How should I give my newborn a bath?

Dianne Parker
Dianne Parker on behalf of MDLIVE

Until approximately two weeks or when the umbilical cord remnant falls off, the baby should only receive sponge baths so that the cord does not get wet. After that time, a proper baby bath tub can be used with appropriate support of the baby's head and neck and constant supervision. A fragrance and chemical free baby shampoo or wash should be used to prevent skin irritation or rash.

Although you may be nervous about the first bath, bathing a baby gets easier with practice. Choose a time when you are not hurried, and be sure the area is free of drafts. Collect your supplies, such as clean, warm water in a tub or sink; cotton balls; a soft washcloth; mild soap; and a towel. Place the baby in the tub by supporting the baby’s head and bottom. Wash the baby from top to bottom, bathing the diaper area last. Start by gently wiping the inside to outside corners of each eye with a clean washcloth or cotton balls. Wipe the face with a washcloth. Dampen the hair or scalp with water and gently rub in baby shampoo. Rinse by pouring water over the baby’s head while avoiding the eyes. Support the head and neck with your hand under the chin, and gently lean the baby forward to wash the back. When washing the diaper area on a girl, wipe from front to back. On a circumcised boy, clean the healed penis the same as the rest of the body. For an uncircumcised boy, do not retract the foreskin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.