How to Bathe a Newborn: Step-by-Step Guide for New Parents

How to Bathe a Newborn: Step-by-Step Guide for New Parents

How to Bathe a Newborn: Step-by-Step Guide for New Parents

Welcoming a newborn into the family brings abundant joy, but it also comes with much responsibility. As a parent, you're in charge of your baby's entire well-being, including their hygiene. But how do you bathe a newborn when they're so delicate? In this guide, we'll discuss the steps for safely and effectively bathing your newborn so you can enjoy this new bonding experience without any unnecessary stress. 

How to Give a Newborn a Bath

Bathing your newborn is essential for your baby's hygiene, but it also provides the opportunity for skin-to-skin bonding and relaxation. Whether it's a sponge bath during the first couple of months or a full bath after the umbilical cord stump has healed, knowing the correct techniques is crucial for ensuring your baby's safety and comfort. 


Preparing the water and gathering your supplies before bathing your baby can ensure safe and easy bathtime. Here are some steps for preparing for your newborn's bath.

Choose a Bathing Spot

Before you give a newborn a bath, pick where you want to bathe them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests using baby bathtubs because they keep your baby's face above the water, preventing accidental drownings. You can place baby bathtubs in the tub or sink. Pick a spot that will be comfortable for you to stand or kneel while always having a hand on your baby. Wherever you choose to bathe your newborn, make sure to never leave them unattended and always give them your full attention.

Gather Supplies

Put all your supplies within reach to ensure a safe and smooth bath for your newborn. Here are some supplies to gather.

  • Soft, cotton washcloth
  • Baby soap
  • Baby bath or basin
  • Bath seat (optional)
  • Sponge (optional)  

Make sure to choose an additive-free baby soap that's gentle on your newborn's delicate skin. At, our gentle formula includes natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals. With our Foam Body Soap, you can provide a gentle and soothing bath for your little one.

Check the Water

Make sure the bathing area is clean before starting your baby's bath. It's also essential to check the water temperature to avoid hurting or causing discomfort for your baby. The bathwater should be between 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but never over 120. Many parents worry they'll make the bathwater too hot. However, you should also make sure it's not too cold because it may be uncomfortable for your newborn. Test the water on the inside of your arm or wrist or use a bath water thermometer.

Bathing Techniques

There are two different ways to bathe your baby: sponge and full baths. Here is the difference between the two and when to use each method.

Sponge Bathing

The AAP suggests giving newborns sponge baths during the first few weeks before the umbilical cord stump falls off. Use a soft washcloth or sponge to gently wash your baby's hands, neck, face, and diaper area. Remember to support your baby's head and neck throughout the process to ensure their comfort and safety.

Full Bathing

You can transition to a full bath once the umbilical stump cord has fallen off and completely healed. Carefully place your baby in a baby bath or basin, making sure it's stable and secure. Use warm water and mild baby soap to clean the baby's body, starting from the cleanest areas like the face, neck, and hands, and move towards the diaper area. Always support your baby's head and be cautious of water temperature to avoid harming your baby. 

Should You Use a Bath Seat?

Some parents use baby bath seats to provide additional support during baths. However, there are disadvantages to using bath seats that should also be considered.


  • Support and stability. Bath seats can provide additional support for your baby, especially if you're bathing them in a bigger tub.
  • Convenience. With a bath seat, you may have more freedom to use both hands during the bath, making it easier to wash your baby thoroughly.


  • Limited use. Babies can outgrow their bath seat quickly or may not feel comfortable in it.
  • False sense of security. While bath seats can offer more support and stability, they're not foolproof against accidents. Parents may think their baby is safe in the bath seat and pay less attention during bath time.

If you choose to use a bath seat, follow the manufacturer's instructions to properly use and secure the seat. Never leave your baby unattended, even in a bath seat, because accidents can happen quickly.


Below are some commonly asked questions about how to bathe a newborn.

When can you bathe a newborn?

It used to be common practice for nurses to bathe newborns immediately after birth, but current recommendations have changed. Now, the World Health Organization suggests waiting 24 hours before giving a newborn a bath. However, there are some exceptions to this recommendation if the baby has been exposed to specific pathogens during birth, like Hepatitis B or C, HIV, or HSV. In this case, babies may need a bath immediately after birth.

Once you take your baby home, there's no specific timeframe for when you can bathe a newborn. Remember that you shouldn't fully immerse your baby in water until the umbilical cord stump heals. You should also give circumcised baby boys sponge baths until the penis is completely healed. 

How many times a week should a newborn be bathed?

Bathing your baby one to three times a week is typically enough. The AAP states that you may be able to follow this schedule for your baby's first year. Babies don't need many baths because they don't get too dirty, and over-bathing can lead to dry skin. Just make sure to thoroughly clean the dapper area when changing your baby and regularly wipe down roll crevices.

How do you bathe a newborn with an umbilical cord?

Give your newborn sponge baths if the umbilical cord stump is still attached. Giving a newborn a full bath when the umbilical cord is still attached can increase the risk of infection. The umbilical cord stump needs to dry out and heal properly. Submerging it in water can introduce bacteria, leading to infections like omphalitis. 

Gently clean the baby's body with a sponge bath while avoiding the umbilical cord stump. Once the stump falls off and heals completely, you can switch to full baths. However, if you switch to full baths and your baby protests, switch back to sponge baths for another week or two. Babies will usually make it obvious when they're ready for full baths.

Final Thoughts

Bathtime is more than just cleaning your baby — it's a great opportunity for bonding and comforting your little one. By following the steps above, you can ensure a safe, soothing, and pleasant bath experience for both you and your newborn. offers safe, gentle, and effective cleaning products for your baby. With our body soap, bottle wash, and laundry soap, you can trust that you're providing the best care for your new bundle of joy. Visit our website today to give your newborn the gentle care they deserve.
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