Your baby’s first bath: an ultimate guide for young parents.

Your baby’s first bath is always an exciting event, especially when it comes to your first child. And young parents, of course, has a lot of questions: what temperature the water should be, how to bathe the baby for the first time, how long, what bath essentials are needed, etc.

baby's first bath

So, what you need to know about your baby’s first bath?

First of all, to make bathing fun for you and the baby, prepare emotionally. That is, do not worry, do not be afraid and do not collect around the bath too many relatives. The baby’s first bath usually does not occur on the day of coming home from the hospital. Do not bathe your baby if her umbilical stump has not fallen or if a circumcised newborn’s penis hasn’t healed. Immunity of the child is not yet ready to meet with the “inhabitants” of tap water (even boiled), and an open umbilical wound will be the gateway to infection. So, during the first two weeks, use wet napkins or water-soaked soft washcloths for cleanups. Once your baby’s umbilical cord is healed, your baby can have his first real bathing!

To begin with:

  1.      Feed your baby, before bathing, so he will not get hungry and starts crying.  
  2.      Prepare a room or a bathroom for your baby’s first bath (many bathe newborns on the kitchen counter, though some pediatricians do not recommend it because of high temperatures in the kitchen). If the bathroom floors are slippery, then do not forget about the rubber mat.
  3.      If you decide to bath your baby in the room, warm the air and put bathtub on the flat surface, it can be a table, even floor.
  4.      Use a slide or a child’s hammock. If you do not use a slide or a hammock, put a chair not to get tired, as holding the baby bending over the bathtub is very hard.
  5.      For baby’s first bath choose a special baby bathtub. It has compact dimensions, which allows you to always keep it clean. After each bath, wash the bathtub with hot water, and once a week clean with baking soda.
  6.      Before starting, prepare all the necessary essentials for the baby’s first bath and put them nearby. So do not take out your naked baby with you to take something that you have forgotten. If, nevertheless, you forgot something, never, under no excuse, leave the child alone in the bathtub, even for one minute! Scoop up her in a blanket and take with you.
  7.       Fill your bathtub with water.
  8.      For your baby’s first bath it is better to use boiled water until the umbilical wound heals (usually 1-4 weeks after birth). If you have any doubts about the quality of your tap water, then install a filter on the faucet.
  9.      Put a thick diaper or towel on the bottom of the bathtub, so your baby does not slip in it.
  10.  The water should be warm. The most comfortable temperature for baby’s first bath is 37°C. In the future, you can reduce it (but not below 34°C). Anyway, test the water temperature using the thermometer (it is better to purchase it even before delivery). In the absence of a thermometer, lower your elbow into the water (not your fingertips) and already in your senses decide whether the water is comfortable or not.
  11.  Bathing should be daily during the first year of your baby’s life. Bathing with soap and shampoo no more than once a week. Under the ban are antibacterial agents that have an aggressive effect on the skin, and soaps with harsh odors.
  12.  Stop your choice on a special shampoo, gels, and soap for children. Be careful with additives.
  13.  It is generally believed that newborns should be bathed in water with the addition of potassium permanganate or herbal decoction. Today pediatricians do not recommend to use potassium permanganate since it badly dries the sensitive skin of the newborn. However, sometimes you need to use herbal decoctions, such as chamomile, bay leaf, bur-marigold, if your baby has dry skin, intertrigo or diathesis.
  14.  The duration of the first bathing should be 5-7 minutes, then the time of water procedures can be gradually increased up to 30-40 minutes (provided that the process itself gives pleasure to all participants).

What do you need for your baby’s first bath?

  1.      Baby soap or shampoo (or two in one)
  2.      Sponge or cotton washcloths (1 or two)
  3.      Plastic basin filled with  water
  4.      Towels (preferably hooded)
  5.      Diaper
  6.      Clean clothes
  7.      Cream or ointment for diaper rash 

essentials for bathingHow to hold a baby?

If you do not use a hammock, hold your baby on your left arm. Grab his left shoulder and fix your palm under his armpit. At the same time, the head of the child should be above your wrist. Support the bottom with your right arm, fingers wrapping his left thigh. Thus you will prevent possible slipping of the babe in the bathtub.

baby in bathtub

How to wash?

Gently immerse the child in the water. In order not to frighten her, you can leave her diaper on until it gets wet gradually then take it off. Sing her a song or bathing rhymes, talk to her approvingly, while gently looking in her eyes. If possible, let her hold you by the finger while bathing. It will calm her down.

First, wash the baby with the clean water. Then soap sparingly a piece of soft tissue or your hand. Wash the body first, not the head, so your child doesn’t catch a cold. Gently moving from neck to leg, wash behind the ears, the neck, the hands, then under armpits, the chest and sides, the groin area. Pay special attention to all her small skin folds.

Use a clean soft cloth to wash genitals. If you have a girl, wash her from front to back. If a boy, do not try to pull back his penis foreskin. Just wash it to remove soiling. If your baby is circumcised don’t use soap.  Treat the wound with petroleum jelly after the bath.

At last, wash baby’s head. Gently massage with fingertips his head, don’t be afraid you’ll not harm fontanels (soft gasps on the infant skull). Rinse the washcloths off foam and clean baby’s nostrils, face and eyes gently wiping from the inner part of the eye to the outer. Never use cotton swabs for cleaning the baby’s ears!


Rinse the baby thoroughly with water in a plastic basin. Rinse his hair gently washing off the foam from the forehead to the nape. The temperature of rinsing water should be 1°C lower than in the bath. Carefully lift her out of the bathtub in the same way you put her in it and wrap in a hooded towel. If possible ask someone to help you at this stage, as the baby becomes very slippery after the bath. Dry her body by patting not rubbing the skin. Don’t forget to dry thoroughly to all the skin folds, paying attention to the groin area. Don’t use any creams or ointments to treat baby’s sensitive skin until it is recommended by your pediatrician.

how to rinse baby

Dressing and diapering.

Put on a fresh diaper and dress your little one in clean clothes. Scoop your little bundle of happiness in a blanket and hug him and give a kiss.  Your cutie pie is now clean, blooming and full of positive emotions.

mother+dressing her baby after bath

  1.      If the water is hot, your baby will express his protest with a loud cry, his skin will turn red, appear lethargic. The child usually cringes, begins to tremble, and the nasolabial triangle turns bluish if the water is cold.
  2.      If your baby doesn’t like bathing for the first time and crying intensely do not force him. Put him out and delay bathing procedure for the next time.Continue cleaning him with sponge or washcloths, until he gets used to the bathing and enjoys it.
  3.      Once again: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the bath!!! A child can drown in very small amount of water and in less than in 60 seconds.  
  4.      If your baby pees in the bath just keep going, urine is sterile.  Drain the tub, if he poops, don’t be afraid he will not get sick since it doesn’t get in his mouth.
  5.      If your baby poops before bathing, wash his bottom separately, then put him in the bathtub.

Dear mommies, we’ll be happy to hear about your experience of your baby’s first bath!

baby boy under towel

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