Learning how to bathe baby isn’t too hard when you have a helping hand to guide you.
So to start off you should know daily bathing is not necessary until your baby is on all fours crawling everywhere and getting dirty. Two or three baths a week should be enough with thorough spot cleaning via sponge bath.
The newborn sponge bath is what you will begin with for the first few bath times.
Sometimes in the beginning bathing may not be an enjoyable activity. If this is still the case when baby begins crawling and is getting dirtier it should still be okay to keep daily spot cleaning with sponge bath and tub bathing 2 to 3 times a week.
For daily spot cleaning as a minimum the must-clean areas are the face, neck, hands and bottom.
Babies that enjoy bath time can include it into their daily routine. Though anytime is fine for a bath, it can be a good nighttime ritual to help relax baby for bedtime.
Before getting baby dressed it might be nice to try baby massage, which has many benefits for you and baby. It can also relax baby to help them fall asleep.
For bathing you can put a portable tub in the bathtub or use a sink.
When I bathe Colton, my baby, in the bathroom, I turn on hot water and let it run to steam and warm up the room. The perfect temperature 75 to 80°F is most comfortable for baby during bath time. You can also use a space heater as another option.
To help baby from getting chilled when bathing you can place a warm washcloth on their belly.
Make sure to check areas that collect dirt such as between fingers, toes, under arms and in the folds of their skin.
Cautions To Take Bathing Baby
Avoid the use of baby powder as this can cause respiratory issues.
Lotions and oils can irritate their sensitive skin. With Colton he gets rashes whenever I’ve put lotion on him. I’ve tried 3 lotions now, Aveeno Baby, Parent’s Choice and Johnson’s. They all caused a rash throughout his body. I now use Aquaphor which is an ointment commonly used for diaper rash and it works great no irritation for baby’s skin now.
Never use cotton earbuds to clean baby’s ears, instead use a moist cotton pad and clean around the outside of the ear.
Make sure you are all set up with everything that you need. Don’t leave baby unattended at all. They can get hurt or drown. I have heard a baby can drown in 1 inch of water.
Make sure there are no drafts around which can make baby cold and uncomfortable.
If you are bathing in the kitchen unplug any appliances close to where you are bathing baby.
Make sure the water is not going too hot, test it with your elbow or use a water thermometer.
Keep an eye and make sure baby doesn’t ingest anything, like the shampoo or water which may be dirty and full of soap suds.
If baby poops you will need to take baby out and put in a safe place warm, drain tub, take poop out and then sanitize the tub before refilling and continuing on with the bath.
If baby pees thats okay, pee is sterile you can keeping washing baby.
It’s not a bad idea to learn baby and child CPR just in case your child ever needs you to rescue them. God forbid it ever happening, but it’s better to be on the side of caution.
Choose bath toys carefully. Toys such as the iconic rubber ducky can grow harmful mold or bacteria that can make you and your baby sick. Many bath toys in fact can get that way. So make sure you look for bath toys that are resistant to mold and easy to clean.
Avoid bath time right before and after a meal. Before a meal baby may be upset with a hungry tummy after a meal baby’s belly will be full and more likely to spit-up.
Be careful with sponges which like bath toys can harbor bacteria and mold. I prefer using washcloths which can go right in baby’s laundry and get cleaned.
How To Give A Baby Sponge Bath
You will want to stick with just sponge baths until the umbilical cord and circumcision (if they are a boy and had one) are healed which may take a couple weeks, maybe more, maybe less.
To Give Baby a Thorough Sponge Bath Follow These Steps
Choose where you are going to give your baby their sponge bath. It can be the changing table, it can be the baby’s crib or your bed or the kitchen counter. These are all good places to give your baby a sponge bath.
If you’re going to use the crib or your bed use a waterproof pad or if you’re going to use the counter in the kitchen use a thick towel or a pad.
