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How To Bathe A Newborn In 10 Easy Steps

How To Bathe A Newborn
(Khoa Pham / unsplash)

Bath time is messy, especially when you have to bathe a newborn. It would be best if you got their arms and legs strapped in securely, and somehow their head is the most challenging part. It's a balancing act that many parents wish they could avoid. But what if we gave you ten easy steps for bathing your newborn while maintaining your sanity? 

Step 1: Prepare your bathing area. 

Make your bathroom or nursery warm, clean, safe, and comfortable. The ideal temperature for bathing a newborn is between 80ºF and 85ºF (27ºC - 29ºC). 

The temperature of the water is also crucial. You should test it on yourself first. It shouldn't feel uncomfortably hot or cold, and if you're going to use a thermometer, the temperature should fall within the 37°C to 40°C range (that's 98.6°F to 104°F).

Step 2: Wash your hands

To avoid introducing harmful bacteria to your baby's skin, wash your hands with mild soap and water, then rinse them thoroughly. 

Step 3: Undress your baby

Remove her convenient, changeable baby girl outfits or shoes from your newborn's feet before placing them into warm water (it can be tempting to leave footies on babies when they're newborns because they're so tiny but please don't—the water will retain heat much better without anything between it and their skin). 

Place these items on top of a nearby chair, so they're within easy reach when you're done bathing your baby. If needed, put another clean diaper on top of them (for easy access) at this point, as well as any other supplies like shampoo bottles that need refilling during the washing/rinsing process (which happens quickly).

Step 4: Wet the baby's head and body with warm water from a cup or jug, or turn on a gentle spray.

Use warm water, not hot. You may be tempted to use hot water because it feels good—and you're likely to be tired after all that work—but studies show that babies who are exposed to heat during their first few weeks of life are at an increased risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Step 5: Head to toe

Bathe a newborn from head to toe, beginning with the face. Use light, gentle strokes and make sure not to leave any soapy patches on her skin. Rinse well after each section you wash.

Step 6: Hair

If she has any hair, lather it up first before rinsing thoroughly with clean water, as this can help prevent dryness and buildup of sebum (or oil).

Step 7: Ears, Neck, and hands

Next, wash her ears, neck, and hands in much the same way as you did with her face. Maintain gentle touch while ensuring not to get soap inside the ear canal (this could lead to infection). 

Step 8: Chest and belly button

Then move on to washing around her chest and belly button area (a good time for tummy tickles!)—but don't forget about those armpits too! 

Step 9: Between her legs

Now it's time for some serious business: Washing between your little legs may seem awkward but shouldn't be too bad if done correctly without causing discomfort.

Step 10: Pat dry

Gently pat dry with a soft towel, then use a hair dryer on low heat if you want to speed up the process. If you choose to do this, be sure that no part of your baby's head is directly exposed to the heat (this can cause overheating).

Additional Tips:

Use a soft cloth or baby bath wash instead of soap. 

Baby soaps can dry out your baby's skin, especially if she has eczema or other skin conditions and is born prematurely. Instead, use warm water and gently wash her entire body with a soft cloth before drying her off with another.

No scented products.

Avoid scented products to bathe a newborn because they may cause irritation or a rash. Also, avoid using dyes and artificial fragrances in cleaning products such as laundry detergent and fabric softener (see next section).

Choosing the towel

It's best to use one that is not too thick or fluffy, as this could lead to overheating. The same goes for using a towel that is too small or large; both scenarios can cause your baby to overheat.

Change the water often and make sure it stays clean! 

Newborns are at risk of contracting bacterial infections from standing water, so be sure that any water used in the bath is changed frequently throughout your bath time—every three minutes at most!


As with most things in parenting, practice makes perfect. The more comfortable you are with this new routine to bathe a newborn, the less stressed out everyone will feel.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith, author

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