How to Give a Newborn a Bath

How to Give a Newborn Baby a Bath - tricks and tips to get that slippery little thing clean!

I used to get really anxious about bathing my baby because infants are squirmy greased water balloons when they are wet. I mean here you’re trying to clean something with very little neck control while keeping their head above water. No pressure there.

Actually, It’s not as hard as it sounds, all you need a few simple tools and you’re ready to roll.


This is where your anxiety and wallet play the biggest roll. If you’re nervous like I was and have the cash, then go all out
and get something kick ass so it’s one less thing to worry about.

If you’re easy peasy like my friend, stick a towel in the bottom of the tub and fill the bath with about an inch of water and lay the baby on the towel and wash away. Yes, yes, I’m screaming “Ears!! What about the baby’s ears!!!” in my head too but she assured me that water didn’t get in the baby’s ears and you can’t get much cheaper than free.

For the record, it’s advised that you try to avoid getting water in your baby’s ears when they are in the bath to reduce the risk of ear infections but it isn’t cause for panic either.

PRIMO Eurobath got huge props online and I love how you can use it for both stages of scary baby bathing – wet fish stage, and flip-backwards-crazy-daredevil-no-concept-or-drowning stage. You can stick in on a counter when they are wee so you’re not bending over to wash them, and you can put it in the bathtub when they are older so you’re not filling a whole tub. For me, the biggest key on this is the “crotch stop” (I’m sure that’s not what they call it) but it’s the thing that stops the baby from sliding down so your hands are free to wash them.

Blooming Bath is a fantastic way to bath a baby in a sink without feeling like you’re washing your baby in the same spot where you wash carrots. It’s nice and soft and cozy, and hangs up to dry. They show a faucet over the baby in the picture, but I would fill the sink with water then fill a cup to rinse them off rather than use the faucet directly unless you have really reliable water temperature consistency. Sorry, my bath phobia is showing again, isn’t it?

Summer Infant Comfy Bath Sponge or the Summer Infant Fold N’ Store Tub Time Bath Sling (as seen in my Baby on a Budget Post) To me this is like the towel in the tub but less scary. It’s a nice, inexpensive solution that’s quick drying and easy to store. So much so that I can ignore the nutty photoshop job on the sponge baby suspended in the bath with moms superimposed arms (insert designer shudder).

As for baby washes, there are tons out there. My advice is to check out Cosmetic Database to make sure the one you like isn’t full of crap. I was quite partial to the Aveeno line and Dr Bronners because they’re a nice reasonably priced wash that was readily available and not full of junk.

Satsuma Designs Organic Wash Cloths and Wipes 5 Pack: Unlike towels, I do prefer wash cloths that are solely for the baby because they are thinner allowing you to get into those little crevices, and you can let your baby gnaw on them knowing that your husband hasn’t used them to wash his ass at any point. I like the organic ones, but if that isn’t a big worry you can get the
regular ones that tend to be less expensive.

Clevamama Splash and Wrap Hooded Towel: I didn’t really bother with special towels when bathing my kids, but I do really like the idea of this hooded towel that you wear like an apron them scoop them up in it. It’s also reasonably price at around $20.

Got all your gear? Good! Let’s wash this kid!

Step One:

Get everything you need locked and loaded before you put this weeble in water. Get the clothes or jammies, towel, soap, etc. out so you’re not running around with a cold, wet baby looking for things.


Step Two:

If you’re not dealing with a messy back poop, feel free to layout a towel and do this sponge bath style and just grab a bowl of
warm water.

I should also note that some site advise that you wait until circumcisions and umbilical cords heal (a couple of weeks after birth) before doing anything but sponge baths, but I found just as many sites that gave the go ahead so don’t panic if you get them wet before that time. It looks like they aren’t Gremlins after all. Dang.

Fill the sink, tub, pickle barrel, or whatever you’re bathing them in with warm water. If you’re bringing them in a bath with you, fill the tub beforehand so you’re not acclimatizing yourself to the heat then adding more and more hot so you’re swimming in lava by the time you add in the baby.  You’re shooting in the area of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius.

As for temperature ducks and thermometers, feel free to get them if it helps put you at ease but they aren’t essential. Some sites say that you have to use your elbow to test the bath but I must have freakish elbows because I really couldn’t tell if it was hot or not there. I found my hand worked fine.

Bath toys are great too but you don’t have to have them and they are just as happy to play with the cup and the washcloth.


Step Three:

Get ‘em wet. Some sites go into great detail about gently putting a baby in feet first and easing them in like a great yacht
on their maiden voyage but it really isn’t that tricky. Put the baby in the water any way but head first and you should be fine.

Tips and Threats: Don’t leave your baby in the bath unattended…ever. I don’t care if Channing Tatum is ringing the doorbell in his underpants, you either ignore it or scoop that kid up to answer the door and say “Perfect timing, Channing, I was just finishing up so please make yourself comfortable and fold that basket of laundry while you wait” Babies can drown in less than an inch of water in less than 60 seconds so don’t mess around with that.


