Bathing

Parenting in the Early Years

Bathing

Give a full bath once or twice a week and wash soiled areas as needed. It is not advisable to give your baby a complete bath every day, as it may dry out his skin.

Before You Begin

Collect bath supplies including mild soap, cotton balls, cotton swabs, alcohol, wash cloth and towel, clothes, basin, and a tub or sink with warm water. Test the temperature of the water with the inside of your wrist. Get your baby last. Never leave him unattended on a flat surface or in the tub.

Bathing a babyBathing Your Baby

  • Before you undress your baby, wash his face without using soap
  • Use the corner of a clean washcloth to wipe the baby's eye from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eye. Use another clean corner for the other eye.
  • Wrap the washcloth around your finger to clean the baby's outer ear. Never use a Q-tipĀ® in the ear.

Choose a mild soap without fragrance. Avoid the use of detergent soaps and bubble bath. These tend to cause genital irritation. Shampoo in the bath water can cause the same problem.

Wash and gently massage the scalp. You may notice the heartbeat pulse through the soft spot on the baby's head. The soft spot won't be harmed by normal handling.

Dry your baby's head well, as they quickly lose heat if their heads are wet and exposed.

Next, undress your baby. Hold your baby securely as you lower him into the bath. This helps your baby feel more secure.

Turn him with one hand on his chest and abdomen and the other hand on his back.

Soap hands and wash his back, then rinse. Then do the front. Soap your hands and wash feet, legs, the front of the diaper area, buttocks and the back of the diaper area. Rinse and dry.

You may notice breast engorgement, (in both girls and boys) which is normal and commonly lasts for several months.

Girls

Cleanse the genital area with a cotton ball, soap and water from front to back, separating labia. Rinse well. Girls may have a mucous or bloody discharge (pseudomenses) shortly after birth.

Boys

Cleanse the penis with soap and water, then rinse well.

Now that the bath is over, dress your baby in the weight of clothing that would make you feel comfortably dressed. Lotions, oils and powders are not necessary for babies. Just keep them clean and dry.

Tips for Bathing Your Baby

  • Wash your hands well before handling your baby
  • Give your baby a bath in a warm, draft-free area
  • You can give your baby a bath any time of the day when you're not hurried or tired, and when your baby does not have a full stomach.
  • Give your baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord or circumcised penis is completely healed. Then you can give a tub bath.
  • Your baby may cry during the bath, but finding ways to distract him can make it a more enjoyable event