How to Give Your Newborn a Bath

When I had my first baby, I did everything “by the book.” My husband and I took the birthing classes at the hospital and signed up for the Baby Care 101 class too, where you were handed a life-size baby doll to practice bathing. In all honestly, I was nauseous the whole time and for some reason was completely turned off by this 20″ plastic naked baby so “daddy” took charge and it seemed very complicated. There were all sorts of supplies and products that had to be organized and juggled, a towel that had to be laid out just so and warnings about drowning, being too cold or too hot, and making sure they don’t slip as you drain the baby tub… etc.

After we had been home from the hospital for a few days and my Sweet was becoming a little more sour than sweet. My mom announced, “It’s time!” For what? Her first bath. Auugh! Did I mention I was tired, sore and stinky?

This time, I let my mom take charge but this time… it seemed like the simplest, most natural thing in the world! After five children, her Mommy Wisdom hums like a finely tuned machine.

After wiping down a sink in our bathroom, my mom undressed my week-old daughter and wrapped her in a towel. She took a wash cloth and wet it with warm water, wrapped it around her finger and began washing her head and face, carefully around the eyes. With smooth and loving strokes, she wiped around the ears and under her chin where the milk tended to puddle.

“See? It’s easy.” She said to me. “Now you take her.” It was a really magical and poignant moment for me. There was such a stark difference between her confidence at handling my baby and my own clumsy, tentative efforts. As soon as she left my mom’s confident arms, she started squirming and wiggling and fussing! “Don’t worry, she won’t break,” My mom reminded me. I was so grateful to have her around so I didn’t have to consult “the book.” I realized that the things that were outlined, step-by-step where really quite intuitive and natural. Eliminating the pressure of doing it the “right” way, whether with the prescribed products or following the steps in just the right order made it easier for me to use the time to bond with baby… and really enjoy it.

All we used was a towel, a wash cloth and the sink. Eventually, we introduced the baby tub and the bath kit, with scrubbers and toys and what-have-you. But that came later. That first bath was simple. We giggled and laughed. My baby girl was totally at ease, comfortable and sweet again!

Oh… were you looking for the step-by-step guide? In that case, I’ll give you the basics but I would love for you to remember ONCE AGAIN, there is no one right way to do this. Moms have bathed their children in rivers and oceans around the world. Do what feels right, safe and comfortable to you. I think that is the most important part of the whole experience… for both of you. Breathe, stay calm, enjoy it… and your baby will learn to love bath time too!

Guidelines for Bath Time

  • Decide where you want to bathe your baby (kitchen sinks are a great size… just clean them first!)
  • Gather any supplies so they are handy and easily accessible
  • Have a dry towel ready to wrap her up
  • Check the water temperature since your baby’s skin is very sensitive
  • If she has cradle cap, you might want to use a mild baby shampoo and a scrub brush (but usually this clears up with time rather than scrubbing!)
  • Wash, Rinse, Dry and Moisturize!

Note: Wait to fully immerse your baby until after the umbilical stump has fallen off. And, never leave her unattended in any amount of water (I have to say that but… c’mon, you knew that already!)


  1. Great article indeed. Certainly a must read to most new mothers. You need to know the correct way with your fist child and if you decide on a new child it will be much easier with the experience with your previous child.

  2. Aww the baby in the picture is so cute. Me and my wife are expecting a new born to our family too. Been roaming around looking for articles like this to prepare our selves. Thanks a lot for the article. Cheers

  3. Giving a bath to a newborn baby is really challenging. Holding their fragile body is a bit scary. But once you’ve made it the first time, you’ll get used to it. So , it’s good to have a little practice while waiting for the baby to come out.

  4. I understand the feeling of giving bath to newborn babies. I had a midwife’s assistance when I gave birth to my second baby, simply because I was again scared of holding. It’s funny though but it’s also true to most mothers.

  5. These tips are very helpful to all new mothers. They may still have fear of holding the baby’s fragile body but at least they would have an idea on what to do. It’s also good to practice giving a bath to babies using a doll just so you would have an idea how to hold it. You can do it weeks before your due.

  6. Indeed baby’s body is really fragile that’s why a lot new mothers are scared of giving bath to their babies. However, constant practice before giving birth will help relive the tension and this will be great if the couple will practice it together. Fathers should also learn how to bath a baby so they would not rely to their in laws or midwife.

  7. Many of my clients focus on having a bath tub to bathe the baby, but really the sink is where things start. We will often make sure there is a large bathroom sink or the kitchen sink will work too.

  8. I love this article. The thought that you still need your mom (the grandparent of your child) in taking care of your child, bathing it exactly, is simply showing the bond of the family.

  9. Some babies take to bath time right away, cooing the entire time, while others scream from start to finish. Your baby’s temperament will likely decide the length of bath time each night. If you find yourself with a fussier baby, try placing your babies tub somewhere warm so they don’t get chilled as easily. This may help calm them and make bath time more enjoyable for you both.

  10. Nice post! this is very helpful to all new mothers. the baby’s fragile body but at least they would have an idea on what to do.thanks for sharing this, keep it up!