Step Four:

I liked to add a little wash to a wet facecloth then work my way down from top to bottom. Some friends used to add the wash to
the bathwater go from there. Either is fine. I used to use a small, plastic cup to rinse them off and either used a wet washcloth to rinse any soap off their face or held it on their forehead to shield their eyes while rinsing their hair.


Step Five:

Lay the towel out on the floor or counter then lay your baby on it and wrap ‘em up, or toss the towel over your shoulder then lift the baby out, hold them on your chest and fold them into the towel. I used to take them back to their room and lay them on their change table for the lotion rub down, diaper, and jammies

That’s it! Congratulations, you have a clean kid!

Above all, don’t sweat it too much. If your newborn has nothing but sponge baths for the first 6-months of her life, no biggie – she isn’t working in a coal mine. If your baby loves baths, go for it. Water is a ton of good clean fun and baths are a nice
way to break up the day.

Either way, have fun, stay safe and say “hi” to Channing for me.

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  • Earth Mama, Angel Baby makes a fantastic foam body wash that my LO loves. As for the bath tub, I pick one up from target that had a hammock thingy that when over it for the newborn stage just like the towel idea and now I use the bathtub like normal.

  • "and you can let your baby gnaw on them knowing that your husband hasn’t used them to w…ash his ass at any point."

    Exactly why I insisted on baby cloths, even though my husband didn’t agree. 🙂

  • Sooo glad I came across this post on Pinteredt tonight! I was JUST complaining about our current baby bath for many reasons and the eurobath seems like it would solve all those problems! Thanks!

  • I know this is an older post, but thought I would chime in anyway….

    First bath with my daughter, I thought the bath had to be cooler than body temperature – like 95 degrees – but that seemed cold to me. But I had read it somewhere so I did it. She screamed like I was putting her in an ice bath and I was terrified of doing the bath again. Second time, I made the bath closer to body temp like your post says – 98-100 degrees – and she was totally fine. So those 5 little degrees mattered to my baby…. Therefore, I recommend a thermometer of some kind if mommy is uneasy about it. But ALSO, go with your gut! If it feels cold/hot, it probably is!

    And something else a little random – a friend told me that to keep baby warm during the bath (since they are not sitting fully submerged in the water), use a larger adult sized washcloth to lay over the baby with warm water on it and use the baby washcloths for washing. Worked great for us.

  • I just got into the tub with my little. We got in our skin to skin time, mommy got to relax, husband got to enjoy sitting and watching us and I never had to worry about her slipping away from me. Bath time is one of her favorite times of day and I attribute that to how we did baths. We kept it up until she could sit well then moved her to the kitchen sink.

  • Im not sure if its a ‘just in Canada’ product but so far im happier with the Burt’s Bee products than the Aveeno products (though i far prefer them to the Johnson’s et al). Generally speaking, i don’t bother with a body wash product, just warm water and a wash cloth and a bathroom sink. I lay babe back against my weak wrist, and use my dominant hand to drive the wash cloth. Hair washing was done with babe swaddled (even up to 6/7 mo old) in a towel with lying on the counter with just her head held over the sink. No worries about water running back down into eyes, and she stays warm in the towel. Babe 1 went to the kitchen sink at about 8 mo. Babe 2 went into the big tub with big sis at about same time with mum hovering.

    • PS I love the squirty bottle too, though i use it with baby washcloths for diaper changes… plain water, get the cloth wet, and wipe away. No chemicals.

  • Helpful hint: if your hospital sends you home with a little squirty bottle (for your tender nether regions) you can use that for rinsing the baby—full of warm water and the spray is directed so it is easy to rinse around ears without getting water in them—also great for little cracks and crevices, neck and thigh rolls…you get the idea. I used mine for every baby bath well into year two!

  • Thanks for the post. It is nice to start to learn more about newborns from a less freaked-out website. I am so glad my friend recommended this site to me. It is so refreshing to read something funny, informative and not so fear inducing.

  • (Pssst . . . the title should be spelled "How to Bathe a Newborn.") Great post, lots of good tips! I’m 5 months in now, but this would have been helpful at first. I’ll pass it along to my friends who are still expecting 🙂

    • Oh, don’t even get me started. If you look in the header I’ve named the post with "bathe" but it seems the American spelling is "bath" (maybe the online dictionaries are fucking with me) so I wanted to make sure the post was searchable.

      I reworded it so it doesn’t drive me nuts anymore. See, you resolved it for me just by pointing it out ; )

        • I know, I know : ) For some reason I was lead to believe that "bath" is used as both a noun and a verb in the States. Seeing as most of my readers are in the U.S. (where my stash of Diet Snapple also is) I wanted to be searchable there. I couldn’t handle it anymore so I changed it – Lord knows I make enough grammatical and spelling errors without doing them on purpose.

  • A comment on the blooming bath-

    We have one and it is so hard to get that sucker dry! Most days we ended up throwing it in the dryer because if we left it dry hanging up-even after wringing it out- it would get the mildewy smell. We ended up switching to the old reliable blue tub.

  • Hilarious. Very helpful though because I am looking at tubs and there are so many choices. I like your suggestion of going to the EWG site as well…ts disturbing what you read about most care products on that site…they are all LOADED with crap!

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