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Bathing your newborn baby can be daunting for parents as you figure out how to keep your baby clean while also keeping him warm and safe.

Here are some tips to help:

Less Is More

Newborns only need to be bathed a few times a week, especially if you take care to clean their diaper area well during diaper changes. Not only do they not get dirty enough to need daily baths, but too much bathing may dry out the skin.

Avoid Tubs Until It's Time

A gentle sponge bath is all you need in order to bathe your newborn. In fact, most pediatricians recommend sponge baths until your baby's umbilical stump falls off, which usually happens in the first 2 weeks. 

You can give your baby a sponge bath in a warm place with a flat surface – such as a counter, changing table or even on a blanket or towel on the floor.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin the bath, gather everything you will need:

  • water basin 
  • soft washcloth
  • mild baby soap
  • warm towel to dry baby
  • new dry diaper and clothes for after bath

If you do forget an item that you need to bathe your newborn, make sure you take your child with you. Never leave your baby alone during a bath, even for just a second. 

Use a bath thermometer to check the water temperature. Water should be close to 100 degrees. You only need a few inches of water. 

Start From the Top

Hold your baby securely with your arm supporting his head. 

Wash your baby's head first and work your way down. 

  • Start by washing your baby's face with a wet washcloth before applying soap to avoid any chances of getting soap in his or her eyes. 
  • Always keep your baby wrapped in a towel and only expose the body parts you are actively washing. 

Avoid Lotions and Moisturizers

Most newborns don't need moisturizer after a bath. Because a newborn's skin is so sensitive, some moisturizers can even cause a rash. Talk with your pediatrician about if and when lotions can be used on your newborn. 


Watch Dr. Bendlin's "How to Bathe a Newborn" Video

Emily Bendlin, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic - Hawthorne Court

Dr. Bendlin loves working with kids and their parents. She has always enjoyed caring for kids.  "I've always liked medicine, but more importantly I've always liked kids," Dr. Bendlin said. "During my pediatric rotation it was the 'aha' moment. It was so fun and I was so excited when I went home. I knew at that time this is it for me – pediatrics is where I’m supposed to be." According to Dr. Bendlin, "Working with kids is fun. What other ...

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