When & How to Bathe a Newborn baby

Newborns are fragile, and you will think that you can’t hold them still while bathing. They may also create a lot of fuss when you remove their clothes and bathe them because they don’t like being disturbed. So yes, your worries are not futile. Babies do make you feel bad during bathing. Especially, new moms will face this difficult situation often as it is their first experience.

Here, you can find out your answer for ‘how to bathe a newborn?’ The step by step process will be helpful for handling your baby and bathing her, but the best way is to know your baby and her moods because that’s how you can predict the best timing for her bath.

When to Bathe Newborns?

It’s never wise to dip your baby in water during first three weeks. That is because her umbilical cord falls after three weeks. If your child is circumcised, you should wait until he heals. Try sponge bath until that time, to clean up your baby but remember not to bathe her every day as too much water can damage her skin. Mostly, face, neck and diaper area needs cleaning which can be done by wipes or a burp cloth without giving a bath.

How to Give Your Baby a Sponge Bath?

Until your baby can’t get a tub bath, you can clean her up with a sponge bath. You have to prepare everything before disturbing your baby because once you take her clothes off, she won’t let you do anything. Thus, make all the preparations first.

Give Baby a Sponge Bath

Prepare for Bath Time:

These are some of the things you should do before a sponge bath:
Find a warm place for bathing and spread the changing pad there.
Bring everything you need for bathing her, like towels, wipes, a basin to keep water in, washcloth, cotton balls, soap, etc.
Keep clean clothes nearby which you have to use after a bath.
Now take your baby’s clothes off and put her on the pad before you. Make sure to close all the windows and doors of the room so she won’t get cold.

Bath Time:

After undressing your baby, follow the step by step guide provided below to make your baby clean:
Clean the face: Clean each eye with a corner of clean washcloth or cotton ball, moving from inner to the outer edge of each eye. Then, clean nose and mouth with separate clean corners of a washcloth.
Wash the hair: Take pea size amount of soap or shampoo and wash baby’s hair with gentle massaging motions, especially over fontanelles. Now, wet the washcloth (leaving a little water in it) and squeeze it over baby’s scalp.
Wash neck and ears: Clean the neck and ears with washcloth or cotton ball. Clean gently behind and around the ears. Use soap to wash the milk collected behind ears and in the creases of the neck.
Wash the abdominal region: Clean the belly, underarms and hands of your baby. Carefully clean inside the skin folds and creases, so that no dirt remains on the body. Use wipes to clean around the edges of the umbilical cord.
Clean the Back: Use your dominant hand to move the baby to her side. Leaving your hand there for support, wash her back with your other free hand. Dry the upper body and cover it with a towel.
Clean the hip region: Now, clean the hip, legs, and feet of your baby. Use big, gentle motions for washing and drying these regions.
Wash the genitals: Wash the genital area from front to back. For girls, open the vulva with thumb and index finger and clean it up with another hand, using a cloth. For boys, only clean outside of the penis. Do not pull back the foreskin when the penis is uncircumcised. If circumcised, use a cotton ball dipped in warm water, lift his testicles and clean.
Clean the buttocks region: Wash the buttocks with a motion away from the genital area. Rinse the region and pat it dry.
Dress up your baby: Wrap the baby in a warm, dry towel and dry her up. Then, immediately put on the clothes to prevent her from getting cold.

How to Give Your Baby a Tub Bath?

Once your child’s umbilical cord falls, you can give her the tub bath. Make all the preparations and then bathe your baby to prevent the fuss before bath.

Baby in a Tub Bath

Prepare for Bath Time:

Remember to make following arrangements before taking your baby to the tub:
Find a warm place for a bath. Keep all the windows and doors closed wherever you choose to give her a bath. The kitchen sink is usually better in initial weeks, as babies are fragile and difficult to handle in the bathroom.
During early months, you can use kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub to prevent your baby from drowning.
Put all the necessary things like towels, soap, shampoo, baby clothes etc., near the bathtub.
Wash your hands before bath. Then, fill the tub with almost 13cm (5 inches) of lukewarm water, just enough to settle your baby shoulder deep in the water.
It is usually better to put cold water in the tub before adding hot water. Then mix the water to make it warm.

Bath Time:

Now, undress your baby and make her clean. Here are some of the steps to follow while bathing her:

Wash the head:

Undress the baby down to nappy and wrap her in a towel. Keep the head uncovered to wash the head and face. Wash eyes first, then ears, face, and neck using the same method as in sponge bath. Now, hold her in such a way that her head is over the tub, then massage her scalp by hand or a flannel. You can also use a little bit of shampoo to wash her hair.
Put baby in the tub: Remove her nappy and check for the poo in it. Clean her genitals and bottom before putting her in the tub if the diaper is dirty. Now, slip her in the tub shoulder deep, feet first, using one hand to support her head and neck.
Clean all essential parts thoroughly: Wash her body with water or a baby cleanser (if prescribed safely to use by the doctor). Clean all the creases thoroughly and make her body clean. Use your hand, sponge or flannel to wash her from top to bottom, the front and back. Avoid scrubbing as it will damage the skin. Rinse thoroughly to remove the soap or cleanser from the body.

Wrap her in the towel:

After cleaning her, lift her out of the tub and then straight to the towel. Wrap her in the towel, pat her dry and then put the nappy on. Wrap her again and cuddle her for 10 minutes to keep her warm.

happy newborn baby

Dress her up:

Now dress her up in clean clothes. Newborns lose body heat rapidly, so it’s better to wrap them in a dry and warm blanket in addition to the clothes’ layer, depending on the type of weather. Feed her and keep her cozy.


Take following cautions during bath time as your little one can be endangered because of your carelessness:
Check the temperature of water by dipping your elbow in it before putting your baby in the tub to see if it is not too hot for her. Use the digital thermometer if available and keep the temperature between 37 to 38°C.
Use the soaps that are labeled safe to use for babies. Do not use scented soaps as they may damage the skin and cause allergy. Lotions used should also be hypoallergenic.
Do not leave your baby alone in the tub, even for a few seconds because babies can even drown in 3 cm of water. Prepare everything beforehand and also; you can ask someone to help you with the baby while bathing her.
Use a nonskid mat beneath the tub, so it does not slip.
Never use a bathing seat because its suction cups can become loose when your baby moves and the chair may fall.

You have to be calm and confident before and during the bath. For the first few times, the baby will make a lot of fuss as this is something new for both of you. Gradually, you will learn how to handle the baby, and she may also begin to love her bath time. All you need is practice and confidence, so don’t worry and make this bath time enjoyable for yourself and your baby as well.

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