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Baby's First Bath: A Complete Guide

Giving your precious newborn their first bath can be a daunting experience, especially for first-time parents. Your little one is so new to this world and so tiny and fragile. It’s perfectly normal for caregivers to be concerned when it’s time for their first bath.

There are ways to help ease you and your baby through their first bath. We know how important it is for caregivers to make their baby's first bath a positive experience. It can help promote good personal hygiene and prevent negative bath-related associations. 

The best way to overcome your anxieties around baby's first bath is to be prepared! Our detailed guide covers everything caregivers need to know about when to give a baby their first bath at home and how to make sure the process goes smoothly.

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When To Give A Newborn Their First Bath

Giving your newborn their first bath is an exciting milestone, but it can be a little tricky when your little one is very slippery and incapable of supporting themself. Don’t worry because you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

You should ideally give your baby their first bath within a week of their birth. It's important to note that most newborns will receive their first sponge bath by a nurse at the hospital, but for their first bath at home, you should plan to do it within a week of their birth.

At this stage, your little one likely still has their umbilical cord, so you’ll need to give them a gentle sponge bath. You don’t want to get the umbilical cord wet until it falls off on its own, and there’s no need to clean it with anything. 

You'll want to pick a good time for your baby's first bath. Choose a time of day when you're baby is relatively awake and calm. You also want to ensure you won't be interrupted or feel as though you need to rush through the bath. 

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How Often Should You Bathe A Baby?

Contrary to popular belief, babies don't need a bath that frequently. Of course, there are exceptions. You can do 1-2 baths a week when they're very young. Once they're a bit older and able to move around, you'll want to increase their baths to 3 or 4 times a week. If your baby has a diaper blowout and needs an extra bath that week, then that's totally fine!

 

Baby yawning

 

 

What Should The Bath Temperature Be?

Finding the ideal bath temperature is essential to ensure your baby has a positive bathtime experience. You don't want the water to be too hot, but it needs to be warm. Test the bathwater on the inside of your elbow or wrist to ensure it's comfortable for your little one.

The room's temperature should also be pretty warm; around 75°F is best. Babies get cold very quickly, so you want to make sure the room is comfortable for them.

Related: What To Do When Your Baby Fights Naps

How to Bathe A Baby

Bathing your newborn can be tricky, especially when it's their very first bath! Their first few baths are probably going to be sponge baths, as you don't want to get their umbilical cord wet. 

The first step is to prepare the bathwater and all your supplies. Make sure everything is within your reach so you don't struggle to reach the washcloth once your baby is in the bath.

Whether you’re using a sink or a baby bathtub, make sure you only fill it with 2 inches or so of water. You want just enough water to cover the baby’s bottom half. 

Once that’s all set up, it’s time to bathe your newborn! Follow these simple steps for an easy bathtime experience:

  1. Undress your baby, then hold them with one hand under their head and your other hand under their bottom.
  2. Place baby gently into the bath by sliding their bottom down first, then their head. Keep your hand under the baby's head for support if you're using a sink. 
  3. Take a washcloth and dip it in the water. Use a small amount of soap, about the size of a grain of rice. Next, gently wash your baby’s face, then work your way down their body. 
  4. If your baby doesn't have hair yet, you can clean their head with a washcloth. For babies born with hair, use a tear-free shampoo to wash their hair gently. 
  5. Rinse your baby carefully. You don't want to leave any soap on their body or hair as their skin is very sensitive and could easily become irritated.

And that’s it! Your baby might be slippery as a fish and a little fussy, but you’ll get the hang of it after a couple of baths. 

 

Sleeping baby holding a toy

 

 

Tips For A Smooth Bathtime

Parents are naturally going to be nervous about their baby's first bath. Here are some tips to help make sure the process goes smoothly!

  • Please don't force it. If your baby really hates being in the water, then try laying them on a towel and giving them a sponge bath with a bowl of water. You can always try placing them in a baby tub next time. 
  • Use a damp washcloth to cover their stomach to help them stay warm during bathtime.
  • Watch your baby's moods. If you know your little one is extra cranky in the afternoons, try giving them a bath in the morning. 
  • Use a baby comb after if your baby has hair. Even if your little one only has a little bit of hair, a baby comb will help remove dandruff/cradle cap. Just make sure to be very gentle when you’re using it.
  • Wrap your baby in a soft towel afterward. You want to dry them off and get them dressed quickly, so they stay nice and warm.

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Make Baby’s First Bath A Positive Experience

Making sure your baby has a positive experience during their first bath will help them (and you) feel much better about the process, making the following bath times that much easier! Now that you've read our complete guide, you're perfectly prepared to give your baby a great first bath.

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