How To Bathe a Newborn Baby

You’re a mom now, congrats! For many new moms, having an infant is both exhilarating and terrifying: you’re in awe, but you might also be a little unsure as to how to care for such a tiny baby. And one area where many moms feel uneasy is baby’s first bath.

Newborns don’t need frequent baths. In fact, bathing them every day risks drying out their skin. Plus, until your baby’s umbilical stump dries up and falls off, you’ll want to avoid immersing your baby in water. A sponge bath once or twice a week is all your newborn needs right now.

Giving a newborn a sponge bath can seem daunting at first. But not to worry, you can do this, mama! We have a step by step guide here to help baby’s first bath go smoothly. Take a minute to read through these instructions and gather your supplies. You might find it helpful to have your partner or other adult at your side when you give baby a bath. It’s always good to have another set of hands close by when it comes to a squirmy baby! Plus, they can be your runner in case you forgot to grab any essential supplies.

Follow these step by step instructions for a stress-free baby bathtime.

Baby’s First Bath: How to Give a Baby a Sponge Bath

  1. Choose a location in your home for the bath. Your baby won’t be immersed so it’s not necessary to do it in the bathroom; instead pick a place where you can safely lie your baby down flat, like on a changing table, your bed, or the couch. Then warm up the room, to a toasty 75-80 degrees for your baby’s comfort. Spread out a large towel.
  2. Gather everything you need. You’ll want a hooded towel, a small hand towel, several baby washcloths, gentle baby shampoo or baby wash, diapers, baby lotion and baby powder, a new outfit for baby, a bowl or basin, a pour cup, and a baby bath thermometer.
  3. Fill the bowl or basin with a little warm water. It should be between 90 and 100 degrees. You can use a baby bath thermometer to test it, and also feel it by dipping your wrist or elbow into the water. The water should feel warm, not hot. Place the water within arm’s reach of the bath location.
  4. Now it’s time to start! Undress your baby except for his diaper, and wrap him in the hooded towel. Lie your baby down on the large towel. Keep one hand on your baby at all times.
  5. Dampen a washcloth with water only, and gently wipe one eye from the inner corner to the outer corner. Repeat on the other eye, using a fresh washcloth. Then use a different washcloth to wash baby’s face, around her ears, and under her chin and neck. It’s ok to use a little baby wash on the face, just avoid baby’s eyes and mouth. Gently pat baby’s face dry with the hand towel.

    New moms can feel unsure about giving baby’s first bath, but these step by step instructions can help them feel confident.
  6. Carefully wipe the rest of baby’s body with a washcloth and a little baby wash, moving from the neck down and uncovering only the area you are cleaning. Wash baby’s arms and legs, chest and back, and in between the fingers and toes. Clean around the umbilical stump, keeping the cord dry. Pat each area dry after you’re finished.
  7. Remove baby’s diaper and gently clean the diaper area with fresh damp washcloth. If you have a baby girl, wipe from front to back. Take care with circumcised boys; there’s no need to push back the foreskin of uncircumcised boys. After you’ve washed and rinsed baby’s bottom, pat dry with a towel and put on a fresh diaper.
  8. Now’s a good time to give your baby a soothing massage. Infant massage can help with baby’s neurological function, sleep patterns, and more. Plus, it facilitates bonding while alleviating baby’s tummy troubles. If you’re using baby lotion, warm up a little in your hands before you apply.

    How to Massage Your Newborn Baby

  9. Finally, it’s time to wash baby’s scalp and hair. Cradle your baby over the basin and use the pour cup to slowly wet your baby’s head. Add a nickel-sized amount of shampoo and gently massage baby’s scalp. You’ll feel baby’s soft spots, which are safe to touch. Slowly pour water over baby’s head to rinse away the shampoo. Use the towel’s hood to pat baby’s head dry.
  10. After you get your baby dressed, you might use a baby brush to gently comb your baby’s hair if s/he has any. Then hold your little one close, breathe in that sweet newborn smell, and congratulate yourself on a job well done, mama!