Use a soft wash cloth made from a piece of old table linen, towel, knitted underwear, or any other very soft material, and have two pieces, one for the face and head and one for the body. The towel should be soft and clean also. Even in summer the baby should be protected from a direct draft when being bathed lest he be too suddenly chilled.
A young baby should be carefully held while in the tub. The mother puts her left hand under the baby’s arm and supports the neck and head with her forearm. But an older baby can sit alone and in summer may be allowed to splash about in the cool water for a few minutes.
When the bath is finished the baby should be patted dry, and the mother should take great care to see that the folds and creases of the skin are dry. Use a little pure talcum powder or dry sifted corn starch under the arms and in the groin to prevent chafing. If any redness, chafing, or eruption like prickly heat, develops on the skin, no soap at all should be used in the bath. Sometimes a starch, or bran, or soda bath will relieve such conditions.
Bran Bath. Make a little bag of cheesecloth and put a cupful of ordinary bran in it and sew or tie the top. Let this bag soak in the bath, squeezing it until the water is milky.
Starch Bath. Use a cupful of ordinary cooked starch to a gallon of water. (If the laundry starch has had anything added to it, such as salt, lard, oil, bluing, it must not be used for this purpose.)
Soda Bath. Dissolve a tablespoonful of ordinary baking soda in a little water and add it to four quarts of water.
Clothing. Do not be afraid to take off the baby’s clothes in summer. All he needs in hot weather are the diaper and one other garment. For a young baby this may be a sleeveless band which leaves the arms and chest bare, and for an older baby only a loose, thin cotton slip or apron, or wrapper, made in one piece with short kimono sleeves. Toward nightfall when the day cools, or if the temperature drops when a storm arises, the baby should, of course, be dressed in such a way as to protect him from chill.
Cotton garments are best for the baby in summer. All-wool bands, shirts and stockings should not be worn at any time of the year, and in hot summer weather only the thinnest, all-cotton clothing should touch the baby’s skin, unless he is sick, when a very light part-wool band may be needed. In general, neither wool nor starch should be allowed in the baby’s clothing in summer. Wool is too hot and irritating and starched garments scratch the baby’s flesh.
The baby should be kept day and night in the coolest place that can be found. The kitchen is usually the hottest room in the house, especially if coal or wood is burned for fuel. While the mother is busy with her work the baby should be kept in another room, or better, out of doors, if he can be protected from flies and mosquitoes.