How to Bathe a Baby: Quick Summary
- Fill a baby bath with approximately 5 cm (2 in) of warm (37°C) water. Use a baby bath thermometer to get the temp right.
- Cradle your baby’s head and gently lower into the baby bath.
- Wash baby with a wet cloth and natural shampoo or cleanser. Wash and rinse baby’s hair last to prevent baby from getting cold. For toddlers with tangled hair, you can use conditioner or detangler, too.
- Wrap her in a hooded towel and pat to dry.
- Put on a fresh diaper and dress your baby immediately, or after a quick massage with baby lotion. Many families like to follow up with a favorite baby book.
Our Easy Guide to Bathing a Baby
Bringing your newborn baby home for the first time is one of the most wonderful feelings on earth.
But for first time parents, it can often be daunting as well.
Once you leave the comfort of the hospital, you no longer have around-the-clock nurses or midwives to help. And the most simple tasks of caring for baby can seem daunting.
Giving your baby a bath doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but learning how to bathe a baby safely and effectively can take some practice.
After countless baby bath times with my own 4 children, I would love to share my baby bath time tips with you.
How to Bathe a Baby: Printable Instructions
Bathing a baby needn't be daunting. If you're wondering how to give your baby a bath, we've broken it down into easy-to-follow steps.
- 2 washcloths
- 1 large towel
- 1 hooded baby bath tower
- Gentle, non-toxic baby soap/shampoo
- Clean clothes or pyjamas for your baby
- A clean diaper
- Baby bath thermometer
- Baby bathtub
- Shampoo rinse cup
- Get Organized - Gather all the equipment you'll need for baby’s bath, and put it within arms' reach of your baby's bathtub. Ensure the room is warm and free of drafts.
- Ensure a Distraction Free Bath - Take your phone off the hook so you're not tempted if it rings. Baby's need 100% supervision in the bath.
- Prepare the Bathtub - Place the bathtub on the floor and fill the baby bathtub with 5 cm of 37°C water (just under 2 inches of 98.6°F water). Check the temperature with a baby bath thermometer or your inner wrist.
- Wash Your Baby's Face - Fold a towel in half and lay it next to the bath. Place a hooded towel on top, and lay your baby down on top. Using a washcloth dipped in warm bath water, wash your baby's face, eye area, nose and behind the ears before putting her into the bath tub.
- Undress Your Baby - Get your baby undressed, leaving his diaper until last.
- Place Your Baby in the Bath - Cradle your baby’s head with your arm and gently lower baby into the bath. Use your free hand to wipe baby with a warm, wet washcloth. Pay particular attention to creases and folds, and wash the genitals last (but before hair washing).
- Wash her Back and Bottom - Once you're confident enough, you can flip baby over in the bath, with her chin resting on your forearm. Let her to kick and enjoy some "swimming" as you wipe her back and bottom. Just ensure you keep your baby's mouth and nose well clear of the water.
- Wash Your Baby's Hair - If needed, wash your baby's hair last, just before getting her out of the tub. Use a clean washcloth to wet your baby's hair and rub a small amount of shampoo over his head. Use the washcloth to rinse most of the shampoo off. Support your baby's head in your arm, gently tip him back, and use a shampoo rinse cup to rinse any remaining shampoo.
- Dry Your Baby - Remove your baby from the bathtub and immediately wrap in a hooded towel, pulling the towel over his hair. Pat dry your baby, paying attention to her head and any folds or creases where water might hide.
- Diaper and Dress Your Baby - Put a clean diaper on your baby and get him dressed so he doesn't get cold.
- Empty the Bath Immediately - Place your baby somewhere safe, such as a crib or with your partner, and empty the bathwater immediately.
Developing safe bath time habits is essential to prevent injury or death. Don't fill the tub with too much water and ensure you give your baby 100% of your attention and ensure they are 100% supervised 100% of the time.
Bathing a Baby FAQs: All Your Questions Answered
How Often to Bathe a Baby
Babies only really need a bath two to three times per week. Baby skin is soft and rich with natural oils, and bathing them too often can dry out their skin.
Add to that, very young babies who aren’t self-feeding and exploring yet don’t get much of a chance to get really dirty. You can keep baby’s genitals clean during each diaper change using only warm water or water wipes. In between bath days, give baby’s face, neck, and hands a gentle wash with warm water and a wash cloth.
If you’d prefer to do so, it’s okay to wash your baby daily.
Whatever works best for you and your baby.
Some babies absolutely love bath time and it can be a great tool to soothe and settle you baby before bedtime. For parents, this one on one time is a fantastic way to bond with your baby, and to start working out a bit of a routine, including other baby care tasks like clipping your baby’s nails.
When to Bathe Your Baby
The best time to bath your baby is when it suits both of you.
Many families choose to give their baby an evening bath, just before putting baby down to bed. This can work well for everyone, as it can calm and relax your baby before sleep.
If you prefer to give your baby a bath during the day, mid-morning might suit you best. Your baby is likely to be awake and alert then, creating a great opportunity for smiles and coos!
Don’t bathe your baby when she is hungry or tired, and if she’s just eaten, give her a chance to “empty out” before bathing, lest you get a poop in the bath tub.
Likewise, if you’re distracted, skip bath time. Only give your baby a bath when you can commit your full attention to it – this is a bathroom safety must.
When my kids were babies, I gave them baths around mid-morning: just after they awoke from a nap and weren’t yet hungry. The other kids were at school and Dad was at work, so it was a beautiful, peaceful, and special bonding time. And I used the time to clip nails after the bath, too, or swapped for a soothing oatmeal bath or milk bath as needed to calm itchy infant skin.
As your baby grows, he may enjoy sharing bath time with mom, dad or siblings.
How Long Should a Baby Bath Be
Babies only need a five to 10 minute bath. They do not like to soak in the tub, and it can be detrimental to their sensitive skin.
Older babies and toddlers may want a slightly longer bath, especially if you’ve supplied them with a selection of bath toys to play with, have favorite bath games, or have whipped up some DIY bath paint, bubble dough, or bubble bath.
Where to Bathe Your Baby
Until your baby transitions to the big tub, you can bathe your baby anywhere that is comfortable – it doesn’t have to be in the bathroom. However, there are a few criteria needed for a successful baby bath time.
Choose a room that’s temperature controlled and free from drafts – you want to keep your baby nice and warm!
You’ll also want to be sure you have enough space and lighting, and aren’t concerned if things get a bit wet outside the bathtub. If you’re concerned about a slippery floor, you may want to lay down a non toxic bath mat as a safety precaution.
If you had a C-section and are still recovering, choose a non toxic baby bathtub you can use in the sink, such as the puj tub or Shnuggle. If you’re using a full-size baby bathtub, place it on the floor and kneel beside the tub.
Once your baby is older and you switch to the full-size bathtub, get a bathtub spout cover as an additional safety measure.
Final Thoughts About Bathing a Baby
Baby bath time seems daunting at first, but can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it, and your baby knows what to expect.
I hope you enjoyed these tips – understanding how to bathe your baby will make the experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Please share your own experiences in the comments and share this article with your friends and family who are expecting or enjoying life with a new baby.