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How to Bathe a Newborn: The Comprehensive Guide

Giving a newborn a bath for the first time is an important event, so it’s no wonder new parents often have lots of questions about how to do it right. Read on to learn all the ins and outs of how to give a newborn a bath.

You may start to bathe your baby soon after they are born; however, it’s better to wait until they’re at least 24 hours old. It’s okay to bathe your newborn baby three times per week to keep them clean. Bathing your newborn baby more frequently than that, especially with soap, may make their skin dry. It’s fine to clean the genitals of your baby by using cotton pads and warm water in between baths. Start with a reasonable duration of bathing both for your baby and you.

Wondering when to give newborns a bath during the day? You can give a baby a bath at any time. It’s best to select a time of day when you are free and relaxed and there are no chances of interruption. In addition, for the best possible experience, avoid bathing a baby when they are hungry or immediately after feeding them.

If your newborn likes bathing and it relaxes them, giving them a bath can be a method to help them sleep at night.

For the first few weeks, you should bathe your baby with a sponge bath. This is the only safe way to give a baby a bath before their umbilical cord stump falls off. Before giving the newborn a sponge bath, make sure you have all the things you need for the bath within reach.

Here’s a handy supply list for a newborn sponge bath: 

  • A towel or a blanket to lay on hard surfaces
  • A basin of lukewarm water 
  • Washcloth
  • Clean diaper
  • Baby soap (mild)
  • Baby towel

Follow these steps to give your baby a sponge bath:

  • Choose a warm room for bathing your baby. A temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Remove their diaper and clothes and gently wrap the baby in a baby towel.
  • Lay them on a flat surface such as a changing table or bed.
  • Unwrap their towel, taking care to only expose the part of their body you’re about to wash.
  • Start with the top of the head and face of your baby. Dip a clean washcloth in warm water without soap and wipe the area around their eyes, chin, outer ears, neck folds, and forehead.
  • Add a couple of drops of baby soap in warm water and dip the cloth in soapy water. Use this washcloth to clean the remaining areas of the body one at a time, ending with the diaper area.
  • Use a fresh towel to dry your infant taking care to dry between the folds of the skin.

If your newborn was circumcised, carefully follow the instructions from your physician to keep the area dry and clean until it heals properly. It generally takes around one week to heal fully.

After their umbilical cord stump falls off, you can give a baby a bath in a bathtub made for babies. Follow these steps to safely bathe your infant in a bathtub:

Fill the baby bathtub with a small quantity of water. It’s best to use an infant bath tub manufactured on or after October 2, 2017, so that it meets new safety requirements. You can place the tub in your regular bathtub or sink, depending on the model.

After their umbilical cord stump falls off, you can give a baby a bath in a bathtub made for babies.

Start filling the tub with cold water, then add hot water to bring it to the desired temperature. Generally, two or three inches of warm water in the tub is enough. Always check the baby bathwater temp using your wrist or elbow before giving a bath to an infant. If you have a bath thermometer, check that the baby bath temp is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Undress the baby and immediately put them into the filled bathtub so they don’t become cold.

Using one hand, support the head of the baby. Use the other hand to place them feet-first into the bathtub. You should take care to keep their neck and head above water when you give a baby a bath.

Use only mild pH-neutral baby soap with no additives to wash the baby.

Gently pour or splash warm water all over the baby to keep them warm while in the bathtub.

Use only mild pH-neutral baby soap with no additives to wash the baby. It’s best to use it sparingly. Wash them with a washcloth or your hand from head to toe, back, and front. When you rinse shampoo from their head, cup your hand across the forehead so the suds run toward the sides, not into the eyes. Use a soap-free wet washcloth to clean their face and eyes gently. 

Rinse the infant thoroughly using cupfuls of warm water. Wipe them clean with a washcloth. Then carefully lift them out of the bathtub by supporting their head and neck with one hand and their bottom with another hand.

Wrap your infant in a towel and pat them dry. Make sure to also dry between their skin folds.

While giving a newborn a bath, never leave them unattended in the bathtub for even one second.

The following are the various baby bath products that you may need when you give a newborn a bath:

A baby bathtub that’s compliant with safety standards: You may place it on the floor while bathing your baby.

Bath towels for babies: A hooded bath towel makes it easy to wrap the newborn’s head and hair and dry them.

Make sure your baby bathtub is compliant with safety standards. As for baby shampoos, choose those that are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, and soap- and alcohol-free.

Bath toys for older babies: These help make bath time enjoyable and fun in addition to creating the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

Shampoo shield: This helps protect the eyes of the baby from shampoo while you wash their hair.

Baby washcloths: Buy washcloths made of pure cotton (100% cotton) that are soft and fine to protect the delicate skin of the baby.

Baby shampoo: Baby shampoo is much gentler than shampoo for adults. The best ones are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, and soap- and alcohol-free.

It’s quite normal for infants to find their first baths a little distressing. But it doesn’t take long for the majority of babies to start enjoying bath time. If your baby doesn’t like bathing or cries during baths, make sure that the room is comfortably warm and the baby bathwater temp isn’t too hot or cold.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/washing-your-baby/

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Bathing-Your-Newborn.aspx

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044438

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000020.htm

https://extranet.who.int/rhl/topics/newborn-health/care-newborn-infant/who-recommendation-bathing-and-other-
immediate-postnatal-care-newborn

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22210929

https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/newborn-bathing

https://www.olchc.ie/Healthcare-Professionals/Nursing-Practice-Guidelines/Bathin-an-infant-under-1-.pdf

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