Before you start getting the baby undressed you want to have the following items already to go:
- Tear free baby shampoo and wash (if you would like)
- 2 washcloths one for shampoo and one for rinsing
- 4 sterile cotton pads for cleaning the eyes, nose and ears
- A hooded towel good for wrapping baby head to toe
- 1-2 Regular Towels or waterproof pad to lay baby on during sponge bath
- Clean diaper and outfit
- Diaper rash ointment (if needed) Aquaphor has been the bomb!
- Bowl of warm water if you won’t be in within reach of the sink
Now to get baby ready. If the room is cool, you want to keep the baby clothed except for the area that you’re cleaning at the time.
If the room is warm all the baby’s clothes can be removed and just cover him or her with a towel while you wash. This is because most babies don’t like to be totally naked.
Whether the room is warm or cool keep the diaper on until it’s time to wash that area. This is a precaution because you never know when baby might need to pee or poop.
To keep the washcloth and water clean for most of the sponge bath, start by washing the cleanest areas working towards the dirtiest areas, which is usually top to bottom.
You can apply the soap with your hands or washcloth but make sure that you use a fresh washcloth for rinsing.
Begin with washing baby’s scalp. Make sure once or twice a week you use tear free baby shampoo wash and be sure to rinse very thoroughly. This can be done on the tub days or sponge bath if not using tubs yet. On the other days just use plain water, to keep from drying out baby’s skin.
The easiest and most comfortable way to rinse your baby’s head is to use the football hold at the edge of the sink. After rinsing your baby thoroughly you want to make sure you towel dry before moving on.
Wash baby’s face. Use one of the cotton pads and get it a little wet with warm water. Use this to clean the baby’s eyes first and then nose wiping gently outward. Use a fresh cotton pad for each eye, nose and one for ears. There is no need to use soap on their face. Make sure you wipe around the outer part of the ears only not on the inside. Then make sure you dry your baby’s face.
Wash baby’s neck and chest. Unless baby is dirty or sweaty you don’t need to use soap. Although you want to be sure you get all the way into the creases that are in the skin and dry well.
Wash baby’s arms. You’ll want to use some soap for baby’s hands and then make sure that you rinse them out well, before baby gets their hands back in their mouths. Extend arms to get into any creases.
Wash baby’s back. Put baby on their tummy with their head to one side and wash their back. Make sure that you don’t miss the folds in their neck. This isn’t a really dirty area so you probably won’t need soap. If the room is cool dry off baby and dress their upper body before moving onto legs.
Wash baby’s legs. Stretch out babies legs and makes you get the backs of their knees. Be aware baby will probably try to resist. And then dry.
Time to wash baby’s bottom. Until healing is complete you will want to follow your doctor’s instructions for the care of baby umbilical cord and if they have a circumcised penis.
If you have a boy with an uncircumcised penis there is no special care needed, just soap and water applied on the outside just like the rest of the body was washed. Make sure you wash carefully getting into all the creases and crevices. Do not try to forcibly retract the foreskin it can be harmful. Only once the foreskin has clearly separated can you retract it once in a while and clean under it. Usually by puberty most foreskins are retractable, so by that point the boy should be able to learn to do it himself.
For a girl you want to wash front to back cleaning with soap and water. If you see any white vaginal discharge now that this is normal and don’t try to scrub it off. You’ll then want to rinse the vagina with a clean section of the washcloth with freshwater or a cup of clean water
Be sure to dry the diaper area well and then apply any ointment if needed.
Put on a fresh diaper and dress your baby. Yay you did it!
How To Bathe Baby In The Tub or Sink
Once both the umbilical cord stump and the circumcision are healed baby is ready for bath time in the tub. You can go back to sponge baths for a few days if the baby doesn’t seem to like being in the water and then try again.
Make sure that the water is comfortable not too hot not to cold, and hold baby firmly so that they feel more secure. Babies have an instinctual fear of falling.
How to Bathe Baby Step by Step:
Decide where you want to put the portable baby tub. You can use the sink or counter in the kitchen or bathroom, or put it in the bathroom tub.
