How to Bathe Your Newborn Baby


Being a new parent can be equally exciting and terrifying. It’s normal to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing as a parent. ​​The parents of newborns often get nervous about bathing their babies. 

Some newborn parents get so nervous about bathing their babies that they develop anxiety disorders. Being nervous about bathing your baby shows that you care, and that nervousness will probably help you be more careful when you give your baby a bath. However, too much anxiety can prevent you from giving your baby a bath efficiently. 

It’s time to stop worrying about worrying and bathe your baby the right way. Read on to learn how to bathe your newborn baby. 

Related: When Can Babies Have Water? 

What is Postpartum Anxiety Disorder? 

If you’re nervousness about bathing your baby feels overwhelming, you may be suffering from a postpartum anxiety disorder

Many people think postpartum anxiety and depression are the same thing. However, they’re different disorders. Postpartum anxiety is the cousin of postpartum depression, and it affects 10 percent of new moms

While postpartum depression causes new moms to experience extreme sadness, postpartum anxiety causes new moms to experience nervousness and worry. As we mentioned earlier, some level of worry and nervousness about being a parent is normal and healthy. 

However, if your nervousness is impeding your ability to be a good parent, you should speak with your OB-GYN or pediatrician. They can refer you to a mental health professional who can help you with therapy or medication. 

How Often Should You Bathe a Baby?

Baby smiling in bathtub

Your newborn likely isn’t rolling around in the dirt or working up a sweat in the gym. Therefore, you don’t need to bathe your newborn every day. Most newborns do fine with a bath two to three times per week. Babies have very delicate skin, and bathing your baby too much can quickly cause their skin to dry out. 

During the first few weeks, your newborn baby will only need a quick sponge bath until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off, which often happens at around three weeks. 

Related: When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby 

Can I Bathe My Baby Before or After the Umbilical Cord Falls Off? 

So, does this mean you need to avoid bathing your baby before the umbilical cord falls off?

The answer is yes. If the umbilical cord stump is still intact, the bathtub should be avoided. This is because bathing your baby with the umbilical cord still intact can lead to infection. 

Instead, you should use a sponge, washcloth, or hands to clean your baby. 

I Feel Safer Giving My Baby a Sponge Bath - How Do I Do That?

If your baby’s umbilical cord has yet to fall off or you feel safer giving them a sponge bath, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Undress your baby and place them on their back on their back on a towel on a flat surface. 
  2. Dip a cotton ball in water and carefully wipe it around your baby’s eyes. 
  3. Dip a washcloth into water and gently clean your baby’s face and ears, making sure to get the creases behind the ears as well. 
  4. Squeeze a few drops of mild baby soap onto the wet washcloth and clean your baby’s neck and scalp. Pat the areas dry when finished. 
  5. Clean the rest of your baby’s body one limb at a time with a soapy washcloth. 
  6. Wet a second washcloth and wipe the soap off the baby. 
  7. If your baby still has an umbilical cord, keep it clean and dry. You can wipe away any dried blood secretions with a washcloth.
  8. Pat your baby dry with the towel they were laying on. 

Once finished, dress your baby in a clean diaper and clothes

How Do I Give My Baby a Traditional Bath? 

If your baby is ready to graduate to a traditional bath, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill a baby bathtub with two to three inches of lukewarm water. (Note: use a baby bath, not a regular bath.) Depending on the model, you may be able to place the tub in the sink or a regular bathtub. 
  2. Undress your baby and place them in the tub. When setting your baby in the tub, place one hand behind its head to support it. Your baby’s head should be well above the water at all times. 
  3. Use a washcloth to clean your baby’s hair, face, and baby. You can also shampoo their scalp one to two times per week. 
  4. Lift your baby out of the tub and pat them dry with a towel. 

Never leave your baby in a tub unattended, as they can drown quickly, even in shallow water. 

Does your baby not sleep unless you hold them? Here’s what to do

Should I Bathe My Baby in a Bathtub or Sink? 

Sink inserts are available for purchase, and they’re great options for those who are traveling or have limited space

You can follow the same steps above and fill the water from the sink. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot when filling the tub. You can use the full bathtub when your baby can sit up on its own (usually around six months). You should still only fill the tub up with a few inches of water and supervise your baby at all times to prevent drowning. 

How to Properly Dry a Baby After Bathing 

Baby with towel on its head

Make sure to rinse your baby well before drying it, as you don’t want any leftover soap residue. To rinse your baby, hold it football-style with your arm cradling the back of its head for support. Fill up a cup of warm water and pour it over the baby to rinse. 

After rinsing, dry your baby gently with a soft towel. You can also apply some moisturizer, but only use a little bit, as your baby’s supple skin doesn’t need much! 

Baby Bathing Safety Tips 

Here are some tips to keep your baby safe when bathing them

  • Never leave your baby unattended
  • Make sure the water isn’t too hot (shouldn’t be above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Use tear-free baby shampoo
  • Be especially gentle with their private parts
  • Only use a little bit of soap
  • Keep all electrical appliances out of reach from the tub
  • Consider child-proofing the tub with a non-slip bath mat

Related: Calming Songs to Sing to Your Baby 


As you can see, bathing a newborn is a fairly straightforward process. Bathtime can be soothing for the baby, and it can be a great bonding experience for the baby and parent, so make sure to cherish the time together! 

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