When to Bathe Your Newborn

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As a new parent, you may be wondering when the best time to bathe your newborn is. After all, a clean baby is a happy baby, right?

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, we will cover all you need to know about when and how to bathe your little bundle of joy, ensuring their comfort and health.

When to Bathe Your Newborn
Photo by Khoa Pham on Unsplash

Why Is Bathing a Newborn Important?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand why bathing your newborn is essential.

Bathing helps maintain your baby’s hygiene by gently removing dirt, sweat, and other residues from their delicate skin. It also provides a perfect opportunity for parent-infant bonding and helps establish a relaxing bedtime routine.

However, the timing and frequency of these baths play a significant role in ensuring your newborn’s health and well-being.

When to Bathe Your Newborn for the First Time:

Here are a few considerations for bathing your newborn.

Delay the First Bath

As tempting as it may be to give your baby a bath right away, it’s essential to hold off for at least the first 24 hours.

Delaying the first bath has numerous benefits, including temperature regulation, increased maternal-infant bonding, and a decreased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

In addition, waiting 24 hours or more allows the natural substance called vernix caseosa, a thick, white, waxy substance found on your baby’s skin, to stay on the skin longer. This substance acts as a natural moisturizer and protects against infections, making it a beneficial feature for your newborn’s skin.

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Sponge Baths Until the Umbilical Cord Falls Off

Once you’ve passed the 24-hour mark, you can start giving your newborn a sponge bath.

However, you’ll want to avoid submerging your baby in water until their umbilical cord stump falls off and the area is completely healed. This usually takes about 1-4 weeks.

In the meantime, sponge baths are an excellent way to keep your baby clean without causing discomfort or risking infection.

How to Give Your Newborn a Sponge Bath:

Gather Your Supplies

Before you start, make sure you have all your supplies ready and within reach. You’ll need:

  • A soft washcloth
  • Mild baby soap
  • Baby shampoo (optional)
  • A soft towel
  • A clean diaper and clothes
  • A changing mat or a waterproof pad

Set the Stage

Choose a warm, comfortable, and draft-free area to bathe your baby. Ensure the room temperature is around 75°F (24°C) to keep your little one cozy. Lay out the changing mat or waterproof pad and place your baby on it, making sure their head is supported.

Bath Time!

Wet the washcloth with warm water and gently wipe your baby’s face, avoiding the eyes. If needed, you can use a small amount of baby soap for particularly dirty areas. Rinse the washcloth thoroughly and use it to wipe the soap off your baby’s face.

Next, gently clean the rest of their body, focusing on areas like the neck, armpits, and diaper area.

Remember to keep your baby wrapped in a towel, only exposing the part you’re cleaning to keep them warm and comfortable.

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Drying and Dressing

Once you’ve finished the sponge bath, wrap your baby in a soft, warm towel and gently pat them dry. Pay special attention to their skin folds to prevent any moisture buildup. Finally, apply a mild baby lotion if needed, put on a clean diaper, and dress your baby in fresh clothes.

Subsequent Baths: Tub Baths and More

Once your baby’s umbilical cord stump has fallen off and the area is completely healed, you can start giving them a full bath in a baby bathtub. Here’s how to make the transition from sponge baths to tub baths:

Choose the Right Tub

Select a baby bathtub that has a non-slip surface and is specifically designed for newborns. Some models come with a sling or support to keep your baby secure and comfortable. You can use a sink or a regular bathtub as well, but make sure to use a baby bath seat for added safety.

Gather Your Supplies

As with sponge baths, make sure you have all your supplies ready and within reach. In addition to the items listed earlier, you’ll also need a baby bathtub or bath seat.

Fill the Tub

Fill the baby bathtub with a few inches of warm water, making sure the baby bath temperature is around 100°F (38°C). You can use your elbow or a bath thermometer to check the water temperature. Remember, it should feel warm, but not hot.

Get Your Baby Ready

Undress your baby and wrap them in a towel to keep them warm. Gently lower your baby into the tub, using one hand to support their head and neck.

READ MORE:  How to Tell If Baby Bath Water Is Too Hot

Bath Time!

Use a soft washcloth or your hand to gently wash your baby’s body. You can use a small amount of mild baby soap, but avoid using too much, as it may dry out their skin. If needed, use baby shampoo for their hair, but be careful not to get any soap or shampoo in their eyes.

Rinse and Dry

Gently lift your baby out of the tub, using one hand to support their head and neck. Wrap them in a warm, soft towel and pat them dry, paying special attention to their skin folds.

Moisturize and Dress

Apply a mild baby lotion if needed, put on a clean diaper, and dress your baby in fresh clothes.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Newborn?

Newborns don’t need daily baths, as they don’t get very dirty. In fact, bathing your baby too often can strip their skin of natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Generally, bathing your newborn 2-3 times a week is sufficient. However, you should always clean their face, neck, and diaper area daily with a damp washcloth to maintain good hygiene.

Final Thoughts

Bathing your newborn can be a fun and relaxing experience for both you and your baby. By following these guidelines and paying attention to your baby’s cues, you’ll ensure that bath time is a safe and enjoyable bonding experience.

Remember, every baby is unique, so it’s crucial to adapt your routine to their needs and preferences.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.

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