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Baby's First Bath: How to Bathe a Newborn

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Posted on 1/06/2021 in Pregnancy & Baby

When it comes to the baby's first bath, there are so many questions! But do not stress! In this post, we’ve got all the bases covered to provide you with newborn first bath recommendations. Keep reading to do everything right!

The baby’s first bath fills new parents with excitement and trepidation. It’s a great experience that all moms and dads treasure. Bathing a little sweetpea is more than just basic cleanup, in fact, it’s got tons of benefits like promoting a parent-baby bond, comforting fussy infants, improving baby’s sleep, and more.

On the other hand, when it comes to newborn bathing, most new parents aren’t comfortable handling the tiny person, they feel anxious and have hundreds of questions. When and how to bathe a little one? How long should a baby’s first bath last? What to use for the baby's first bath?

We’ve created this post to provide you with the answers! Here you’ll find everything you have to know to master baby bathing and make this process enjoyable and safe for your newborn.

When to Give a Newborn a Bath?

There’s not any rush for the newborn’s first bath. Actually, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends delaying it for at least 24 hours. The thing is vernix caseosa - the waxy coating on a baby’s skin - is a natural cleanser and moisturizer, plus, this coating protects against infection. Besides, new babies aren’t good at regulating their body temperature, this is another reason to postpone bathing.

To remove amniotic fluid, blood, and meconium, a good towel rub is what’s needed.

When you are at home with your newborn, you’ll want to give him/her a real bath. However, new babies aren’t ready for a bathtub until the umbilical cord stump falls off. The healing process normally takes 2-4 weeks. During this period, you should give your baby a sponge bath.

Things You Need for Newborn Sponge Bath

To feel comfortable and confident during the first baby bath, keep necessary supplies within your reach. Here’s a list of what you may need:

  • Baby first bath soap - make sure it’s of the highest quality (natural and hypoallergenic)
  • A bowl of warm water - about 38°C (100° Fahrenheit)
  • A washcloth
  • A towel - it must be as soft as possible
  • Several cotton balls
  • Baby lotion - optionally
  • A diaper
  • An outfit change

How to Sponge Bathe a Baby

Before you begin the routine, make sure it’s warm enough in the room where you are going to bathe your sweetpea, the temperature must be about 23-27°C (75-80° Fahrenheit). Newborns lose body heat very quickly, therefore, if the room is not warm enough, consider using a heater.

Then you need to choose a surface where you’ll give your baby a bath, it can be a counter next to the sink, a bed, or a changing table. Pad this surface with a blanket or a fluffy towel.

Finally, gather all baby first bath products we’ve mentioned above. When everything is ready, you can start to sponge bathe your little one.

Here are steps on how to do it:

  • Wrap your baby in a hooded towel
  • Place baby on the padded surface
  • While bathing, uncover only the parts of the body you are going to wash. This way, you’ll keep your baby warm
  • Wash the little face first - damp a cotton ball or a sponge and gently wash their face. Be careful not to get water into the baby’s mouth and eyes. Wipe under their chin where drool and milk pool, then clean inside and behind the little ears. Never use a cotton swab to clean inside the baby’s ears
  • Wet the sponge in the warm water and wash the baby’s body, maneuver around the umbilical cord
  • Clean between little fingers and under the arms, get into creases and skin folds.
  • Finally, clean the bottom - use mild, hypoallergenic baby first bath soap to prevent skin issues.
  • Do not forget to pat dry and cover with a towel the body areas you’ve just cleaned to keep your baby warm.
  • If your newborn has dry skin or is prone to eczema, apply some lotion before putting on a diaper and clothe

Starting a Regular Bath Routine for a Baby

As soon as the umbilical area is completely healed, you can try to place your little one in the bathtub. But how to do it right? Below we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions related to baby bathing in a tub so that you can make this process easy, safe, and enjoyable for you and your little one.

How to Bathe an Infant Without a Baby Tub?

Easy peasy! Whether you are a handy home maker or not, you still can create a comfortable environment to wash your baby. So, if you don’t have a baby bathtub, you can use a sink, just make sure it’s big enough to accommodate the infant. Pad the sink with a towel or specially designed sink insert and you’re good to go! Do take care that the water coming from the tap isn’t too hot.

What’s the Right Temperature for a Baby's First Bath?

The water temperature for a baby bath must be 38°C (100°F). Always check it with a thermometer before submerging the little one in the tub. Be sure that it’s warm in the room since the wet baby can get easily chilled.

How Long Should the Baby's First Bath Last?

It should be as brief as possible since the water can irritate the baby’s skin, besides they might quickly get chilly.

Do Babies Need Bath Toys?

Babies don’t need bath toys until they can sit upright and have fun with them. If you talk to your little one during bathing, it’ll be totally enough for them.

How Often to Bathe a Baby?

Babies don’t need a bath every day. Three baths a week will be enough, a more frequent routine can dry out the little one’s skin. But make sure to wash the diaper area, face, neck, and hands daily.

In conclusion, when you bathe your baby, it’s a great time to bond with baby. However, remember that safety comes first! Never leave your little one unattended and always hold them with one hand while washing with another.

Hopefully, our post will help you feel more confident when it comes to the baby’s first bath.

Our favourite baby products in preparation for baby's first bath:


Calendula Baby Love Gift set by Weleda

A lovely gift set of full sized baby essentials including Calendula Nappy Change Cream, Calendula Body Lotion and Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash.  100% certified natural care, free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants or raw materials derived from mineral oils

Ecoriginals  plant based nappies

Ecoriginals plant-based nappies are more than 90% biodegradable and boast 40% greater absorbency.
For every order, they invest in making our world a better place to thrive by planting 1 tree, recovering 25 plastic bottles from the environment and removing 10kg carbon with our environmental partners.


Hevea Kawan Natural Rubber Duck

All natural rubber duck toy with plant pigment colours for safe bath time and teething.  Your baby's best eco companion without BPA, phythalates or PVC.  Suitable for new borns and up. Rubber duck is hand painted with natural plant dyes.  Hygienic, one-piece design prevents bacteria and mould accumulating inside.

Rachel Hudson has been writing on topics related to pregnancy and early childhood for 5+ years now. She’s a mom to two amazing kids. Rachel worked as a doula for 2 years prior to her maternity leave. She adores her kids and enjoys spending time outdoors with them.

Queen Bee Maternity


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