When you’re a new parent, every activity can be a new and exciting (or terrifying) challenge. Giving your baby a bath is no different. It can be a fun time with your baby but it can also be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The First Few Weeks
When you first bring your new baby home, you won’t be able to give them a real bath. Until their umbilical cord stump falls off, you will only be able to give them a wipe down. Don’t worry, the stump should fall off in one to four weeks.
You can give your baby a sponge bath by wrapping them in a towel and using a wet washcloth and a baby wash. Clean your baby’s face using just water and a washcloth first. Next add the soap to the washcloth and wash your baby’s hair and body, saving the diaper area for last. Make sure to dry your baby well.
You will want to gently clean your baby’s eyes with a wet cotton ball and a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol for the umbilical cord stump.
Between baths, you can use Johnson’s Head-to-Toe wipes to clean your baby up.
First Real Bath
Once that pesky umbilical cord stump falls off, you can give your baby a real bath. You will want to use a baby tub and make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. Fill the tub to a level that is low enough that your baby’s ears don’t get wet.
Like with the sponge bath, you’ll want to start with your baby’s face using just a wet washcloth. From there, you can work your way down their body.
To wash my son’s hair I squeeze out a washcloth over my son’s head with one hand, while shielding his ears with the other hand. Then I rub some Johnson’s bedtime baby wash between my hands and lather his head with both hands. Then I take a damp washcloth and scrub his head. This helps rinse the soap off and also helps loosen flakes from cradle cap.
After washing their hair, move down your baby’s body with a soapy washcloth, leaving the diaper area for last. Rinse them off and you’re done. My son loves the water to I usually wet the washcloth and squeeze it over his body a few times.
The Easy to Miss Spots
There are a few spots on your baby, especially before they are able to sit up on their own, that are easy to miss.
- Under the neck – This one is the most difficult to get in my opinion. The position of your baby in the tub makes this spot hard to get to. Lift your baby’s shoulders and head with one hand, letting their head lean back a bit, and use your other hand to wash under their neck. This is a great time for teamwork if your partner is available to help you.
- Behind the ears – This spot is tricky because you want to avoid getting water in your baby’s ears. I make sure I get this spot while I’m washing my son’s hair.
- Between the fingers – When you’re washing your baby’s hands, make sure you get between their fingers too. It’s an easy place for gunk to build up and with the amount of time your baby spends with their hands in their mouth you’ll want them to be clean.
- Back and butt – You’ll need to lift your baby up to get their butt and back while they’re in the tub. I usually do this in two steps. First I lift my son’s head and scrub his upper back, and then I lift his butt to get his lower back and butt.
How Often Should Your Baby Bathe?
As long as you are cleaning well during diaper changes and wiping your baby’s hands and face throughout the day, you don’t need to bathe your baby very often. Two to three times a week is all that’s actually needed to keep your baby clean.
You may find that you want to bathe your baby more often for a number of reasons though. I bathe my son every night as part of his bedtime routine. He loves to splash in the water and the lavender scented soap helps him relax before bed.
Once your baby gets a little bigger and is able to sit up on their own, you can have a lot of fun with bath toys. There are a variety of bath toys that you can get from simple rubber duckies to more complex toys the move through the water. Try putting your baby in the bathtub in a laundry basket to make it easier for them to keep their toys nearby.
Make It A Special Time
Whether you bathe your baby every day or only twice a week, make it a special time. Take this time to play and bond with your baby while they get clean. You can work bath time into your routine in a way that works for you and your baby. I have found bedtime to work best because it relaxes my son, but all babies are different.