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Baby's First Bath: What New Parents Must Know

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Baby Bath: Tub Time

Once the umbilical cord falls off, and the circumcision and the navel are completely healed, it's time to try a tub bath. Not all babies like the transition, so if your baby gets fussy, go back to sponge baths for a week or so, then try again. Bathing a baby is a process -- an adjustment for both baby and parent.

To prepare:

  • Find a baby bathtub made of thick plastic that is the right size for your baby. An insert for young babies is ideal -- and keeps the baby's head out of the water. A slip-resistant backing on the tub will keep it from moving during bath time.

Don't try to use bath seats or bath rings. These are for older babies who can sit up on their own -- not for newborns.

Bathing a Baby: The First Tub Bath

Make the first tub baths quick ones. Fill the tub with only 2 or 3 inches of warm -- not hot -- water. Use one hand to support baby’s head, then slowly lower him.

  • Using a washcloth or baby bath sponge, wash the face and hair. When rinsing, protect eyes with your hand across the forehead. Gently wash the rest of baby with water and a small amount of soap. 
  • Use water or a cleanser designed for babies. As hair grows, try gentle baby shampoo. 
  • To keep baby warm during the bath, cup your hand to let handfuls of water wash over baby's chest. 
  • Gently pat baby dry. Apply baby lotion all over to seal in moisture. 
  • Now it's time for a fresh diaper. Apply diaper ointment to protect against irritation.

When bath time is over, wrap baby in a towel right away, covering baby's head for warmth. Congratulations on a successful bath!

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 03, 2014
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