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Caring For Your
Newborn Baby

Taking Care of Your Newborn

Washing Your Baby

You might feel a little uncertain the first time you bathe your baby. But don't worry: you'll quickly become more skilled and confident!

How often?

Give your baby a full hair and body wash every two to three days.

Wash head first or last at bath time to prevent heat loss. Clean baby’s face and genitals daily.

Your healthcare provider might tell you to sponge bath your baby until his umbilical cord is healed, but you can give your baby a tub bath as well.

Wash the umbilical cord area (cord stump) with water when you bathe your baby. After each bath it's important to pat the area dry with a clean towel or leave it open to air-dry.

Washing/bathing supplies

Wash your baby's scalp, even the soft spots, so that blood can circulate. This helps prevent cradle cap.

  • Get all your supplies ready beforehand, so everything you need is within reach.
  • If you need to leave the room, wrap your baby in a towel and take him/her with you.

Before you begin, gather/prepare the following:

  • A soft, clean washcloth or sponge
  • Mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
  • An infant tub with two to three inches of warm water. Don't use adult tubs, bath seats or tub rings. They're not safe for infants.
  • A small container of clean, warm water (for rinsing baby's hair.)
  • Baby lotion (used after bath to prevent dry skin.)
  • A soft brush or comb to stimulate baby's scalp.
  • Towels or blankets.
  • Clean diapers.
  • Clean clothes.

Right water temperature

water temperature test

Your baby's bath water should be warm - not hot - to touch.

When filling the tub, start and end with cold water to let the warmer water cool down.

Test the water temperature with you inner wrist or elbow before putting your baby in the tub.

Ways to wash your baby's body

You can give your baby a sponge bath or a tub bath.

Watch a short video on how to tub bath and sponge bath your baby.

Source: Credit Valley Hospital

Before you start:

  1. Choose an area where you'll be comfortable washing your baby. The area should be draft-free and away from open windows and vents blowing cool air.
  2. Make sure your bath supplies are in reach. (Keeping everything in a basket is very helpful.)

Remember to never leave your baby alone while you're preparing!

Giving your baby a sponge bath

Lay your baby on a towel. Undress him, then cover him up with another towel or blanket, exposing only the area you are washing.

Tub washing baby's face

Sponging baby's eyes and face

  1. Start with his eyes.

    Using only warm water on a clean corner of a washcloth, wash from the inner corner to the outer edge of the eye.

    Wash the other eye, using another corner of the washcloth.

  2. Wash your baby's face with clean water, using either a washcloth or your hand.

  3. Wash around his nose and ears. Never insert a cotton swab into your baby's nose or ears. Doing so might damage his nasal cavity or eardrum.

sponging baby's bodySponging baby's body

  • Sponge your baby's body, making sure you get into every skin fold and crease.

Sponging baby's genitals

  1. Check your baby's umbilical cord for proper healing, then cleanse the area with clean, warm water.

  2. Sponge baby's genitals with clean water.
  • sponging baby's genitalsBaby girls will have some discharge and even a small amount of blood. Always wash from front to back so you don't spread germs into her bladder.
  • If your baby boy is circumcised, clean his penis with only clean, warm water until the area is healed. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how to care for his penis before you leave the hospital.
  • If your baby boy isn't circumcised, don't force his foreskin back to clean his penis. Only warm water and soap is needed.
  1. If your baby has a soiled diaper, use a clean corner of the diaper to wipe away the stool (poop). Then use a sponge or washcloth with warm water to wash your baby's bottom thoroughly.Baby in tub

Giving your baby a tub bath

Filling the tub

  1. Fill your baby bathtub with two inches of warm water.
  2. Undress your baby, then gently place him in the bathtub once the water reaches the right temperature.

Tub bath: washing baby's face

Tub bath: washing baby's body

Tub bath: washing baby's genitals

Washing your baby's hair

  • To wash his hair, save a little container of clean water.
  • Wrap him in a towel and place him in a "football" hold.
  • Pour some of the clean water over his scalp.
  • washing baby's hairPlace a small amount of shampoo on the scalp and wash making sure you rub the entire scalp even over the soft spots.

After the bath

  • Once you've washed your baby from head to toe, pat him completely dry with a towel.
  • Use an unscented moisturizing lotion to soothe and moisturize your baby's skin. (A baby's skin is very delicate and may be very sensitive to certain lotions or products with lots of perfume.)
  • Put on a clean diaper and dress him in clean clothes.

More washing/bathing your baby information

Nemours’ KidsHealth

At the Hospital | Preparing For Baby | The First Few Days | What Your Newborn Will Look Like
Taking Care of Your Newborn | Taking Care of You and Your Partner

Revised: Thursday February 21 2019

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