bathing a newborn, How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps
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How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

By Amy Morrison
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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.

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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.

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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?

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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.

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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 and allowed me to get into those little crevices, plus I can let my baby gnaw on them knowing that my 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.

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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!

How to Give a Newborn a Bath in 5 Easy Steps

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 it’s recommended that you wait until circumcisions and umbilical cords heal (a couple of weeks after birth) before doing anything other than sponge baths.

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 Chris Evans is ringing the doorbell in his underpants, you either ignore it or scoop that kid up to answer the door and say “Perfect timing, Chris, 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 soap 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 Chris for me.

Related: How to Cut Baby Nails

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