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As a new parent, it's normal to feel both excited and a little overwhelmed when giving your baby his or her first bath.

For most parents, bathtime quickly becomes an enjoyable chance to bond with your baby. These tips will make your baby's  baths easier for you, and more enjoyable for both you and your baby.

Things to Remember

Most babies only need 2 or 3 baths a week, though you can clean the diaper area more often. Set aside enough time to bathe your baby without feeling rushed.

The most important thing to remember about your baby's bathtime is to never leave your baby unattended near water. Babies should never be left alone at bathtime, not even to answer the door or phone.

Begin with a Sponge Bath

Until the umbilical cord falls off and heals, it is best to give your baby a sponge bath. After that, you can bathe your baby in the bathtub or sink. Always support your baby's head and neck with one hand and wash your baby with your other hand.

Extra Tips

You do not need to purchase a special infant bathtub. If you already have one you may use it. But if not, you can place a folded towel at the bottom of a sink or bathtub.

If your baby needs help getting used to the water, wrap him or her in a towel or receiving blanket before placing your baby in the bathtub. This will keep your baby feeling secure and warm as he or she gets used to the water.

6 Easy Steps

Since you should never leave your baby alone near water, it is important to set up what you need before beginning your baby's bath. This way you can always keep a hand on your baby. Below are 6 simple steps for bathtime:

  1. Set all your supplies within easy reach.
    Suggested items include: a bathtub, sink, or baby bathtub; baby soap and shampoo; 2 towels and 2 washcloths; and a clean diaper, clothes and a blanket.    

  2. Use warm (not hot) water.
    Fill the bathtub with water that is lukewarm to your touch.
  3. First, wash your baby's face.
    If you are not using an infant bathtub, wash baby's face and hair before putting your baby in the tub. Keep your baby wrapped in a towel so he or she is warm. Then, with a wet washcloth, gently wash baby's face, making sure to avoid getting any soap near the eyes. Also, wash behind your baby's ears and the outer folds of your baby's ears.
  4. Next, wash your baby's hair.
    Wet your baby's hair with a small amount of water. Using a small amount of shampoo, massage his or her head with the same washcloth. If you wash gently, you don't have to worry about causing damage to your baby's "soft spot" on the top of his or her head. Then, rinse your baby's head with the second clean washcloth.
  5. Last wash your baby's body.
    If you are not using an infant bathtub, now place your baby in the tub to wash your baby's body. Always hold his or her head in one hand. Wash your baby's body with soap on the washcloth, cleaning the diaper area last. Rinse with the second clean washcloth.
  6. Dry and warm your baby.
    Gently lift your baby from the tub and use the towel you set out to thoroughly dry your baby. Make sure your baby is on a safe surface. You can then apply lotion, if needed. If your baby is cold, you can dress and swaddle your baby in a blanket. Or, you can place your baby against your own bare skin and enjoy some cuddles and that wonderful scent of a freshly bathed baby.

Elizabeth Walenz, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency

Dr. Walenz answers your questions about child health and parenting. Dr. Walnez loves seeing kids grow and helping them lead a long healthy life. She is especially interested in nutrition, growth and development. She believes in a team approach when caring for children. She thinks it is important to listen to the patient, the parents as well as her health care team when deciding the best care for her patients. She always tries to talk to the children directly and ask them how they are fe ...

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