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Bathing Your Newborn

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

Your little one is back home with you from hospital. You are both excited and nervous at the same time as you are responsible to take care your newborn. Feed, poo and sleep, but what about bathing?


The World Health Organization recommends delaying the first bath until at least 24 hours after birth. Others suggest waiting up to 48 hours or more. Until the umbilical cord is healed (between 10 days and three weeks after birth), the AAP recommends you stick to sponge baths two or three times a week.

Remember to wash the face and hands frequently, and thoroughly clean his genital area after each diaper change.

For older babies, it can be as much as every day as bath time often becomes part of the bedtime routine. It can be a great way to help your baby relax and wind down for the night.

A study found that delaying baby’s first bath in the hospital until at least 12 hours after birth led to an increased breastfeeding success rate, since mom can nurse more quickly and have more time for skin-to-skin bonding.

Also according to research, the creamy, white coating on baby skin, called the vernix should not be wash off, since it helps retain heat and can serve as an additional barrier to infections. The vernix helps regulate warmth, moisture, as well as contains antioxidant and antibiotic properties.


To give your baby a sponge bath, you'll need:

A warm place with a flat surface. A bathroom or kitchen counter, changing table, or firm bed will work. Even a blanket or towel on the floor is alright. Pad hard surfaces with a blanket or towel.

A soft blanket, towel or changing pad. Spread it out for your baby to lie on.

A free hand. Always keep one hand on your baby. On a changing table, use the safety strap as well.

A sink or shallow plastic basin to hold the water. Run warm water into the basin or sink. Check the water temperature with your hand to make sure it's not too hot.

Essential supplies. Gather a washcloth, a towel — preferably with a built-in hood — mild baby shampoo, mild moisturizing soap, baby wipes, a clean diaper and a change of clothes.

Keep the baby warm at all times. Undress your baby and wrap him or her in a towel.

Only expose the parts of your baby's body you're washing. Switch on the thermostat a little bit before bath time to make the room warmer.

Wet the washcloth, wring out excess water and wipe your baby's face. Wipe each eyelid, from the inside to the outside corner.

To clean your baby's body, use plain water or a mild, moisturizing soap. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck and in the diaper area. Also wash between your baby's fingers and toes.

Once the umbilical cord has fallen off baby can graduate to a baby tub or the sink.

Never leave your baby unattended. A baby can drown in less than an inch of water – and in less than 60 seconds.


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