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Infant Care:
Bathing Your Newborn

bathing infants

Related Topics:
Circumcision Care
Umbilical Care
Birth to 3 Months

babyIn the first weeks before the umbilical cord falls off, sponge bathing is recommended.

Sponge Baths - Step by Step


  1. Wash cloth
  2. Infant soap product
  3. Baby shampoo (tear free formula)
  4. Towel
  5. Baby lotion
  6. Warm water supply

There are many products on the market for bathing a newborn from a stand alone tub to holders for your adult sized tub. Sponge bathing requires none of these. Later, these the bathing devices will be helpful. For now, simply use your changing table or a towel on the bed or crib.

Step 1 - Have all of your supplies on hand so there is no reason to leave baby unattended. (You may want to turn on your answering machine, take the phone with you or take it off the hook.)

Step 2 - Remove baby’s clothes and diaper. Cover his body with a blanket or towel to prevent him from becoming cold.

Step 3 - Using a moistened wash cloth, begin with the top of the baby’s head. Place a tiny amount of baby shampoo on the wash cloth and gently massage into baby’s hair. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the anterior and posterior fontanels (soft spots). Rinse wash cloth with clear warm water and wipe soap from baby’s hair and head. Rinse and repeat to get all of the shampoo off baby’s scalp. Dry baby’s head with a soft towel.

Step 4 - Apply a small amount of an infant soap product to the wash cloth and begin with the face and gently work your way down her body. Rinse and dry as you go along to prevent baby from getting chilled.

Step 5 - Dry baby and apply a small amount of baby lotion to all areas except genital and umbilical areas. Many baby’s are extremely sensitive to touch at this age. If your baby is extremely upset when applying lotion, skip this step. Lotion is not necessary to baby’s skin.


   -   Avoid eye area.
   -   Be sure to get in all the folds of baby’s neck, chin and behind ears as these are the places milk and formula tend to collect.
   -   Avoid getting umbilical cord area wet.
   -   Place a dry wash cloth or towel over a boy’s penis to avoid being showered while bathing.
   -   Hold baby across your arm (tummy down) firmly to wash her back side. Using a towel between you and her skin will prevent her from slipping out of your hand. Another position for washing her backside might be to place baby on her tummy with head turned to one side.
   -   This is the best time to sing and talk to your newborn. Many do not like to be bathed at this age and may become quite upset.
   -   Dry skin can be caused by not thoroughly rinsing soap products during bathing.
   -   Dry scalp can be a common condition referred to as “Cradle Cap”.
   -   Notify your pediatrician if you notice any type of skin rash or extreme dryness.
   -   Many parents recommend nursing or a bottle after the bath.

Related Topics:
Circumcision Care
Umbilical Care
Birth to 3 Months


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Bathing Your Newborn


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