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New Baby Bathing and Hygiene 101

Bathing newborn

​​You'll never forget your baby's first bath. It's one of those special milestones that are a part of life. Plus, bathing and hygiene time are wonderful bonding moments for a baby with mom, dad, siblings and other caregivers. Here are basic tips on how to best handle bathing and hygiene with your newborn.

Bathing Frequency

  • Bathe baby about every three or four days. Their skin is sensitive and dry, especially during the first few weeks.

  • Because it was exposed to amniotic fluid in the womb, baby's first layer of skin sheds during the first two or three weeks.

  • When bathing, start with their face using a washcloth with water only, no soap.

  • Using a mild soap, wash their hair, and then start working your way down their body.

  • While you're still at the hospital post-delivery, ask if they can demonstrate a proper bath for you. Many hospitals do this as a matter of course.

Swaddle Bathing

  • This is the gentlest way to bathe a newborn since they don't get as cold.

  • Wrap them in a hoodie-type towel, pulling it down or away from their body when you want to wash and rinse a certain part, tucking them back in the swaddle to dry. It's cozier and warmer, especially in winter.

  • Bathwater temperature is something you'll want to be sure and monitor closely. The preferred temperature for baby's bath is about 100 degrees, similar to body temperature.

  • Use the back of your hand to measure temperature. Dip it into the bathwater. If it's comfortable, it will be comfortable for your baby.


  • Use unscented or minimal scent to reduce the risk of a reaction.

  • There's no one recommended shampoo, but Johnson & Johnson and Aveeno Baby products are popular and safe.

  • If your baby has sensitive skin, you can try Cetaphil or CeraVe. Be sure to consult your pediatrician if you have questions.

Nail trimming

  • Use a small emery board first to file your baby's nails. There's also a technique for gently tearing the nails; newborns' nails are almost paper-thin. Ask your pediatrician or nurse to demonstrate this before you leave the hospital. 

  • A newborn's nails thicken after a few weeks to a month. At first, clipping should be a two-person job using an infant nail clipper. Look for one that has a magnifying glass to help you make sure you're clipping the nail.

  • If you accidentally clip baby's skin, don't let it shake you up. Just get a cold, wet paper towel and wrap it, using a little pressure. This will stop any bleeding. Use an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment on it as it heals.

  • Spending time with your newborn on these cleansing and hygiene rituals will help you bond with your baby and create special times you'll hold dear for years to come.​

3-6 Months;Infant and Toddler Care;Newborn;Parenting;Skin Care Pediatrics



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