Whether you’re bathing your first baby for the first time or are on baby number three, you may still have newborn bathing questions, the most pressing being “How often should I bathe my baby?” Please answer this question for parents.
While longtime best practice has been to bathe baby right after delivery, newer research suggests that delaying the first bath may be beneficial.
At any rate, it’s likely that the nurses will give baby their first bath, but you can always watch what they do and ask for tips for bathing at home.
Once you get home, you’ll want to bathe your newborn one to two times per week until their umbilical stump falls off. Use a warm washcloth and give them a gentle sponge bath starting with their head and face and working your way downward.
If baby spits up or dribbles milk as they feed, you can wipe them down a little more frequently, taking particular care of their face and neck areas.
1 to 3 months
During the early months of your baby’s life, you’ll want to continue bathing them one to two times per week. Once they no longer have their umbilical stump, you can begin giving them more traditional baths.
To do this, fill a baby bathtub partway with warm water and let them sit and splash as you wash them all over with water and a gentle baby soap. You can use damp washcloths to cover them and keep them warm during the bath. Again, you can start with their face and head and work your way downward.
It’s also important to remember that adults generally prefer much warmer water than babies do. Aim to keep the temperature lukewarm, and your babe will likely be happy for the bath time cuddles.
3 to 6 months
As your little one grows, you may want to change up their bath routine a little bit. At this age babies still only need a bath one to two times per week, but if they seem to enjoy the water or like splashing as they get clean, you can consider bathing them more frequently.
Many parents also take advantage of diaper and outfit changes to give their baby a quick wipe down and make sure that all their important parts are clean. After bath time, you can moisturize baby with a gentle, fragrance- and dye-free lotion.
6 to 12 months
Once baby becomes mobile and starts eating solids, you may decide you need to begin bathing them more frequently. While they still only really need one to two soapy baths per week, you can either give them a sponge bath or put them in the tub to soak and rinse off more frequently as messes arise.
You might also find that bath time is a pleasant way to calm baby down before bedtime.
Why not every day?
While it may feel odd to bathe your baby so infrequently, babies simply don’t need to bathe as often as adults. They don’t sweat or get dirty in the same way as older people, and their skin is much more sensitive than that of adults. Frequent bathing can actually do more harm than good.
To avoid drying out baby’s skin and worsening conditions like eczema, bathe your little one to two times per week and wash them with a mild, fragrance- and dye-free soap. When you get them out of the bath, pat them dry before applying a dye- and fragrance-free baby moisturizer and promptly dressing them.
Bathing a baby is a delicate process. You want to be sure that your little one is getting squeaky clean, but you also need to be sure that you’re being gentle and that baby is comfortable. Check out the tips below to make bathing an easier and more effective process:
Start at the top.
Experts recommend starting any bath by gently washing your little one’s hair and face. After that, use a washcloth to work your way downward, soaping and rinsing your baby as you go.
Focus on the folds.
Most babies have rolls or folds along their thighs, neck, and wrists. These folds are adorable but can also trap bacteria, dead skin cells, and things like spit-up and dribbled milk. As you bathe your little one, focus on thoroughly washing and rinsing their folds and rolls.
Don’t forget the hands and feet.
Babies tend to suck on their fingers and toes, so it’s extra important to get these parts clean. Use a soapy washcloth and gently spread their fingers and toes to make sure you get their hands and feet as clean as possible.
Try the sink.
If you have a portable baby bathtub, chances are it fits neatly in your kitchen skin. Try giving your back a break by bathing your little one in the sink instead of the bathtub while they’re still young enough to be immobile. Once your little one can roll or scoot, it’s time to move baths into the tub to avoid any accidents.
Be careful with siblings.
If your baby has an older sibling, you may want to save time and energy by bathing them together. Once your little one can sit comfortably on their own, this is usually fine. Although, before your baby is able to sit on their own, you’ll want to skip sibling baths to avoid your baby being bumped, jostled, or splashed as they adjust to the water.
Aim for mild products.
When selecting the soap, shampoo, and lotion you’ll use for your baby, aim for products that are dye- and fragrance-free.
Remember to never leave baby in the bath untended, even briefly.