The Proper Way to Bathe Your Newborn Baby

Our babies’ “firsts” could be somewhere between exciting to a challenging one. Their first word, first crawl and first hair cut are among other things, that parents like you become excited about. However, some of their “firsts” could be challenging, especially for first time parents such as their first bath.

The baby’s fragile body and sensitive skins make us all uncertain if we are bathing them right. Unless your baby is already a toddler who plays on the ground and get dirty, bathing him or her daily is not necessary. A sponge bath once or twice a week is ideal for newborns. Your baby’s first bath is a milestone and bathing her could be a bonding moment for the both of you.

Preparation for Bath time

Remember that it is only safe for your baby to take his or her first bath when the umbilical cord stump is already healed, which is usually one week to one month after his birth. Sponge baths are the best since they are so small and slippery.

You can bath him once or twice a week and as per for time of the day, mornings are the ideal time since the water is stimulating for some newborns. You can also do it before bedtime to mellow down your little one and get him to sleep.

Prepare the towels (hooded towels are great), warm water (should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit or less), damp washcloth, diaper, cotton buds and his clean clothes. It is also easier to give him a bath using a baby bath tub instead of the usual tub at home.

Also, it is important to bath him in a warm room, with the air conditioning or electric fans off. Do it in a flat surface area such as a changing table, kitchen counter or the bed. It is very crucial that you don’t leave your baby alone while giving him a bath even in a single moment without another adult supervising the baby.

Thus, it is ideal that you prepare all the things you will need later. Gather all the things you need otherwise, you have to fetch stuffs in the middle of bath. You have to focus on bathing your baby. If you forget something or need to answer a phone call while bathing the baby, bring the baby with you.

How to Bath Your Newborn

If you are anxious and not yet confident to put your baby in the tub, you can just do the top and tail. Simply clean his face with a damp washcloth, his body and his bottom. If you are confident enough, below are the basic steps of bathing your newborn.

  • Fill the baby tub with warm water and remove baby’s clothes. Using a damp cloth with warm water or a baby bath sponge, gently wash your baby’s face and hands. Make sure to clean one area at a time.
  • Gently wash his neck and behind his ears. Use cotton buds to clean only the outer part of the ear to remove baby particles.
  • Then, wash the elbows, knees, toes and between fingers. Make sure to clean the creases under his arms and behind the ears as well.
  • Although newborns usually don’t have much hair, you can still wash his head. Tip his head back a little to avoid getting his eyes wet. You don’t need to use even baby shampoos since the baby’s skin is still delicate. Besides, he is not really dirty.
  • Lastly, clean his genitals and belly bottom. For baby girls, wash the genital from front to back to avoid infection. For baby boys that are uncircumcised, just leave the foreskin there, but if he is circumcised, just wash the head of the penis if it is completely healed. If not, just leave it there until it is healed.
  • Wash his hair if it develops cradle cap or seems dirty. Gently massage his hair using a mild baby shampoo then rinse it with a damp washcloth.
  • Gently pat him dry, but do not rub the towel to his skin or it will irritate him.

There is no need to bath your baby every day because doing so will only make his skin dry and irritated. His face, neck area and diaper area are the only parts that require frequent cleaning. Doing the entire bathing process at first is quite difficult and your baby might also not like being in the water. As you learn more about the basics of baby bath and do it more often, you will both feel comfortable.

Your baby’s safety is very important so choose the tub that suits him well. You can for free-standing tubs, inflatable tubs or plastic basins that are specially designed for newborns. Make sure to put a towel or a rubber mat first inside the tub so baby won’t slip.

The Importance of Bath Time for Babies and Parents

Beyond keeping your baby clean and smelling nice, and of course to get those adorable photo ops, bath time is essential for babies and their parents. It has plenty of benefits such as;

  1. It serves as quality time and strengthens bonds. Bath time is a special time for the both of you. Talking to them while touching them gently, kissing those little toes and baby belly and singing nursery rhymes lets your baby know you care for her.
  2. Bathing is also one important part of a baby’s sleeping routine. It helps them induce sleep since they feel comfortable and relaxed after a bath. The water, the warm feeling and your gentle touch sure work magic making it easier for you to put your baby to sleep.
  3. It serves as quality time and strengthens bonds. Bath time is a special time for the both of you. Talking to them while touching them gently, kissing those little toes and baby belly and singing nursery rhymes lets your baby know you care for her.

  1. You can learn a lot of things during bath time. You can also let your young one discover things around him. He will be able to discover and experience simple things such as splashing water, those tickling sensations and introduce him to new toys, sights and sounds.
  2. Some babies are afraid of water, but water can also soothe grumpy babies. It has the power to calm them and comfort them, especially during summer. An infant massage can add up to his relaxation.

Bath Time Tips

If this is your first time to bath your newborn baby, better to ask for assistance to those who have the experience or knowledge like your parents. You can also engage your partner in baby’s bath time so you can share the knowledge and the joy it brings.

Baby’s body could be slippery even without soap so make sure to hold him securely. Place one of your hands under his head for support. Don’t let him sit in the tub with water for too long as it can get him chilly. If the baby is upset, hungry or is sick, postpone the bath. You can do it when he feels better.

Go easy on your baby’s genitals as these are sensitive parts. Bathing your newborn could be a tedious task for the first few times, but you will definitely get the hang of it. Make sure that both of you are enjoying and in the mood for some fun and quality time while bathing.

Warm water and baby bath sponge or washcloth are enough to use when bathing your newborn but as he gets older, you will be needing some baby products to enhance his bathing experience. Look for products that are mild for baby’s delicate skin.

Help! Baby Hates Bath Time!

While some babies love the splashing sound of water and enjoy bath time a lot, other babies hate it.  According to experts, it is not advisable to force your baby in the water. If he doesn’t like to be soaked with water, use a damp washcloth to clean him. Focus on his face first, and then clean his body.

Keep the rest of his body covered while you are cleaning one body part at a time. Bath toys are not necessary for newborns as the water itself can be stimulating and exciting for them. However, older babies might need these toys.

Some bath time toys like a rubber ducky might excite him to get back in the tub routine. Remember that babies are not really afraid of water, but they tend to get scared by the sound of running water or might be afraid that it gets in their eyes.


Newborn babies surely are not yet playing in the yard or getting dirty in the ground just yet so an occasional bath is highly recommended. When it comes to baby bath for the first time, the more hands, the better! Making it a team effort for the first few baths is a great idea.

Bathing your baby should be a special moment between the two of you or with your partner. Your full attention is important so might as well let the voicemail pick up the call for you during this time. Your baby will grow soon so make his every bath time a special bonding time for the both of you.

Walter F.Hallett

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