Whatever you choose make sure that you’ll be comfortable and you have room for the tub and all the supplies that you need.
The first few times you give a bath in the tub don’t worry about the soap. Babies can be slippery with soap all over them, so it may be best to get used to bathing them without soap at first.
Before filling up the tub and undressing your baby, make sure you have all the supplies you need:
- Baby bathtub ready to be filled
- Tear-free baby shampoo and wash (if you’re using it)
- 2 washcloth one for applying soap and one for rinsing
- Scalp scrubbie- a necessity if baby has cradle cap. But I use it because Colton likes it and I figured it’s a good preventative.
- Cup for rinsing
- 4 sterile cotton pads for cleaning their eyes, nose and ears
- A hooded towel good for wrapping baby head to toe
- 1 or 2 Regular Towels to lay baby on before and or after bath to dry and dress
- Clean diaper and outfit
- Diaper rash ointment (if needed) Aquaphor has been the bomb!
Lay down the regular towel or a pad where you will be drying and dressing baby.
Fill the tub. You don’t want too much water in the tub about 2-3 inches should be fine. To test the water temperature use your elbow because that is a more sensitive area of your body. or use a water thermometer.
Never fill up the tub with the baby in it, in case the temperature of the water changes. Soap or bubble bath products shouldn’t be added to the water because this can dry out baby’s skin.
To keep baby warm in the tub you can use the rinsing cup to regularly pour warm water over their body. Or you can use a washcloth soaked in warm water and put it on baby’s belly to help keep them warm.
Take all of baby’s clothes off.
Gently lower baby into the bath feet first and take your time. To minimize baby’s fear hold them securely to prevent the startle reflex and use a soothing reassuring tone of voice to help keep baby calm.
Unless there’s a built-in support in the tub you’ll want to use one of your hands to support the baby’s neck and head, until the baby develops good head and neck control.
Be careful not to let baby at slip under the water suddenly which can cause a bad experience, which baby may not forget for a while.
Wash your baby with your free hand starting at the cleanest to the dirtiest areas, which like I said for sponge bathing is usually top to bottom.
Start off using a fresh cotton pad moistened with water to clean baby’s eyes, wiping from inner part of eye outward. Use a fresh pad for each eye. Then grab another cotton pad to clean baby’s nose also wiping gently outward. Use the last cotton pad dampen with water and clean outside of baby’s ears.
Next use the washcloth moistened with water to wash the rest of baby’s face and their neck. If you are using baby wash, add a little bit to the wash cloth and continue to wash the full front side of baby’s body. Then turn them over your arm and wash their back and bum.
Rinse baby well with a clean wet washcloth and the rinsing cup.
Using a mild tear free baby shampoo wash baby scalp once or twice a week. Use the scalp scrubbie in circles sudsing the shampoo on their scalp. Make sure you rinse very well after and use a towel to dry.
Wrap baby in a towel and pat dry. Lay baby down on towels you set aside to make it easier and if baby has dry spots use a small amount of baby ointment. Lastly diaper and dress baby in their clothes of choice.
If you would like to try baby massage then just put a diaper on, saving dressing until after the massage.
The Best Baby Bath Tub For Sink
The best baby bath tub for the sink in my opinion is actually not a tub at all. It is a comfy plush flower with four plus petals called the Blooming Bath Lotus. I got the grey and white one.
Check out the Blooming Bath Lotus on Amazon.
It makes sink bathing so much more comfortable and safe for baby. It is recommended for newborns up to 6 month olds. But by about 6 months old you will probably not be bathing baby in the sink anyway.
It is really cute and comes in various colors. It has a towel like texture, that helps to keep baby from slipping around and it fits in most different sized sinks.
When it gets soaked with water it does get a little heavy and can be a little hard to ring the water out. But once rung out it can either go go right into the washer or dryer, or be hung up to dry.
The Best Baby Bath Tub For The Bathroom Tub
I am on a quest to find the best baby bath tub.
