Newborn babies don't get very dirty, so as long as you clean your baby's bottom thoroughly at each diaper change, you probably won't need to bathe her more than two or three times a week. And the bath only has to be long enough to wipe off any debris and peeling skin that's collected. Likewise, your baby's hair (if she has any) won't need to be shampooed at every bath; just do it whenever it seems necessary. While most babies will quickly learn to love bath time, don't be surprised if yours squirms or cries at first — all that water takes some getting used to!
Here are a few more tips to make bath time safe and pleasant for both of you:
- While your baby still has her umbilical cord attached, quick sponge baths (with your baby lying securely on a soft padded surface) let you avoid submerging the cord stump, which needs to stay dry.
- When your baby's cord has fallen off, she'll be ready for a true bath: Use a bathinette, sink, or plastic tub lined with a towel and filled with about two inches of water.
- Always bathe your baby in a warm, draft-free room, and have a dry towel handy to wrap her in immediately following her bath. Placing a warm, wet washcloth over your baby's stomach during her bath may help prevent her from becoming chilled.
- To clean your baby, use a soft washcloth or sponge. Rinse each part of your baby in turn, gently sponging off any visible flakes of skin. Be sure to check behind her ears, between her fingers and toes, under her arms, and in the folds of her neck and thighs, where debris often collects.
- Keep one hand on your baby at all times — she could slip into the water in a heartbeat — and never leave your baby alone in the bath, even for a moment. If you have to leave the room, take her with you.
- After your baby's bath, gently pat her dry. You may want to moisturize her skin to help maintain its natural strength and softness.
Get more bathing basics from Dr. Anthony Mancini.