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7 Questions Every New Parent Asks About Baby Baths

7 Questions Every New Parent Asks About Baby Baths

Words Chrisanne Grisé

Bathtime can be fun for both you and your baby. From how often to bathe your baby to the temperature of the bath water, we’ve got answers that will help you safely make a splash with your little one.

Giving your baby a bath might seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, you can turn it into a relaxing ritual that the whole family enjoys. Here’s what you need to know to keep your little one safe and happy.

When Should I Start Bathing My Baby?

Once your baby’s umbilical cord has fallen off—usually within a few weeks of birth—you can start giving her baths in a tub. (Before that, you should stick with sponge baths.) Look for a tub that’s built to safely transition from the newborn to the early toddler stage, and that won’t clutter up your bathroom when bathtime is over.

toddler in tub

How Often Should I Bathe My Baby?

Two or three baths a week are enough for most newborns, as long as you keep their face, hands and diaper area clean. (An on-the-go wipes dispenser can help with that.) Bathing your baby too frequently can dry out his skin, so you want to avoid putting him in the tub more than necessary. But as he gets older, you can increase the amount of baths you give him each week. By the time he’s a toddler, you’ll probably be giving him a bath just about every night.

What Temperature Should Bath Water Be?

Your baby has sensitive skin, so you want to aim for about 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check the temperature by dipping your elbow or wrist in—it should feel warm, not hot. Fill the tub with as little water as possible, and remember to continue monitoring the temperature during the bath, so it doesn’t get too cool.

holding baby in tub

How Do I Hold My Baby in the Tub?

Always make sure you’re supporting your little one’s head and neck. If you’re bathing your baby in the sink, use your nondominant arm to hold him. (You can hold onto his opposite arm if that feels more secure.) Then use your other arm to soap and scrub. If possible, you may want to ask another adult to help out. Babies get slippery in the tub, so it never hurts to have an extra pair of hands.

Which Soap Should I Use?

Look for mild baby washes and shampoos that don’t have added perfumes or dyes, which can irritate your little one’s sensitive skin. Dab some soap onto a washcloth, work it into a lather, and use one hand to gently scrub your newborn; your other arm should cradle her head. Once or twice a week, you can also wash her hair by massaging a small amount of tear-free shampoo onto her scalp. Hint: Try shampooing at the end, so she doesn’t have to sit in soapy water for a long time.

bath toy bin in tub with baby

How Do I Keep My Baby Safe?

You want to keep a hand on your little one at all times, and never leave your baby unattended in the bath. Washing your baby with just one hand can get tricky, so it’s best to set up everything you’ll need (soap, towels, diapers, etc.) before you start. Bath toy bins can help keep items dry and close by. Once you’re done bathing, immediately drain the tub to prevent drowning, and dry him off thoroughly so he doesn’t get too cold.

Is it Better to Bathe My Baby in the Morning or at Night?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Some babies like to splash around energetically in the mornings; others tend to mellow out in the bath, making it a good pre-bed ritual. You may also want to consider your schedule and pick a time where you’ll be most focused on your little one. Ultimately, this is a decision that’s up to your family.

Check out more of ideas for how to make bathtime fun and stress-free for you and your baby.

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By Chrisanne Grisé

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