EXPERT Q&A

How do you bathe a newborn?

Bathing your newborn for the first time may seem a little intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Here are some steps to help you through the process and to make bath time enjoyable for both you and your little one.

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Question

I’m extremely nervous about bathing my newborn, especially for the first time. Do you have any guidance or tips that can help ease the process and calm my nerves?

Answer

Most babies will get their very first sponge bath from the nurses in the hospital delivery room. But once you get your baby home, you are on your own for bath time. This can be intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Here are some tips to help ease your fears and make bath time enjoyable for both parent and baby.

  1. Be prepared. It’s best to have all of you bath supplies before you begin. This way you don’t have to leave your baby unattended for even a moment to grab something you need. You will want to have a gentle baby body wash or shampoo, washcloths, a towel, cotton balls, a diaper, lotion, and a change of clothing.
  2. Clean your baby’s face and ears. I’ve found that it’s easier to wash a baby’s face and clean their ears before you place them in the water. This way, you won’t have to hold the baby up in the water while doing so. Use a new, damp washcloth or cotton ball to clean around the nose, eyes, and mouth. You will not need to use soap quite yet. Then clean the outside of the baby’s ears with a clean washcloth or cotton swab. Remember that it is dangerous to clean inside of their ears, as you can accidentally puncture an eardrum.
  3. Fill the tub and check the water’s temperature. At this time, you will want to fill the infant bathtub with just a few inches of water. Be sure to check the temperature of the water. You can use your wrist to be sure the water is warm and not hot.
  4. Wash your baby’s hair and body. Add water and a bit of gentle baby shampoo to the baby’s head, lather, give a gentle scrub, and rinse with a washcloth. You can then dry their head and hair with a towel. Once the hair is washed, start focusing on parts of the body. Be sure to wash the neck and in between folds of skin. Rinse the soap off and wrap your baby in a towel. Baby’s get cold easily, so you’ll want to do this quickly but safely.
  5. Apply lotion. You can use a gentle, unscented lotion on your baby’s skin after their bath, but not every baby will need this. Many babies have enough natural oil in their skin that they don’t require lotion after a bath. If you notice your baby has dry skin, apply lotion within a few minutes of getting them out of the water to seal in the moisture. Add their diaper and a cute outfit, and you’re done. Then it’s time to enjoy your baby cuddles!

The key safety rule with bath time is to never leave your baby unattended in the bathroom. Accidental bathtub drownings are far too common, so even if you think your baby is securely propped up, be sure to never leave them alone. To learn more about bathroom water safety for your baby, read more from Nemours Children’s Health.

We hope this guidance helps, and remember, the CareNectar team is here for you!

Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.