienne Pace-Nicolet, midwife in charge of supervision and clinical practices at the Post-natal Unit. partum from the maternity ward of the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG). A recommendation that also applies to premature babies. “As soon as the child is able to regulate his temperature, he benefits from baths, which are part of childcare from the start of his life,” adds Mario Gehri. However, it is not necessary to seek to remove the vernix caseosa, a protective substance from the skin which disappears naturally after birth, and a toilet with water is enough. You can possibly use a little cleansing lotion to remove stains from stools or the scalp, but choose without soap and without perfume to avoid irritation of the skin. “Similarly, to protect the hydrolipidic film and not dry out the skin, we recommend spacing out the baths, every 2 to 4 days”, adds Fabienne Pace-Nicolet, who recalls: “There is no urgent imperative. If the bath has to be postponed for a day, it does not matter. The important thing is that parents and children are in the best possible position to enjoy the moment.

Thalasso Bath Baby, more than a bath

Developed in the 2000s by Sonia Krief, childcare assistant, trainer and author, Thalasso Bain Bébé (TBB) is a method that rethinks the moment of bathing, favoring an approach that combines observation, listening and communication. The images of these timeless moments melt the followers of social networks and have already seduced many parents and professionals in maternity and neonatology.

What are the main principles of your method?
Sonia Krief: It is above all a method turned towards the baby, who is capable of telling us many things. I sometimes wrap them in a diaper, but some need freedom to be able to move. The bath that I propose is not intended to clean the child, it is not a hygiene bath. I only clean him of his emotions, sometimes linked to a difficult pregnancy or childbirth. It is an approach that goes beyond care, in an almost philosophical dimension.

According to you, can the bath free the baby of his emotional memory during childbirth…
Yes indeed. When things have been difficult, during pregnancy or birth, babies know how to say it, cry it. In the water, the newborn finds sensations in utero, he returns “home”. Normally this is reassuring, but sometimes it can also remind him of something negative. These children must be freed from this history inscribed in them, from this fear of a difficult birth. Water can have very restorative virtues, provided it connects with the child, gives them confidence so that they in turn can trust and tell stories.

In a fast-paced world, you put slowness and contemplation back at the center of things. Why is this so important?
A baby cannot stand speed, what goes quickly does not suit him. You have to find the rhythm of the rocking, know how to stop when he is no longer well, take him in your arms, calm him, put him to the breast… I would like to make parents understand that the faster you go, the more he stresses , the more he cries, and the more he cries, the more he stresses, the faster we go. It is the serpent biting its own tail. Everything is already going too fast for the baby, but the bath can put a break on time. Open your eyes, contemplate this spectacle… so much happens when you take the time to watch.

To discover the Baby Bath Thalassotherapy :


Published in Planète Santé magazine N° 43 – December 2021


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