By Dr. Amy Kim
Whether you’ve only been home from the hospital with your tiny bundle of joy for a few days or a few weeks—eventually, you’ll have to give her a bath (scared or not). Don’t fret. Giving a baby a bath is not as hard as it seems. Just follow our top tips on giving a baby a bath (developed in collaboration with parenting experts, Moms On Call, MomsOnCall.com) and you’ll be a pro in no time! You might even enjoy it.
Plan ahead. You’ll feel more confident if you have everything you need laid out—before you even fill the tub. Here are the items you’ll want within arms-length reach:
• A baby bath tub to fit right in your full-size tub
• A small, baby washcloth
• A large, adult washcloth
• A soft bristle brush
• A 2-in-1 hair and body wash, preferably with a cap you can flip with one hand
• A baby bouncy seat on the floor of the bathroom with an adult size towel on it
Use warm water, not hot. It seems like common sense, but you need to make sure that your baby’s bath water is warm, but not too hot. You don’t need a fancy thermometer to test the water temperature. Just put your arm in. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for her. Fill the baby tub right in the bottom of your adult size tub. Just don’t fill the tub all the way up. She just needs a few inches.
Always support their head. In the beginning, you might want to tag team to give a bath. After all, these little guys are slippery. But after a while, you’ll be ready to give a bath solo. No matter who is bathing, make sure someone always, always keeps a hand behind that delicate little head to support it. And never, ever leave a baby alone in a bathtub—not even for one second.
Keep their tummy warm. Dunk that adult washcloth into the water and lay it on their belly. This will keep them warm and happy during the bath.
Start without soap. Babies aren’t very dirty, so it’s best to only use soap on the dirty parts. This will protect that delicate newborn skin from becoming dry. Dunk the small baby washcloth in the water and use it to clean the face, around the eyebrows and behind the ears. This will help to exfoliate any excess oil from those areas and help to prevent cradle cap without unnecessarily drying baby’s skin out.
Get the dirty parts. Next, squeeze some wash onto the large adult washcloth right on his belly. Use your fingers dipped in soap to clean the hands, feet, armpits, neck folds and groin.
Exfoliate the scalp. Use the same hair and body wash and squeeze a pea size amount onto the soft bristle brush. Gently scrub her scalp in a circular motion. This will also help to exfoliate excess oil and help to prevent cradle cap. Use your free hand to rinse off the soap, but be sure to avoid their eyes.
Keep bath time short. Once you’ve given a bath a few times, you’ll be able to run through this routine in five minutes or less. Contrary to what you might think, water doesn’t hydrate the skin—it dehydrates it. Keep bath time short to help keep her skin moisturized.
Use the bouncer. The baby bouncy seat on the floor of the bathroom is a great place to lift your baby. Continue to hold the back of your baby’s head with one hand and grab her thigh with the other. Lift her right onto the bouncy seat where you can wrap her up in the adult size towel. Save the cute little hooded towels until she is a toddler.
Slather on the moisturizer. Once you have your baby dried and diapered, it’s time to slather on a good moisturizer. Applying moisturizer right after the bath will help to lock moisture into the skin. Be sure to use a cream or ointment and not a lotion. Lotions are primarily made up of water and are not very effective for moisturizing.
Giving a baby a bath can be daunting at first, but don’t worry—we were all nervous at first. Bath time may become one of your favorite times of the day.
Dr. Amy is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon. She is also the first dermatologist mom to release a line of infant skincare products,
Baby Pibu, www.BabyPibu.com/, which makes a great Babytime Wash for the tub, among other items.