I don’t like the one I am currently using. I got it as a hand me down from family and it not a favorite. I think its a bit outdated. It’s plastic, hard and unforgiving. Colton has banged his head on the side of it. So I am sticking to sink bathing at the moment with the Blooming Bath Lotus (Check it out on Amazon).
As far as baby tubs. I have heard great things about the Munchkin Inflatable Duck Tub (Check it out on Amazon). It seems to be a great transition tub before baby uses the big “adult” tub.
Check out the Munchkin Inflatable Duck Tub on Amazon.
Supposedly it deflates and fold up easily. It claims it’s good for traveling. Being inflatable it is forgiving and comfortable.
The bottom is textured to help prevent slipping and it also has a spot on the bottom that tells you if the water is too hot.
I also want to share this Rainbow Unicorn Inflatable bath tub because well it is a rainbow unicorn!!
Check out the Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn Bath Tub on Amazon.
The Best Bath Time Necessities
Tear-Free Baby Shampoo- So far my favorite Baby Shampoo is the Burt’s Bees Tear Free Shampoo and Wash (Check it out on Amazon). I have not had any skin issues with this product and it smells great.
Kneeling Pads- I like the Poppy Home Bath Kneeler and Elbow Rest Pad (Check it out on Amazon). The elbow rest pad goes on both sides of the bathroom tub side. One side you can put your supplies in and the other can hold the bath toys.
Mold Free Bath Toys- Rubber Ducky you’re the one that makes bath time so disgusting. I’ve seen nasty videos where they cut your average rubber ducky in half and you see all the bacteria and mold growing.
There are toys however that are resistant to mold and easy to clean. The main things you want to look for are BPA free and free from holes where water would get in and mold can grow.
I found a few really cute and fun toys.
- The Munchkin Arctic Polar Bear -Good for working on hand-eye coordination- 4-1/2 Star Rating –Check it out on Amazon
- Learning Resources Sail Away Shapes– Good for learning shapes and colors- 4 Star Rating – Check it out on Amazon.
- Munchkin Clean Squeeze Mold-Free 4 Piece Bath Squirts– You can twist this apart to clean the inside 4 Star Rating – Check it out on Amazon.
- Munchkin Caterpillar Spillers Stacking Cups– Cool to watch as water cascades out of each cup. 4-1/2 Star Rating – Check it out on Amazon.
- Boon Jelly Stacking Suction Cups– Have fun building jelly towers or stick to the side of the tub. 4 Star Rating – Check it out on Amazon.
Bath Thermometer- If your tub does not tell you if the water is too hot like the Munchkin Inflatable Duck Tub, there are bath thermometers that do. The b&h Baby Thermometer (Check it out on Amazon) is a rubber ducky BPA free and has a digital thermometer on it telling you what the bath temp is.
Scalp Scrubbie- I like the ScrubBEE Silicone Hand & Body Scrubber (Check it out on Amazon). It is yellow and looks like a bee’s nest and honeycomb. It is mold resistant and has a large handle that doesn’t trap water and has super soft bristles.
Washcloths– Organic Bamboo is softer than Organic Cotton and these Hypoallergenic wash cloths will be the next set I buy. They come in blue, green and pink.
Cup For Rinsing- I think the Skip Hop Moby Rinser (Check it out on Amazon) is cute. It is a whale and comes in grey or blue. Reviews have said that it is the perfect size for rinsing baby.
Towel With Hood– I love the look and sound of these two organic bamboo towels I found and I definitely am getting one. They are really cute. One comes in lemon print (Check it out on Amazon) and the other strawberry print (Check it out on Amazon). They have a hood and it is said to be super soft and thicker for better absorption.
Baby Ointment- I’m gonna have to say Aquaphor (Check it out on Amazon) is the best I have found so far.
I’d Love To Hear From You!
What are some of your best tips for bathing baby? Has this guide helped you and if so how has it helped?
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