How to Give a Newborn a Bath

By
Shelley Frost
- December 21, 2017

Tips for Bathing Your Newborn

How to Give a Newborn a Bath
Sorajack/iStock/GettyImages

Worried about that first bath with your slippery newborn? Calm those nerves with tips to make bath time easier. Newborns don't always love the water at first, but you may find bath time quickly becomes one of your favorite times to play and bond with your little one.

Keeping Your Baby Warm

Newborns sometimes don't like the sensation of bath time because they feel chilly. If possible, bathe your newborn in a room that is at least 75 degrees F, so he'll stay warm. Keep him dressed until you're ready to give him the bath. Gather all the supplies, so you can put him in the bath quickly. Fill the tub with warm water right before you start the bath to keep it from cooling too quickly. Water around 100 F degrees F keeps your baby warm without being too hot.

When the bath is over, have a warm, fluffy towel ready to wrap around your baby. Pop the towel in the dryer before the bath for extra warm. Dress him quickly in warm, cozy pajamas. If he's upset after the bath, wrap him in a warm blanket and snuggle with him to help him calm down.

How to Give Your Baby a Sponge Bath

Experts suggest using sponge baths until your little one loses her umbilical cord stump. You can expect your newborn to lose it about a week or two after birth. Use either a baby bath sponge or washcloth to wash your baby during the sponge bath.

Find a large, flat space for the bath such as a kitchen counter, bed, floor or changing table. Put a thick towel beneath your baby to keep her warm and to absorb any excess water. Run a tub of warm water, or fill the sink if you're bathing her in the kitchen.

Undress her, and wrap her in the towel. Uncover one part of her body at a time, leaving the rest covered to keep her cozy and warm. To wash her body, dip the sponge or washcloth in the warm water. Squeeze out the extra, and wipe each part of her body, starting with her face. When you've finished, dry her off and dress her in fresh clothes.

How to Give Your Baby a Regular Bath

When your little one is ready for a regular bath, you have options. Some parents just use a sink to bathe babies. Others buy an infant bathtub with a slanted design that lets baby lie in the tub. If you use the sink, line it with a clean towel.

Once you choose your spot, fill the container with about 2 inches of water, and add a little baby soap. You can add a little more water if you want to cover more of your baby's body. Just make sure his head stays well out of the water, so he doesn't go under the water.

Place your baby into the tub carefully, supporting his neck and head. Keep a hand behind his head and neck throughout the bath for support. Wash your baby's body, paying attention to all the creases and hidden areas. Use a small cup to pour warm water over your baby's body to keep him comfortable and rinse his body.

When you've finished washing him, wrap him in a warm towel. Dry your baby before putting on a diaper and pajamas. You can use a small amount of unscented lotion, but babies usually don't need it.

How Often to Bathe Your Baby

Babies don't need baths every day. In fact, too many baths can dry out delicate skin. Most babies are fine with three baths per week until they start moving around and playing more. Keep your baby's skin clean and healthy between baths by cleaning the diaper area thoroughly during diaper changes and wiping spit-up right away.

Newborn Bath Safety Tips

Bath time can quickly turn dangerous, so brush up on your baby bath safety tips:

  • Set your water heater thermostat to no more than 120 degrees F to reduce the risk of accidental scalding.
  • Test the water before putting your baby in the tub to avoid burns. 
  • Put your baby on a flat, sturdy surface for bath time, so the tub doesn't slip.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the water, even for a few seconds. Grab everything you need before you start the bath, so you don't have to leave.
  • Support your baby's head during the bath until she gains better neck control.

About the Author

Shelley Frost relies on her experience as a mom and working professional to cover topics on sites such as Working Mother and Intuit. She runs her own business and has previous experience working in educational management, insurance and software testing. She routinely covers parenting, education and business topics in her freelance career.