How to bathe your newborn baby

Did you know that unlike toddlers, newborn babies do not require to be bathed as often. This is because newborn babies have sensitive skin and they easily get irritated when their skin is left exposed. Additionally, when the umbilical cord is still attached it is best to only give your baby just a sponge bath. Being extra careful helps avoid accidents that can injure your newborn baby.

Sponge bathing a baby

Sponge bathing a baby

The first three weeks, it is best to only sponge bath your baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, the umbilical cord typically remains attached for a maximum of three weeks. It is best to wait until the umbilical cord detaches before submerging babies in water. If after three weeks the umbilical cord does not fall, seek medical assistance from your pediatrician.


Start by gathering all the necessary supplies and lay them out so that they are easily accessible. This kind of bath is best done in a warm place such as a bathroom or kitchen counter. If the room is not warm enough, a thick blanket laid out on the floor will come in handy. Use either a soft towel or changing pad so that the baby comfortably lies on their back as you sponge bath them. A shallow plastic basin or sink will help hold the water. The actual bathing will be done using cotton balls, clean diaper, baby wipes, baby soap and silky soft wash cloth.

It is best to wait until the umbilical cord detaches before submerging babies in water

Time to bath baby

Once you have all the supplies in place, it is time to bathe your bundle of joy. Here are tips on how to sponge bath them safely and effectively:

  • One hand on your baby to give them adequate support as babies do not have much control over their movements.
  • Start by undressing the baby and then wrapping them snugly in a towel. Lay the baby down on their back either on a towel or blanket
  • Begin with the face by simply wetting a towel and wringing it out. It is advisable not to use soap on the face as the last thin g you want is to get soap into the baby’s eyes. Gently wipe your baby’s eyelids using a damp cotton cloth. This will help get rid of any accumulated residue or crust.
  • You can either use plain water or a baby-safe soap on the rest of the body. It is best to use a moisturizing soap. Be gentle and thorough especially when washing ears, underarms, toes and fingers.

Be gentle and thorough especially when washing ears, underarms, toes and fingers.


Finally! The umbilical cord stump has fallen off, it is time to finally bathe your bundle of joy in a sink or tub. It is important to choose a shallow sink or tub to ensure safety. The great news is that there are many free standing plastic tubs specifically designed for this purpose. Alternatively there are also inflatable tubs that can serve the same purpose. If you go with the latter option, line the sink or bathtub with a rubber mat to avoid slipping. Whether you are using a tub or baby basin, only fill it with a maximum of three inches of lukewarm water.


Tips on how to safely hold your newborn in the tub

You want to ensure that your little goober is safe in the tub. This means holding them comfortably so that they do not fuss and move around too much. The hold should be firm but not tight so that the baby does not feel uncomfortable. Your ram is best used to support the baby’s torso and head, while the other hand will be used to do the actual washing.

how to safely hold your newborn in the tub

You can easily do this by simply wrapping arms gently around your little ones back. Finally, when you want to wash the buttocks and back, shift the baby so that they lean forward on your arm


Washing the baby

Keep in mind that the bath should not take long than 15 minutes. Start by undressing the baby then wash their face and eyes gently using soap-free damp cotton or soft cloth. Be thorough but gentle when wiping the eyelids. In case your baby had soiled the diaper, clear and clean their bottom and genitals before putting the baby in water. Gently pour the lukewarm water over the baby during bath so that they remain warm.

washing your baby’s hair

When washing your baby’s hair gently massage baby shampoo into the scalp and then rinse it off using washcloth. To prevent soap from getting into the baby’s, eyes gently cup your hand over your little goobers forehead. Once you are done cleaning your baby, quickly remove them from the tub and warp them in a dry and warm towel then dress them in clean clothes.






Check the temperature of the water

checking temperature of baby water using thermometerIt is important to ensure that the water is not cold or too hot for the baby. It is advisable to invest in a thermometer to ensure the water is safe and comfortable for a newborn.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your elbow to test the temperature of the water. Keep in mind that the ideal temperature is 98°F (36.6°C).

Use the right lotions and soaps

Baby-Skin-CareBabies have sensitive skin therefore you must use soaps and lotions that are not too drying.  To be on the safe side avoid bubble baths and scented soaps as they can be both irritating and drying to a newborn’s skin. If you opt for lotion, go for one that is hypoallergenic since your baby may have allergies you don’t know about.


Never leave your little one unattended in a bathtub or bathing basin. It is extremely risky.


Mandy Wright
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