How to Bathe a Newborn: A Step-By-Step Guide

ByBarbara Nevers Updated December 26, 2020

How do I bathe a baby? Although this may look like a simple question, many new parents are left wondering how to bathe a baby correctly. Adding bath time to your baby’s routine is something you can begin after your baby is born.

However, if you don’t know how to give your baby the perfect bathe, don’t worry! It’s an easy process and, once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like a professional in no time. Do you want to know how to bathe your baby? Read on to learn the process and other things you need to know about bath time.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Bathe Your Baby

Bathe does not only relax your baby, but it can also give you a chance to bond and play after a hectic day. Ready to bathe? Follow our simple guide to learn ways to bathe your baby safely.

1.Have all your supplies ready

Some items are required to bathe your baby. You must not step away from your baby even for just a second — so make sure you’ve got all the baby care supplies you need before you start washing your baby. Prepare all the items such as soft towel, ultra-soft washcloth, gentle shampoo, gentle cleansing gel, plastic cup, clean diaper, and pair of clothes. Once you’ve all these supplies, you’re ready to get started!

2.Fill your bathtub with water

Fill the baby tub to about two to three inches deep at room temperature water. Check the water with a bath thermometer to make sure the water temperature is not more than 38 degrees C to help protect against accidental scalding.

If you don’t have a thermometer, feel the water temperature with your wrist rather than your hand because your wrist is more sensitive. The water should feel neither too hot nor too cold. Fold a towel or lay a bath mat on the bottom to avoid slipping and sliding around.

3.Put your baby in the tub

Gently lower your baby into the bathtub with one hand supporting the back of your baby’s and the other under their bum. Always hold your baby, and keep her chest and face above the water to prevent drowning.

4.Monitor your baby closely

Some newborns have a blast in the tub while others need time to get used to the feeling of being in the water and being bathed. Just monitor your baby closely, whatever the case may be. In addition, never leave your baby alone in the bath.

If you need to leave the room to get something or answer the phone, wrap your baby in a towel and take her with you.

5.Start with the baby’s head and face

It’s ideal to start from the baby head and face when bathing your baby before the water becomes too soapy. This reduces the chances of soap getting in their eyes when you’re rinsing them off. If your baby is uncomfortable when you wash their head and face, consider washing them at the end with a clean, damp washcloth. Another great option is using cotton balls for your baby’s head and face.

6.Lather and rinse carefully

You need to be gentle when lathering on shampoos and cleansing products since babies’ skin is extremely soft. You may choose to use your hands or use an ultra-soft washcloth. Remove any bracelets, rings, or watches you’re wearing if you prefer to use your hands. After lathering, use a plastic cup to pour water over a soapy area of your baby’s body, and you need to be careful so that no soapy water gets in the baby’s eyes or nose!

7.Wash baby’s legs, arms, and torso

You can focus on your baby’s arms, legs, and tummy and back once you’ve rinsed and lathered your newborn’s head and face. These areas tend to be easier to wash than the more sensitive places. Wash carefully and continue to monitor your little one. Rinse your baby thoroughly, and then lift him or her out of the bath and straight on to a dry hooded towel

8.Gently pat the baby

Use the towel to pat your baby gently. Your newborn might feel a little cold when first coming out of the bath, so it helps to dry them off quickly. Dry your baby thoroughly as excessive moisture could cause skin irritation. Pat your baby skin dry to avoid skin damage. Put a new diaper on, and dress your newborn in a warm outfit. Now, you’ve got a clean, adorable baby on your hands.

Umbilical Cord Care


The baby umbilical cord will dry and fall off after about 1 to 2 weeks(1). However, it is essential to continue caring for your baby umbilical cord until the area heals. To prevent the risk of infection and prevent delayed healing, some doctors and medical professionals may advise against immersing your baby in water until the umbilical cord has dried, fallen off, and healed completely. You need to ensure that your baby’s umbilical cord is kept dry and clean.

Meanwhile, you can pat the area with a clean towel and keep diapers below the umbilical cord stump or give baby sponge baths and clean the area of the umbilical cord stump with a cotton ball sprinkled with warned water. It is essential to keep in mind that you are not allowed to pull on the umbilical cord stump, even if the area looks like it is dried up. You need to let the umbilical cord stump to fall off on its own entirely.


How Often Do I Bathe My Baby?

In the first year, bathing your baby 2 or 3 times a week is probably enough, as long as you wash the diaper area very well every time you change your baby. You can keep your baby’s genitals clean by using cotton wool and warm water between baths. Bathing your baby once a day is also OK, but any more frequently than that could dry out your baby’s skin. For older babies, it can be every day, as bath time often becomes part of the bedtime routine.

How To Wash My Baby's Hair And Scalp?

Wash your baby’s hair or scalp twice a week. Carefully massage a baby shampoo into their hair to wash your baby’s hair or scalp. Rinse it out thoroughly by dabbing with a wet washcloth. You can brush your baby’s hair and scalp If your baby has a cradle cap but be careful not to pick or scrape at their scalp.

Where Should I Bathe My Baby?

In the first few weeks, you can bath your newborn in a small plastic bath. You can bath your baby in any room that’s safe, warm, and clean – it doesn’t have to be a bathroom. Remember never leave your baby alone, not even for a second because babies can easily drown in as little as 5cm (2in) of water.

Where Should I Bathe My Baby?

Your baby’s skin is sensitive to yours. As a result, water that feels comfortable to you might be too hot for the baby. Therefore, check the water temperature using a bath thermometer or with your elbow or wrist to confirm it’s warm and not hot before you put your baby anywhere near the water. According to the Mayo Clinic(2) ,the water temperature of your baby should be at 100 degrees, and should not exceed 120 degrees.

Which Shampoo Or Soap Should I Use For My Bathing Baby?

Baby’s skins are sensitive, and all soaps are mild irritants. Every baby’s skin has an individual tolerance to soaps. The amount and type of soap suitable for your baby can only be known by trial and error, but it’s advisable to use soap only on areas that are caked with secretions, which are not easily removed with plain water. Note that too much shampoo or soap can camouflage natural baby scents that mothers find irresistible. It is ideal not to mask the mother’s natural smell, which a baby needs.


At first, it’s natural for newborns to find bath time distressing, but most babies quickly learn to like bath time. If your newborn doesn’t like baths, give your baby a ‘top and tail’ bath for sometimes and a proper bath the next. By around two to three months, it’s possible your baby will love the bathing time.

Engage Baby by singing songs, making eye contact, and telling your baby what you’re doing (even if they are too young to understand). You’ll be surprised at how bath times can provide the most blissful bond between you and your little one.  Bathing your baby becomes lots more fun as your newborn gets more used to bath time, and you gain more confidence in handling them.


About the Author

Barbara Nevers

Barbara is a full-time mom of 3 children and a part-time blogger since 2018. She likes to write on various topics about motherhood. She drinks a lot of coffee, loves French pastries, reads a lot, also enjoys crafts and Montessori activities.

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