How to Bathe a Newborn or Infant: Baby's Bath Guide

Posted by Soteri Staff on

Bathing your baby can help prevent dry skin and keep them clean. However, you don’t just want to plop your child in the tub and hope for the best. You must keep some things in mind to give your baby the best bath experience possible. 

Read this guide from Soteri Skin to learn how to bathe a newborn or infant. 

Related: Shea Butter: Benefits and Uses 

When to Give Baby’s First Bath

It was previously the norm for hospital staff members to give babies baths almost immediately after birth. However, this is no longer the case. Now, the medical community generally recommends waiting at least a few hours, if not more, before giving your baby their first bath. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting 24 hours, as research shows there may be significant emotional and physical benefits to delaying the first bath. Newborn babies are sensitive to cold, and studies show that delaying a baby’s first bath can decrease rates of hypoglycemia and hypothermia. They are born with a waxy coating on their skin that can help retain heat. This coating, known as vernix, is not something you want to wash off immediately

If those aren’t enough reasons to delay the first bath, a 2013 study found that waiting to bathe a baby until at least 12 hours after birth led to increased breastfeeding success rates. 

If you choose to follow these guidelines, you may end up giving your baby its first bath at home, as you’ve likely checked out of the hospital by then. There is no set timeline for when you need to give your baby its first bath, so don’t feel rushed. Many parents wait 2-3 weeks before the first bath. Just make sure to clean your baby’s diaper area thoroughly. 


Related: What is My Skin Type? 

Baby with towel on head

 

How to Bathe a Newborn

Follow these steps to bathe your newborn:

  1. If you’re not using an infant tub, place a non-slip bath mat in your regular tub. 
  2. Fill your tub with 2-3 inches of warm water (around 90 degrees). Please note that the water should be warm, not hot. 
  3. Keep your baby’s head supported at all times, and gently lower your baby into the tub. 
  4. Keep your baby covered with a warm washcloth during the entire bath, as babies can lose heat quickly. 
  5. Give your baby a good wipe down using a soft washcloth, while paying special attention to the creases in the arms, around the neck, and behind the ears. You can apply soap and shampoo to the washcloth, but it’s unnecessary at this age. 
  6. Once finished, wrap your baby in a warm towel. 

Click here to learn about the ingredients you should avoid if you have sensitive skin! 

How to sponge bathe a newborn

You’ll need to give your child sponge baths until their umbilical cord stump has healed. Sponge baths are also necessary if your baby’s circumcision hasn’t healed. Here’s what you need to do to sponge-bathe a newborn:

  1. If you’re not using an infant tub, place a non-slip bath mat in your regular tub. 
  2. Fill your tub with 2-3 inches of warm water (around 90 degrees). Please note that the water should be warm, not hot. 
  3. Keep your baby’s head supported at all times, and gently lower your baby into the tub. 
  4. Keep your baby covered with a warm washcloth during the entire bath, as babies can lose heat quickly. 
  5. Give your baby a good wipe down using a soft bath sponge, starting with the face and moving to the body, taking special care around the umbilical cord. 
  6. Don’t forget to wrap your baby in warm, clean towel after the bath.

 

Baby in bathtub

 

When should a newborn have his first bath?

We suggest giving your newborn its first bath 2-3 weeks after coming home from the hospital. However, if you wait a little longer, it’s not the end of the world. 

There are no strict guidelines for bathing your newborn. Newborns don’t get very dirty, so you don’t need to bathe them as often. You should bathe your newborn at most every 2-3 days but generally should aim for every 1-3 weeks. 

Of course, you must keep up with cleaning your baby’s diaper area, as that can get dirty and smelly very quickly! 

In addition to choosing a suitable date, you also want to make sure you pick the right time of day. You can technically bathe your child at any time of the day, but it’s usually best to select a time when your baby is relaxed. You also want to choose a moment when you won’t be interrupted and tempted to hurry. 

Some parents like to bathe their babies in the morning, as they’re more awake and alert. However, a nighttime bath can be an enjoyable part of your baby’s bedtime routine. Whatever time of day you choose, ensure you avoid bathing your newborn right after feeding, as you want your baby’s food to be settled. 

Additionally, you want to wait until your baby’s umbilical cord stump has fallen off before you give them a bath in a tub (a sponge bath before this is fine). 

Should I use baby oil or lotion on my newborn?

Applying baby oil or lotion is unnecessary, as babies have naturally smooth, supple skin. However, cream is helpful if your baby suffers from extra dry skin or eczema

Click here to discover Soteri Skin’s eczema cream, formulated specifically for babies! 

Conclusion 

Now that you know how to bathe your newborn, it’s time to give your baby its first bath. As you can see, bathing your newborn is a simple process and will result in a memorable experience for you as a parent! 

Related: Home Remedies for Dry Skin

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