If you’ve recently given birth to your first child, congratulations! The first few months of your baby’s life are an amazing time. But you might be wondering about how to bathe your newborn. Not to worry! It’s actually an easy process and, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a baby-bath expert in no time. Keep reading to find out how to bathe a newborn in 10 simple steps.

mother and baby smiling at each other while baby lies on back

When To Begin Bathing Your Newborn

Many new moms aren’t sure when to begin bathing their newborns. The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least 24 hours after your baby’s birth to give them their first bath. There are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, your baby has just left the comfort of your tummy and will get cold easily. You’ll want to give your loved one some time to adjust to life outside the womb. Experts believe that 24 to 48 hours is plenty of time to allow your infant to regulate their body temperature. The risk of hypothermia drops considerably after the 24-hour mark.

Second, your newborn will likely have a coat of vernix on their skin when you bring them home from the hospital. Vernix shouldn’t be washed off intentionally, as it provides several important benefits to your baby.

For instance, vernix has antibacterial properties and keeps your baby healthy. It also protects their delicate skin as they become accustomed to dry air. It’s best to let the vernix fall off your little one’s body naturally, which will happen in the first week or two of life.

To sum up, it’s safe to begin bathing your newborn 24 hours after birth. Or if you prefer, you can wait 48 hours. Whatever you choose, just be sure to start with sponge baths. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends waiting for your newborn’s umbilical cord stump to fall off before submerging them in water. This normally happens sometime between one and three weeks after birth.

How Often You Should Bathe Your Newborn

Newborns can be bathed every day as long as you use products specifically formulated for their delicate skin. However, it’s also perfectly acceptable to space out their bath times, waiting one or two days between baths. If you do this, always remember to follow an effective daily hygiene routine so your little one stays clean even on the in-between days.

For example, always clean your baby’s bottom thoroughly when changing a dirty diaper. Your baby’s diaper area needs to be kept clean to avoid infections and rashes. Use gentle baby wipes, like Mustela’s Soothing Cleansing Wipes or Stelatopia Cleansing Wipes. This will keep your little one clean while protecting their delicate skin.

On the days when you choose not to (or aren’t able to) bathe your newborn, you can use micellar water to cleanse their most important areas. Mustela’s No Rinse Cleansing Water is both gentle and effective! Use it to keep your little one clean without drying out their skin.

When using micellar water, focus on your baby’s face, hands, feet, neck, armpits, and the backs of their knees. These areas need to be cleansed more often than their arms, legs, and tummy.

Newborn Bathing Supplies

A few items are required to give your baby a bath, but you won’t need anything out of the ordinary. Here’s a list of what you will want to have on hand:

That’s it! You may also want to add a few drops of bath oil to the water to make the experience more enjoyable for your loved one.

Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary supplies, you’re ready to get started!

baby gazing upward while being held in bathtub

How To Bathe A Newborn In 10 Simple Steps

At first, bathing your newborn might seem like a big ordeal. After a few weeks, however, giving your baby a bath will be as easy as changing their diaper.

We mentioned this earlier in the article, but it’s worth repeating: until your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off, stick to sponge baths. The steps below are instructions for bathing your newborn once their umbilical cord is gone.

Here’s how to bathe a newborn in 10 easy steps!

1) Have All Of Your Supplies Handy

First things first: make sure to have all of the supplies we listed above easily available. Choose a stable place to set out all of the items. Some parents like to use a bathroom countertop, or even just the bathtub itself.

Other folks prefer to use a changing table or a kitchen countertop. Whatever surface you choose, just make sure that it’s safe and stable.

2) Fill Your Baby’s Bathtub With Water

The second step is to fill the bathtub with water. You only need two to three inches of water to bathe your newborn.

The water temperature should be roughly the same temperature as the human body—98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Anywhere between 90° F and 100° F is perfect. Use a thermometer to make sure you’ve got the temperature just right.

3) Gently Place Your Newborn In The Bath

With one hand supporting the back of your baby’s head and the other under their bum, gently lower your baby into the bathtub. Don’t let them dive in head first! Let your little one dip their toes in first.

Expert tip: It may also be helpful to place a towel at the bottom of the bathtub, which makes it feel softer and prevents your baby from sliding around too much.

mother supporting newborn baby's head during bathtime

4) Monitor Your Baby Closely

Keep a close eye on your little one and make sure they’re enjoying bath time! Some newborns take to the water naturally and have a blast in the tub. On the other hand, some infants need time to get used to the feeling of being in water and being bathed.

Whatever the case may be, just monitor your baby closely. If they’re having fun, let them play in the tub for a while! If they seem uncomfortable, try to get through bathtime quickly.

5) Lather And Rinse Carefully

As we’re sure you already know, babies have extremely soft, delicate skin. That means you need to be very gentle when lathering on cleansing products and shampoos. You may choose to use an ultra-soft washcloth, or you can simply use your hands. If you prefer to use your hands, remove any rings, bracelets, or watches you’re wearing.

After lathering, use a small plastic cup to rinse your baby off. Just scoop up a cup-full of water and gently pour it over a soapy area of your baby’s body. Be careful so that no soapy water gets in your loved one’s eyes or nose!

6) Start With Your Baby’s Head And Face

When bathing your newborn, it’s best to start with their head and face because you want to wash those areas before the water gets too soapy. This reduces the chance your bundle of joy will get soap in their eyes when you’re rinsing them off.

Again, you can use a washcloth or your hands. Some parents like to use cotton balls for their baby’s head and face, and that’s also a great option!

7) Wash Your Baby’s Arms, Legs, And Torso

Once you’ve lathered and rinsed your newborn’s head and face, you can focus on their arms, legs, tummy, and back. These areas tend to be a little easier to wash than the more sensitive places. Wash gently and continue to monitor your little one.

mother explains how to bathe a newborn to young child

8) Don’t Forget All The Easy-To-Miss Places

Newborns have an abundance of adorable folds and rolls, which can be easy to miss when you're bathing them. Specifically, make sure to wash the folds around your newborn’s neck, wrists, knees, and elbows. And don’t forget to clean behind your baby’s ears, as well as in-between their fingers and toes.

Wash your baby’s genitals and diaper area thoroughly. It’s extremely important to clean this area well, but this task should always be left for last. That way, any bacteria or germs that get washed off won’t dirty other areas of your loved one’s body, which helps prevent rashes and other skin conditions.

9) Gently Pat Your Newborn Dry

Once you’ve finished bathing your newborn, you can remove them from the bathtub and set them on a clean, soft towel. Use the towel to gently pat them dry, going in the same order that you washed their body. Your baby might feel a little cold when first coming out of the bath, so it helps to dry them off quickly.

Finally, apply a safe, gentle, moisturizing lotion, put a new diaper on, and dress your newborn in a warm outfit. And voilà! You’ve got a clean, adorable baby on your hands.

mother holding baby wrapped in a towel after bathtime

Now that you know how to bathe a newborn, you’ve got one less baby task to worry about! Keep these 10 tips in mind and you’ll be a baby-bathing pro before you know it.