Bathing a newborn baby is often one of the scariest tasks for a new mother. Most babies will cry when they are bathed, and the experience can be nerve-wracking. Newborn babies should only be sponge-bathed until the umbilical cord stump falls off, but after that, you should bathe them several times per week. You can bathe a baby in a sink, in a special baby bath, or in the regular bathtub, and there are many methods for doing so. Here’s how to bathe a newborn baby:
- Soft towel
- Baby tub, bathtub, or sink
- Soft washcloth
- Mild baby soap (optional)
- Baby shampoo (optional)
- Gather everything you’ll need. Besides the obvious bathtime needs, you’ll also want to get a diaper and a fresh change of clothes so that you can clothe your baby as soon as the bath is over.
- Prepare to begin the bath. The room where you are bathing a newborn baby should be nice and warm, around 72 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, so that the air doesn’t feel cold on their skin. A small towel should be laid on tub or sink bottom so that it isn’t slippery for the baby. It is generally only considered safe to bathe a newborn baby in a tub only after the umbilical cord stump has fallen off.
- Run the bath water. Aim for a maximum temperature of 90 degrees; anything warmer can be uncomfortable for the baby. Test the water using your elbow, which is more heat-sensitive than your hand. You only need the water to be two or three inches deep.
- Place the baby in the water. Always support a newborn baby by placing one hand around them until they can sit up by themselves. Never leave a baby alone near water, even for a second.
- Bathe the newborn baby. Clean the outside of each ear with a Q-tip. Use a soft washcloth starting with the face, moving down your baby’s body. Save cleaning the bottom for last. Soap is not necessary when bathing a newborn baby; if you do use soap, make sure that to use a mild, tear-free formula that is designed for babies.
- Wash the baby’s hair. Washing the top of the head with the washcloth can help prevent cradle cap. Most newborn babies don’t need baby shampoo, but for older babies or those with a substantial amount of hair, apply just a drop of no-tears baby shampoo. Gently massage the scalp, and then remove all traces of the shampoo using a wet washcloth.
- Dry your baby. Pat the baby dry; do not rub, because a baby’s skin is very delicate. Rubbing too much can irritate this sensitive skin. Make sure to dry in between the fingers and toes, and don’t forget about under the chin and behind the ears. Put on a fresh diaper and a clean change of clothes.
Bathing a newborn baby every two or three days is usually plenty as long as you always clean your baby’s diaper area well. Spot cleaning the diaper area, face, neck, and skin creases between baths can help keep your baby clean.