How to Bathe Your Baby

slice-of-life_individualI’m participating in Laura Shovan’s daily poetry challenge this month. Each day someone posts a prompt around the theme “Water.” Yesterday’s prompt was for a How-to poem that included a reference to water. I considered a few ideas and one by one, rejected them. Then my mind, in that random way it has, flew back to one of my favorite memories–the first time my husband and I bathed our son, Connor.

It’s a memory that never fails to make me smile. I look back and see us standing by the kitchen sink, Connor in our arms. We were so earnest, so nervous, so determined to do it right.

I had a book. (Of course I had a book!) It was probably “What to Expect the First Year” or some such thing. I distinctly remember we had read and reread the section “Baby’s First Sponge Bath” in anticipation of this event. I’m pretty sure I’d even read it aloud. (If I remember correctly, my husband didn’t even roll his eyes. In fact, he may have been reading over my shoulder.)

Now the time was here. The counter was littered with the requisite items: bath towel, cotton pads, Q-tips, washcloth, baby soap, and whatever else was called for. I may have actually had a thermometer there to check the water temperature.

I look back at us in that long ago kitchen and feel such a huge affection for the two of us, so young with this beautiful new baby. Oh, how we already loved him. Oh, how much we wanted to do it all right.

I distinctly remember the book, open on the counter, and reading aloud step by step through the book as we bathed him. My husband, who was an RN, made no protest. We took turns holding, washing, soothing. We were starting from square one together. Doing the best we could. 

How to Bathe Your Baby

Before beginning,
read the appropriate section of the book–
once or twice.
(Okay, maybe three times.)
Gather required supplies.
Place them carefully on the counter.
(Do you have them all?)
(Double check.)

Gently undress your baby
bit by bit.
Reveal small sections of his perfect skin.
Soothe his cries.
Marvel at his delicate fingers and
their gentle exploration of the air.
Press a kiss at the nape of his neck.
Smooth your hand over his head of dark hair.
Let your fingers linger.
Moisten the washcloth with warm water
Gently smooth it over his skin–
Learn the universe of his curves.

Follow the directions in the book–
step by careful step.
Handle him like fine china.

When done,
wrap him in a soft towel.
Cradle him between the two of you.
Keep working as a team.
Do the best you can.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

17 thoughts on “How to Bathe Your Baby

  1. margaretsmn says:

    I absolutely love this! So gentle and full of the hope and love that comes with a newborn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes, especially the line, “handle him like fine china,” Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks. I wanted to capture that enraptured and slightly overwhelmed feel of those early days, and overall the feeling that we were gifted with something so precious–like fine china.


  3. Morna Gersho says:

    My gosh! I miss these times. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh how I remember bathing each of my children for the first time. I was terrified with Isabelle (and slightly-less terrified, but still scared with Ari) since I had never bathed a baby before!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jcareyreads says:

    Do the best you can. My mantra. Lovely. Brought me back to my babies in the bath. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. arjeha says:

    To me, fear, love, and joy shine through this piece. You and your husband worked as a team. What a great way to share a precious memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The joys of new borns! That “What to Expect” book was worn and tattered by the time we donated it to our local book sale. However, so many memories of those little moments of being new parents.

    “Do the best you can.” Good advice. Always.

    Thank you for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another gem. I just sent it on to two moms who will love your piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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