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Your guide to baby bath basics

Washing your newborn baby is a fun milestone. Before your baby arrives, you’ll likely picture their first bath and the many bath times to come. Bath time can also be a confusing time when you’ve never bathed a baby before.

From how often to bath to a baby to what type of bath your baby needs, here’s an overview of everything you need to know about bath time.

How often should you give your baby a bath?

A common question when you have a newborn baby is how often you should bath your baby. While you may shower every day, your newborn baby actually doesn’t need to take a bath every day. While your baby isn’t mobile, you can wash them about three times per week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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If you wash your baby too frequently, your baby’s skin may dry out. The parts that are most essential to keep clean are likely getting washed during diaper changes and feedings. If you’re washing your baby’s bum and using burp cloths regularly, this should be sufficient to keep your baby clean in between baths.

When you are in between washings, you can also wipe your baby’s hands and feet with a washcloth and soap or a baby wipe. People are prone to touch and grab these when they are first meeting your baby, so it might be a good habit to get into.

Bathing your baby three times a week should be plenty to keep your newborn clean until they are older. From there, it is up to you and how messy your little one gets. If they go to a child care center or have older siblings, you may want to add another bathing in there. When your baby starts to eat solid foods, this can also be a messy time for your little one.

What time of day is better?

When it comes to what time of day to bath your baby, this is really up to you. Often, a bath is recommended as part of a bedtime routine. If you find yourself pressed for time or that your baby is too tired, you can move bath time to a different time of day.

If you prefer to do a bath at night, baths don’t have to be an hour-long. Stick to a calming and quick bath as a way to wind down the day.

Sometimes a baby can be too overtired for a bath at night and it can be overstimulating. If you’d rather wait until your baby is more awake, you can do a bath in the morning instead. If your baby is home during the day, a midday bath before a nap can be a good time as well.

When it comes to the time of day, there really isn’t a wrong time to do it. Whenever works for you and your family is the best time for you.

How to give a sponge bath

When your baby is a newborn, all they need is a sponge bath to keep them clean. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents only give sponge baths or washcloth baths until the umbilical cord falls off. This can be a week or even two weeks after your baby is born.

To give a sponge bath, you need a warm room with a flat surface or sink. You can use an infant tub that sits in a sink, a bath pad, or even a changing table with a basin. In terms of supplies, you should have a couple of washcloths and some mild baby shampoo and soap. Have spare clothes, a diaper, and a clean towel ready for when you are done.

While keeping one arm on your baby, set them in a shallow tub with warm water running. Use soap and a washcloth to clean your baby while the warm water is running. Check the water temperature with your hand before you start.

When your baby is ready for a tub

When your baby is ready for a bathtub, you can start with an infant tub in a sink or the regular bathtub. No need to fill the tub or basin with too much water. Just enough to keep them warm and soak their bottoms with soapy water.

You can use mild baby soap and a cup to clean and wash your baby. As your baby gets older, they can sit up in the tub themselves. This may not be until they can sit sturdily on their own around six to eight months. Keep one hand on or near them for the first few baths.

Bathtub basics

When bathing your baby, always keep your focus on them for safety. Keep a hand on or near them at all times. Babies can drown in just an inch of water.

If you notice your baby has a rash or skin irritation to the soap you are using, look for a clean and mild formula. Babies have sensitive skin in general, so don’t worry too much if you see some redness or dry skin after a bath.

When you are done bathing your baby, pat them dry and lock in their skin’s moisture with a lotion or petroleum jelly.

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