Your newborn is so little and fragile. Beacuse of this, it is completely normal to ask the question “how to bathe a newborn?” I know I did as a first-time mom! Here is your guide for how to bathe a newborn step-by-step!

How often to bathe your newborn?

Bathing your newborn isn’t as difficult as it may seem. One of the first things you probably want to know is how often to bathe your newborn. While we all bathe every day, giving your newborn daily baths isn’t necessary until baby is more active and on the ground more often! Actually, bathing your newborn daily can lead to dry skin and other issues. Their skin is so gentle and is adjusting to this brand new, dry environment! Try bathing your baby every other day or even doing a sponge bath on the second day and a full bath every three days!

Can a newborn have a bath before the umbilical cord falls off?

Besides how often to bathe your newborn, what about bathing before the umbilical cord falls off? This is a great question, but it is actually completely safe to bathe your newborn while the cord is still attached. Just be sure to not scrub the cord, be gentle with it and allow it to fall off all on its own. There is no research saying it is unsafe to bathe your newborn with the umbilical cord still attached and won’t increase their risk for infection or anything like that!

What if baby boy is circumcised?

Most doctors still allow circumcised babies to take baths but recommend waiting two days after the surgery. On the other hand, some like to wait until the bandage has come off on its own before doing a full bath. Check with your pediatrician to be sure, and make sure the water isn’t too warm.

Benefits of bathing your newborn?

Besides the obvious of keeping your baby clean and healthy, bath time has lots of important benefits for your new little one! 

  • Can encourage sleep- baths can be an excellent part of your bedtime routine with your newborn
  • Encourages bonding between baby and parent- This part of the day can quickly become a highlight for you and your baby. There are no distractions, just one-on-one, face-to-face time. Cue photo-op time (have someone else do this while you keep your hand on baby at all times!)
  • Can soothe a fussy baby- warm bath water has a calming and soothing effect for us all. It can also help calm an upset tummy and encourage baby’s muscles to relax allowing gas to pass and making for a happier little one!
  • So much to learn- your newborn will find the face to face time and sensation of water tickling their tummy to be a fun time with mama and dad while they are learning all at the same time. This stimulation will get your little newborn all excited and they learn so much during bath time!
  • Excellent way to heal diaper rashes- getting baby’s diaper off and keeping baby clean with water instead of wiping is a great way to heal and protect baby’s bum during nasty diaper rashes.

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Giving your Newborn a Sponge Bath

This is a quick bath without putting your baby into a tub of water!

1. Gather all supplies: fresh change of clothes, a new diaper, 2 soft washcloths, a bowl of warm water, a towel, a cotton ball, a mild baby soap, and a mild baby moisturizer.

2. Make sure you are not in a place with drafts and place them on their baby towel. Undress them and wrap them in their towel.

3. Dip the cotton ball into a little bit of water with a dot of tearless, gentle baby soap. Wash baby’s face and rinse with a clean warm, damp washcloth. Make sure the washcloth isn’t dripping.

4. Wash your baby with a damp and slightly soapy (not too much) washcloth. Keep your baby covered in the towel as much as possible and then rinse with the clean, damp washcloth.

5. You can wash baby’s hair as well if it needs it. Otherwise, you can wait till it’s full bath day. If you do wash baby’s hair, do that last to prevent baby from getting a chill!

6. Once baby is fully rinsed with the clean, damp washcloth, it’s time to dry off. Dry your baby gently and apply gentle moisturizer on dry spots of baby’s skin.

PRO-MOM TIP: Warm the lotion in your hands by rubbing them back and forth. Also run your hands under warm water before giving baby the bath or rubbing them with lotion. You don’t want your cold hands on your baby’s bare, warm skin-brrr. 

Bathing your Newborn Safely

Don’t be a horrible statistic. Never, ever take your hands or eyes off your newborn while bathing. Drowning can happen in very little amounts of water. If you forgot something, you will need someone to come and hold baby in the bath for you or take your baby with you. Never, ever leave your baby in the bath (even for one second) without you. 

