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Baby Bath: Tips for Bathing Your Baby

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Your baby's first bath is a real milestone. But when to give it, not to mention how and where, are questions every new parent has. Cleaning a slippery, squirming, —and sometimes screaming —infant takes practice. So relax; it will get easier every time, and your baby will soon come to love splashing in the water. In this section, we answer your basic bath questions, and offer tips to help make bath time fun, safe, and easy for both of you.

When to Bathe: The Dirt on Dirty

How often you need to bathe your baby depends a lot on how old your baby is. For a newborn, two or three times a week is probably enough, as long as you keep her diaper area well-cleaned and wash her hands and face several times a day. Unless they've spit up or soiled themselves, newborns just don't get that dirty.

The older your baby is, the more regular bathing she'll need, particularly after she's started crawling and eating her first foods. By the time your baby's a toddler, you'll need to give her a bath almost every night— — if not to wash off a busy day's worth of grime, then at least to help calm her down before bedtime.

When's the best time to give a bath? In general, it's better to bathe your newborn before mealtime, if she's not too hungry. Too soon after eating and she may spit up. For older babies, a bath before bedtime works best, since it cleans them up for the night and helps soothe them. You might want to develop this evening routine: a bath, reading a story, then bedtime. But use your best judgment and give your baby a bath anytime she needs one.

How to Bathe: To Sponge or Not to Sponge?

Before your baby's umbilical cord stump falls off (between 10 days and three weeks after birth), it's best to sponge-bathe her to avoid getting the cord stump wet. Here's how:

  • Lay your baby on a soft, flat surface (on top of a clean towel works well). Have a basin of warm water and a sponge or washcloth handy.
  • Keeping your baby warmly wrapped, expose one limb at a time and gently wash it.
  • Pat the area dry and start on the next limb.
  • If you accidentally get the cord stump wet, simply use the towel to gently pat it dry. (See our article on cord care.)




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There's nothing like a fresh-out-of-the-bath baby. And it can be tempting to bathe our little ones every night. Two or three baths a week are fine, though — our babies just don't get that dirty (wait till they're toddlers!). Get more tips.
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