Bathing Your Newborn Baby

Bath time can be full of bonding moments for mom and baby.

Bathing a newborn can be overwhelming because they’re so little and the water makes them slippery! Bath time can also be full of bonding moments that help build trust and provide reassurance and comfort.

I can recall being stressed the first few times I bathed an infant until we found a bath routine that calmed us all. Here are a few tips to help you when bathing your new bundle.

Reminders Before Bathing Your Newborn Baby

Until your baby’s umbilical cord stump dries up and falls off, and that area has healed a bit, it’s best to just sponge bathe your baby. Using a warm, wet, soft washcloth, clean their hands and face, as well as their genitals. Of course, always check with your healthcare provider and ask any questions if you have concerns.

Once the cord stump has fallen off, you can give your baby a tub bath. Remember that little babies do not usually need to be bathed every day - some people find bathing their babies too frequently can lead to dry skin. For a newborn, it’s easiest to use a small plastic baby tub, and either set it up in your kitchen or bathroom – wherever you have the most space, the warmest area, and where it will be most comfortable for you.

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A few reminders before we go through the step-by-step of bath time:

1. Never ever leave your baby alone in the tub – even for a second. It doesn’t matter who calls or who rings the doorbell, a baby can drown very fast in very little water. If you must step away, wrap the baby in a towel and bring the baby with you.

2. Make sure you don’t put the baby in the tub while the water is still running. You need to ensure both a comfortable amount of water and a comfortable temperature before putting the baby in.

3. Set your water heater appropriately; it varies, but many set it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

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4. Some babies love bath time and can become a soothing, calming time for them. Others hate it, and will scream the entire time (at least at first). Whichever yours is – don’t fear – you’re not alone, and it likely won’t be like that forever. Both of mine learned to love their baths and still do to this day.

6 Tips for Bathing Your Newborn Baby

Now that we’re all ready to bathe safely, here is a step-by-step guide with tips:

1. Make sure you have everything you need with you before starting the bath: soap, washcloth, towel, etc. Make sure you have the diaper and clothes ready and that the temperature of the room you are in is appropriate so your baby doesn’t get too cold.

2. Fill the tub with water – approximately 2-4 inches; it should feel warm but not hot. Many people say to test it with the inside of your wrist. You may want to use a bath thermometer to check the temperature.

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3. Once your baby is undressed and ready to go into the bath, slip them in gradually, making sure to support his/her body so they don’t startle and so they can adjust to the warmth of the water.

4. Use a mild baby soap of your choice, and remember you need very little. You’ll want to bathe them top to bottom and front to back. Make sure to rinse thoroughly, and when lifting your baby out of the tub, make sure to have the towel ready. Many people like to use the hooded baby towels so that you can really warm them up and dry them off well. You’ll have a very sweet, wrapped up baby bundle to gently dry off before getting them dressed. When lifting baby out of the bath, make sure to support their neck, head, and bottom well. Remember they’ll be slippery when they’re all wet!

5. Many people like to apply a gentle baby lotion after bath time. Enjoy this special, sweet time with your baby. You might want to give a gentle massage, especially if this is the start of your pre-bedtime routine for your baby.

6. Enjoy, and cuddle up!

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Do you have any tips that helped you with those early days of baby bath time?

Disclosure: This post provides content and discussion related to health, wellness, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog including links should not be considered medical advice and should not be construed as such. Any health/wellness information should not be considered an alternative or replacement for information given to you by a licensed physician. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with a licensed physician.

Linda Scruggs

Linda Scruggs

Linda Scruggs RN, BSN serves as a resource for parents in the digital space, creating helpful health and wellness content. She has specialized for over 12 years in reproductive medicine, and family and women's health as a nurse. A mom of two young children, her work can be seen on her own blog via her site,, as a contributor to The Huffington Post, and created the patient education program in one of the top fertility centers in the country. Linda is all about empowerment in motherhood and would love to connect on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as @UnboxedMom

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