Giving your newborn a bath is one of the many magical firsts that comes along with becoming a parent, but it can often bring about a bit of anxiety about “doing it right”. So, we’ve put together some helpful tips to make the process run as smoothly as possible for you and your newborn. Bear in mind that in the first few weeks, your baby will only need sponge baths. But after the umbilical cord falls off, it’s the perfect time to introduce the bathing process.

Baby's First Bath

Below you can watch Corky Harvey, Founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury, break down each of the steps for baby’s first bath.

Some Honest tips for bathing your newborn:

  1. Time it right. Most newborn babies don’t need frequent bathing if their diaper areas are kept clean during diaper changes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), three baths per week may be enough for most babies. Time of day is up to you, but bathing your baby at night can help establish a nighttime routine and may help them feel relaxed before bed.
  2. Prep. Gather everything you might need — body wash, washcloth, towel, lotion, diaper — and place it within arm’s reach so that you can keep one hand on baby at all times.
  3. Check the temp. The AAP recommends filling the tub with 2 inches of water that feels warm (not hot!) on the inside of your wrist or elbow.     
  4. Wash. Using a fragrance-free body wash and a clean washcloth, gently wash your baby. Start with the face and chest, and work your way down to the diaper area.
  5. Rinse. To keep bath time extra gentle, carefully use a cup to pour water over your baby and rinse away soap suds.
  6. Dry. After removing your baby from the tub, quickly wrap them in a towel so they stay warm. Make sure to thoroughly dry every cute little crease to help avoid irritating their sensitive skin.
  7. Moisturize. Before dressing, use a gentle, fragrance-free lotion to moisturize and leave their skin feeling soft and smooth. This is also a great time for baby massage, which can be a special bonding moment for you and your baby.

Not all babies will like baths in the beginning, so if you get a few tears, don’t stress. And, every baby is different, so take your time and find a routine that works best for you. Lastly, remember to never leave baby alone in the tub – even just for a moment.  

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4 thoughts on “How to Bathe a Newborn: 7 Honest Tips

  1. I also think the parents need to be aware that the baby can urinate or have a bowel movement during and after bathing. Boys especially tend to pee on the person bathing and changing their diapers.

  2. My little girl always pees right after I bathe her, many times before I can dry her off enough to diaper her. To limit the mess, I lay a regular towel down (folded up so it’s her size) to place her on top of, with a waterproof changing pad liner where her bottom goes. I then use a baby towel to place over her and dry her off. This way, if she does pee, the liner catches it and it doesn’t soak the whole towel, and it can easily be tossed into the wash.

    As for temperature, you can get a baby bath thermometer that floats in the water and will continue to tell you the temperature. This way you make sure it doesn’t get too hot or cold.

    Also recommend using a hand towel or something you can soak in the warm water to cover the baby while bathing them, if your bathroom tends to be on the colder side. A thicker hand towel can also create enough weight on the baby to be comforting. My little girl seems to be less squirmy and doesn’t kick as much when I do this compared to when I don’t or use a thin towel.

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