THE BLOG
03/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Baby and the Bathwater

When the Juban Princeling was born, back in early October, we didn't worry about bathing him regularly. All the baby guides we had, and our pediatrician, told us that once a week was plenty, so long as we cleaned his diaper area regularly. For a while this was fine, as he was tiny and precious and smelled like baby. And anyway, he hated his baths. The first time we bathed him at home he screamed himself purple like we were bathing him in boiling oil. So we were fine only bathing him when necessary.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I started giving him a bath every other day, because as cute as he is, he has copious neck folds that are taking over his entire body and no amount of "a quick clean with a washcloth and some baby shampoo" does the trick in getting out the massive quantity of spit-up that, despite our best efforts, ends up trapped in there. One morning we woke up to find that our precious darling smelled like old cheese, so fine, a full bath every other day it would be.

When Husband is home, baby's needs become both our jobs. We love bathing him together, and it's much easier when one person can hold the baby while the other one cleans him. The problem is that the Princeling goes to bed for the night before Husband gets home from work; and in the mornings we're lucky when all three of us are awake together and have time for a baby bath. The result is that during the week, the Princeling's baths are solely my domain.

Bathing a baby by myself has become an art form I like to call, "Operation: Keep Baby Warm and Don't Let Him Drown or Hit His Head or Otherwise Die, But Get Him Clean, Especially Those Eighteen Adorable Chins He Has." He can't sit up entirely on his own yet, but at least by now he has good control over his head and neck. (Most of the time. The other day he head-butted me so hard while I was burping him that he made himself cry, and I had to ice a bruise on the bridge of my nose that hurt the entire rest of the day.) This allows me, at least, to sit him up in his bath and get him nice and soapy with minimal effort from either of us.

I used to bathe him in our kitchen sink when I had to do it alone. I'm not that tall, so putting his baby tub on the counter was too high, and a bad back meant I couldn't put it in the grownup tub, either. We need to be near running water, since he's a boy and sometimes pees in his baths, and call me crazy but when I rinse off my child I like to do it with clean water, not pee water. (I don't know if baby girls pee in their baths or not.) He didn't seem to mind the kitchen sink except for those few times when his touchas would get stuck in the drain, and even then, he manfully dealt with it by simply giving me a look that said, "Um, do you want to deal with this? Please?"

Now that he can sort of sit up with a little bit of help, I can put his baby tub on the kitchen counter, which is a happier bath time for us both. The baby tub has a padded bottom that he prefers over our metal kitchen sink, and his body fits better in the baby tub. Sink baths used to involve me trying to hold the Princeling in place, and the Princeling doing his best not to stay there, and every once in a while I'd manage to connect a soapy washcloth to some part of his little body. Now that we're in the "Big Boy Tub," as I call it in my own sad little effort at hard-core parenting psychology, he doesn't yet quite enjoy his baths, but at least he's resigned himself to the fact of them happening and endures them with quiet dignity. Yesterday I even got an almost-smile out of him during his bath. It's progress.