Where should you bathe your newborn? 

There is no right or wrong answer here! Just make sure the area is warm enough as babies lose their heat quickly, especially when they are wet. Also, where you bathe your baby will change as they grow older too. Usually, you’ll start with sponge baths and sink baths when your little one is super tiny, then move to a baby bathtub, then graduate to a big bathtub once they are sitting up on their own!

How to bathe a newborn: Step by step

Establish a Routine:  Bathing your newborn before bed can be an excellent addition to his/her bedtime routine. Soon, your little one will start to associate the warm bath with it being almost time to lay down for the night. This can help you establish healthy sleeping for your little one as well. 

Gather Your Supplies: Gather everything you are going to need, before getting started. This will keep baby warm, help you not have to reach far for anything and will keep baby safe since everything you need is right there. Supplies you’ll need include: clean clothes or pajamas, warm room (turn up the heat, no drafts, turn on a hot shower to get some steam in the bathroom beforehand), bathtub, gentle baby soap and lotion, clean diaper, and a baby towel (or 2). 

Bathe Baby: Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Keep the room warm and place your baby into the bathtub (never place baby in the tub while the water is still running). Hold onto your newborn as they will become slippery! Place baby in the water feet first so they can get used to the warm water. Hold onto under baby’s arm and baby’s bottom with your hands. Wash their body with their head second to last so they don’t get chilly during their bath. Wash their privates last. Don’t suds up too much, use a gentle soap and usually water will be an excellent cleanser for most body parts unless they are extra dirty! Wash baby’s neck and neck rolls well. This is where a lot of bacteria can build up because little air touches baby’s neck and breastmilk/formula/spit-up can all find the neck as their resting place!

Rinse Baby: Rinse baby with clean water and never splash your baby’s face with water or pour water over their head.

Gently Dry: Don’t wipe hard to dry your baby’s skin, just pat dry while keeping them warm and covered as much as possible. This is usually the part most babies don’t love because they get a little chilly. 

Go Easy on the Lotions: Baby’s skin shouldn’t need too much moisturizer. Make sure you find a very mild baby lotion to apply to your baby’s gentle skin. Warm it in your hands before touching your baby’s warm body! 

Fresh Diaper and Clothes: Ah, fresh baby. New diaper, new adorable outfit, and a clean baby. 

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Bathing Products for Baby: Tried and True!

As I prepare for my third baby, these are the baby bath products I highly recommend:

Baby Bath Tub- This is my favorite baby bath so far. After three kids, this is the one I have found is best for the price and supports baby the best! 

Baby Tearless Shampoo/Body Wash- I am pretty particular about what I put on my baby’s newborn skin, as I am sure you are! This is the baby wash I recommend. Very gentle and still cleansing.

Baby Lotion- I don’t apply too much lotion on my baby but sometimes (especially during the winter and where you live) your baby will need a good, gentle moisturizer. 

Baby Nail File/Clippers- When baby is nice and warm, their nails are nice and soft and easier to clip. I usually clip their nails or file them down during or right after their bath.

Baby Washcloths- These washcloths are so soft and won’t bother baby’s skin as you rub your little one to wash them all up!

Baby Towels- Same with the washcloths, you want your towels to be so soft for your tiny baby. I love these infant, soft, hooded towels. Why the hood? They keep baby’s head nice and warm while you dry them off, but also…they just ADORABLE!

Baby Hair Brush- While your baby may have so much hair it needs combing (my babies are always bald 😉 ). You can use the comb for their hair but I mostly use the brush for gently removing any cradle cap. 

Ok, there you have it. Did I forget anything? Hopefully if you were wondering how to bathe a newborn, I answered all your questions. If not, drop a question or comment below. Happy bathing and oh, don’t forget to have someone take lots of adorable baby in the bath pictures! 


How did your baby’s first bath go?

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