What to Know About Baby’s First Bath

When you’re welcoming a little one into the world, all of the first moments can be tricky territory to navigate — especially if you’re a first time parent!  Your nurses, doctor, or midwife should give you instructions on most firsts, but if you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

One of the initial big firsts is baby’s first bath!  This one can be especially nerve-wracking, as parents often view their little ones as fragile and susceptible to injury or illness.  But with a little forethought and a lot of care, you and Baby will survive the first bath just fine!

When Should You Do It?

It can even be nerve-wracking to decide when Baby’s first bath should be!  After they’re born, your midwife or nurse will wipe them off, but let vernix continue to sit on their skin and soak in — it’s great for them!  This is what you’ll wash off with their first bath.

If your little one was born full-term and has a completely clean bill of health, you can consider giving them a bath two hours after birth.  Make sure the room you choose is nice and warm — you don’t want a newborn getting cold.  However, ideally, it’s best to give the first bath sometime after your bring your little one home from the hospital or birthing center.

 

What You’ll Need

You’ll want to collect all of your necessities ahead of time, so you’re not searching for them mid-bath!  Here are the things you’ll want to have on hand — make sure you talk to your midwife or nurses to see if there are any additional needs you’ll want to accommodate for.

  • Clean washcloth or soft sponge
  • Clean clothes and diaper
  • A soft, hooded towel
  • Warm water — make sure it’s not hot

 

How to Do It

Make sure the first few times, you only sponge bathe your little one!  You’ll want to wait until their umbilical cord and circumcision (if you’ve chosen to do so), are completely healed before you submerge them.  Here’s how to get started.

  1. Only undress your little one as much as you need to and when you need to.  Take of their top to wash their torso, then their pants to wash their legs, and save the diaper for last!  This will help keep your little one as warm as possible throughout the process.  Make sure the room is pretty warm as well.
  2. Using the sponge or soft clothe, bathe one area of your little one at a time — for the first wash or two, just water is fine.  Afterwards, find a baby-safe and gentle wash, like Johnson & Johnson.  Make sure to give extra attention to creases and nooks, like elbows, ears, etc.
  3. You shouldn’t need much for those first baby hairs, but run the sponge or cloth over the top of their head to clean up anything in their hair.
  4. Wash under the diaper gently.  For girls, wipe front to back, and for boys, avoid any serious genital washing until their circumcision is healed.
  5. Use the towel to pat Baby dry!  (Don’t rub, to avoid irritating skin.)

How Often Should You Bathe Them?

Avoid washing daily — this can dry out Baby’s skin!  Instead, try to give sponge baths 2-3 times a week to start.  As they grow, their umbilical cord falls, and any circumcisions heal, you can start to give more of a bath and more often.  Gentle is always key!

 

Enjoy that sweet baby smell, Mama, you’ve survived the first bath!