How to Bathe Your Newborn For the First Time

Learn how to bathe your newborn for the first time mama!

Ready to give your baby their first sponge bath?

It’s exciting and a bit frightening all at the same time!

Every mother has to sponge bathe their newborn for the first time.

Holding your precious little one’s life in your hands can be scary because they are so small and fragile!

But hey, you may find it’s not as scary as it seems. Baths keep your baby fresh and are one of the best ways to soothe and calm your baby.

Here are the 4 steps to sponge bathing a newborn.

Why Newborns Need Sponge Baths

The purpose of giving newborns sponge baths is to clean them up without getting their umbilical cord wet. It typically takes two weeks (sometimes less) for baby’s umbilical cord to fall off on its own. Until then, you want to keep it dry, un-irritated, and free of infections.

A sponge bath allows you to bathe baby more carefully without getting the belly area soaking wet.

Sponge Bathe a Newborn

Step 1: Gather All of Your Supplies

First, you want to gather all of your supplies. This step is very important! To prevent drowning, you must never leave your baby unattended in a bathtub filled with water. To keep your baby safe, you must gather all of your supplies before you begin bathing your baby.

It’s also good practice to wash your hands before giving your baby a bath.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Step 2: Fill the Bath With Water

After you’ve gathered all of your supplies, place the baby bath where you will be bathing your baby. Make sure you place it on a flat surface.

Next, fill the bath with lukewarm water (not hot water). Do not fill the tub, put your baby in, and attempt to carry the bath to the place where you will bathe your baby.

It’s better to fill the bath with water at the spot where you’ll bath your baby and then put your baby in the water. You also don’t want to fill the tub all the way to the top with water to prevent drowning and you need to be careful not to submerge baby’s umbilical cord.

Step 3: Wash and Rinse

Next, carefully undress baby and take off your baby’s diaper. Carefully place your baby into the bath without getting the umbilical cord wet.

Make sure to always support your baby’s head. Start by wetting two cotton balls in warm water. Take one hand to support your baby’s head. With the other hand, take one of the wet cotton balls and gently wipe around your baby’s eyes to remove any gunk that may be there.

Then move on to clean the next eye. After that, you can clean your baby’s ears. Then set aside the cotton balls to throw away after later.

Take one wash cloth and wet half of it in the water. This will be used to wash baby.

Wet half of the second cloth as well which will be used for rinsing your baby.

Take the wash cloth and add your baby’s body wash to it.

Ring it out so it does not drip all over your baby. Go ahead and continue washing your baby starting with the areas that are the least dirty.

Use the rinsing cloth after you’ve washed each area. Again, you’ll want to make sure you ring the cloth out well so that it doesn’t do much dripping.

Wash your baby’s genitals last.

Step 4: Dry and Diaper

After you’ve washed and rinsed your baby’s entire body, you’re almost done, mama!

Next, carefully remove your baby from the bath while supporting your baby’s head.

Remember to be even more careful now because your baby is wet and slippery.

Take your baby from the bath and place him or her directly on a towel. The last steps are to dry your baby and put a dry, clean diaper on. It’s better not to cover the umbilical cord with the diaper.

If your baby has a rash and needs a cream, remember to dry the diaper area completely before putting on the cream.

Step 5: Put on Baby’s Clothes

Lastly, you can put on a clean outfit once your baby is all dry! Here some additional tips on how to bathe your newborn baby.

Avoid Infections

Make sure every item you use for baby is clean and/or sanitized. This includes the bathtub (before and after use), clothing, wash clothes, towels, and that each diaper is clean.

If for some reason the umbilical cord does get wet, don’t panic. You’re not the first mom to face this. 🙂

Just make sure it stays clean and allow it to dry fully.

Choose a Warm Room

You don’t want your baby to feel cold or uncomfortable during bath time. Then it’d be no fun! Make sure to choose a warm room that does not have a fan or the air conditioning on.

Don’t Leave Unattended

As I mentioned earlier, you should never leave your baby unattended, even for just a few seconds. This could result in accidental drowning.

Avoid Drowning

Overall, you should go to every length to prevent drowning. If you’re having a child help give baby a bath, don’t trust them to bathe your baby unattended.

Avoid Bathing too Often

Baths are lovely, but did you know you can actually bathe your baby too often?! Babies only need baths about 3-4 times per week. I’d make exceptions if your baby has a blowout diaper and it just makes sense to take a dip in the bath.

Anything more than that and you could risk drying out your baby’s skin.

Having fun Bathing Your Baby!

Now you know how to sponge bathe a newborn, mama! Bath time is a great time to bond with your baby. 🙂

It may take some getting used to because your baby is so tiny. But after a while, you’ll feel more comfortable.

Once the umbilical cord falls off and your baby grows, it becomes easier. Congratulations on your little one, mama! Enjoy every moment as you give your baby a bath.

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Elna is a mom to twins who blogs and writes for a living. She loves all things mom. While she's not blogging, you can find Elna meal planning, organizing and helping other moms in her Facebook group, Mom to Mompreneurs.

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1 Comments

Hey Elna. I remember, with both my children how terrified I was at bathing them for the first time. There are so many questions and worries that run through your mind like “How do I hold them?” “Is the bath water too hot?” “Am I going to accidentally drop them when I get them out?” I actually missed out on the joy of bathing them for the first time because of all this anxiety around it and bath time became a daddy treat because he is out at work all day. I wish I had found this post sooner, as it may have made some of my worries disappear. At least now, I get to have fun bath times with lots of bubbles, splashing and playing.Reply to Ema-Rae