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Bathing your baby

Bathing your baby

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Until your baby’s umbilical cord heals, you’ll be giving her sponge baths (about twice a week or as needed). For circumcised baby boys, wait until the circumcision has healed (about 10 days) before giving him his first full bath.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

You can give a sponge bath about anywhere: on the changing table, bed, or in a small, portable tub on the kitchen counter or in the bathroom. Wherever you do it, just make sure that you keep the room warm and soothe your baby by softly singing or talking to her during the bath.

Get ready

Here's a list of what to have on hand:

  • baby soap
  • baby shampoo
  • washcloths
  • cotton balls
  • rubbing alcohol (for cleaning the umbilical cord)
  • gauze squares (for circumcision area)
  • lotion
  • ointment
  • clean diaper
  • clean outfit
  • towel

Steps to your baby's first bath

When you're ready to begin, undress your baby but don't take off the diaper until you're ready to clean her bottom. Start at the top and work your way down. To keep your baby from getting too chilly, use warm water and place a towel over the top of her body while cleaning the diaper area.

Eyes and face:

Use a clean, damp washcloth to gently wipe the baby's eyes from the inside corner by the nose out. Then clean her face with a washcloth and water only. Pat dry.

Neck and ears:

Be sure to clean in the creases. Wipe behind and outside the ear, not the inside. Dry.


Wash hair with a tiny dab of baby shampoo. For no-tears rinsing put your baby into the football hold—think of the way a football player holds the ball—with a washcloth folded on the forehead. Dry the head well.

Arms, hands, chest:

Gently stretch arms and fingers to clean carefully with soap.

Hips, legs, and feet:

Gently extend legs to wash and clean between your baby’s little toes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Umbilical cord:

To avoid getting the umbilical cord wet, place a dry washcloth over the area during bath time. Some doctors recommend swabbing the stump with rubbing alcohol to keep the area clean and hasten drying. Others recommend leaving it alone but cleaning around it. You should discuss this with your baby’s doctor.


Turn your baby over on her tummy to wash her back, keeping her securely in your arms.

Groin and buttocks:

Support your baby in your arms. For girls wash front to back. For boys wash in all creases, but don’t disturb the foreskin.

After the bath

Wrap up your baby in a soft, dry towel. Hooded towels are extra cozy. Put on a new diaper and dress your baby.

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