Bathing Your Baby

Bathing your child is another one of those wonderful parent-child bonding experiences. If you talk to the baby and treat this as a fun activity, your baby will come to enjoy it as well.

Unless it is a particularly hot day and your baby is sweaty, you should only have to bathe your baby once or twice a week because you are cleaning her bottom every time you change her diaper. A baby’s skin is very delicate, and bathing her more often can cause dry, sore skin.


You’ll want to give your baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord is healed, which should be about two weeks after birth. If your baby boy has been circumcised, you should also continue sponge baths until the wound has healed. After that, you may give your baby a tub bath.

The safety rules for giving a sponge bath are the same as those for giving a tub bath. First, select a safe place to give your baby a bath. Any flat surface will work including changing table for the sponge bath or kitchen table for the tub bath. Put a waterproof pad and a thick towel on the surface.

Then gather all the supplies you’ll need before you undress your baby. Remember, you can’t leave her alone even for a few seconds.

Things You’ll Need:
  • Baby soap
  • Baby shampoo
  • Two washcloths
  • Two bowls of water (for sponge bath only)
  • Bath tub with water (for tub bath only)
  • A soft towel
  • A clean diaper
  • Clothes
  • Waterproof pad
  • Thick towel

Once you have all supplies gathered, wash your hands before bringing your baby in for a bath. The steps for giving your baby a sponge bath are almost the same as the steps for giving her a tub bath.

  • Test the water in the bowls before using it to wash your baby. (Sponge Bath)
  • Test the water before putting the baby in the tub. Make sure it is not too hot. (Tub Bath)
  • Talk to your baby gently to comfort her during her bath. Let her know that everything is going to be just fine.
  • You can cover her loosely with a towel while you are giving her a sponge bath. But no matter what the temperature of the room, do not take off her diaper until it’s time to wash her bottom. An un-diapered baby could make a mess at any time. (Sponge Bath)
  • Use one of your hands to support the baby’s head and the other to guide her feet into the tub of water. Most of her body and face should be well above the water line. If not, you are using too much water. (Tub Bath)
  • Hold the baby in place with one hand the entire time you are bathing your baby. This will feel awkward at first, but you will find a position that works for you and the baby.
  • Wash the cleanest areas of her body and work towards the dirtiest. That way the washcloth and the water will stay clean.
  • Use one washcloth for soaping and another for rinsing.
  • Shampoo her head. Make sure to massage her scalp and rinse thoroughly. Shampooing her head will help to prevent cradle cap. Cradle cap comes from body oils and old skin that builds up on the head.
  • After washing her head, move to her face. You won’t need to use soap on her face. Instead, you can use a soft wet washcloth to clean her eyes, moving from the nose outward.
  • Pat her face gently dry before moving to the neck and chest – again you don’t need soap unless the baby is very sweaty.
  • Wash the arms, back and legs. Make sure to get into the creases, which tend to get dirtier. It is important to clean in the creases every time. Babies are likely to get rashes there.
  • The last area washed should be the diaper area. Saving it for last will make sure any germs from that area won’t be spread to other parts of her body.
  • Never leave a child alone in a tub, no matter what age. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

Changing Diapers

As a parent, you’re going to be changing a lot of diapers, and safety is very important here, too. Make sure you never turn your back or leave your baby on a changing surface alone – even for a second. An infant can roll right off and be seriously hurt. Try to keep a hand on the baby at all time. And when she starts to reach, make sure your baby can’t get at the changing supplies. Infants have died from inhaling baby powder. Give her a toy to occupy her hands. Hand washing is important after changing and disposing of diapers. That way, you help limit the spread of germs.

—- from First5 Advice for New Parents

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