Bathing Your Baby

It’s best to sponge bathe your baby for the first few weeks until the cord heals and falls off. When the cord comes off, you may tub bath the baby. At first, the baby may object. But with time, the baby will come to enjoy having his or her clothes off, getting wet and being washed. When getting a tub bath, the child’s safety and comfort are important.

How often you bathe the baby depends on his skin, the baby’s activities and the weather. Babies with dry skin and those who sleep most of the day may need a bath only 1 to 2 times a week. If the baby has normal skin is active and the weather is hot, a daily bath may be needed.

  • Put the baby on a towel and give a sponge bath only, until the cord comes off.

  • During the first few months, use a baby bathtub or a clean plastic dishpan. The family bathtub may be used once the baby is 6 months old. Fill a basin with 3 to 3 inches of lukewarm, not hot, water. Test the water temperature using your elbow or the inside of your wrist.  Slowly put the baby’s body in the water. Use one hand to support the baby and the other to wash the baby.  Start at the top and move down. Pay special attention to the folds in the neck, under arms and the creases in joints, which are especially prone to rashes. You can wash the baby’s head and hair 1 or 2 times a week with a gentle shampoo. Rinse with a washcloth to get rid of all shampoo.

  • Never leave your baby unattended during a bath.

  • Use water that is warm not hot.

  • Wash the face first and the bottom area last.

  • Use a wet washcloth with no soap to clean the baby’s face. Rinse off the eyelids with fresh water. Wash the ears with a cloth. Do not put cotton swabs in the baby’s ears. This will push the wax back into the ear. A mild shampoo may be used on the head.

  • For boys, wash the bottom with a mild antibacterial soap or with plain water. Be sure to lift the scrotum and wash underneath it.

  • For girls, wash the bottom with plain water. Wipe from front to back to keep from spreading germs from he rectum to other parts of the bottom.

  • When you are finished bathing, make sure all the soap is rinsed off the baby’s skin. Soap left on it can be irritating.

  • You may apply lotion after the bath once the baby is 3 to 4 weeks old. Use only lotion suggested by your doctor. Lotion can be warmed by putting the container in warm water before the bath.

  • Do not use baby powder because it contains talc and may irritate your baby’s lungs. You may use cornstarch.

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