How to Give Your Baby a Bath: A Step-by-Step Guide

Bathing your little bundle can seem like a daunting task, but these simple tips will make bath time a breeze

Photography from iStockphoto.com

Bath time is a special part of your baby’s care routine, and is a perfect way to wind down before bed. A relaxing soak in warm water and one-on-one bonding time with you signals that it will soon be time for sleep.

Bathing a newborn can seem like a daunting task (so small, so slippery!), but if you’re a new parent (or parent-to-be), don’t fret—we’ve got simple tips to help you master the baby bathing basics:

Prepare for Bath Time
Before you even turn on the tap, make sure you’ve got everything you need close at hand. You don’t want to be searching for a towel with a slippery wet baby in your arms. You’ll need a bathtub, a plastic cup, a bath thermometer, a gentle cleanser, washcloths, a clean towel, diapers, diaper cream and moisturizer, and a clean outfit for after the bath.

Baby-Bathing Pro Tip: Once you’ve got everything in place, make sure the bath space is free of cool drafts that might make your baby shiver. Unlike adults, babies don’t need a long soak. Bath your baby once or twice a week, keeping tub time to between 5 and 10 minutes before you pull the plug. If you’re bathing your babe in a standard-size bathtub, lay down a soft pad or folded towel to kneel on.

Ready to begin? Here’s a simple step-by-step plan to follow. 

• Test the waters
Run the bath at a comfortable temperature, filling the tub no more than two or three inches deep. Make sure to test the water before you put your baby in the bath. The “elbow test” is a reliable temperature gauge: dip your elbow into the water—the temperature should feel warm, but not hot, at about 90ºF (or 32ºC). Use a fun bath thermometer to double-check.

• Scrub-a-dub
Gently undress your baby and place her into the water, taking care to support her head and neck. Use a plastic cup to pour water over her body so she doesn’t get chilly. Use cotton balls moistened with clear water to wipe your baby’s eyes and face. Add a few drops of a gentle cleanser to a soft washcloth to lather up hair, and wipe down her body from top to bottom and back to front. Take extra care to clean behind little ears, and inside skin folds under chubby little chins, behind knees, wrists and elbows. Rinse away suds with a cup filled with clear warm water.

• Splashy fun
Bath time is prime time for one-on-one bonding. Sing and chat to your baby, tell stories, explain what you’re doing as you go—anything to keep your wee one relaxed and happy.

• Over and out
Use both hands to lift your baby onto a clean hooded towel, making sure to support her head and neck. Gently pat dry, taking care not to rub her delicate skin. If your baby is prone to diaper rashes or dry skin, now is a good time to apply a good diaper cream or soothing skin cream formulated for babies. A gentle infant massage will relax your baby even more before you dress her in a clean outfit.

Important Safety Tip: We know, we know—it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: never leave a baby alone in a tub, not even for a minute. For safety’s sake, you should be able to keep one hand on your little one at all times.

new-baby-ctaThis story is part of our New Baby Guide. Check it out for more info on bringing home, planning for and surviving having a new baby.

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