Whether you’re a new parent or going on baby number four, bath time can be a wonderful bonding experience. But there are often questions (and let’s be honest – sometimes stress) about how to navigate bath time, especially if baby is just not on board. Here are a few tips for bathing baby at every age.
Making Bath Time Safe and Fun
Use an infant tub or sink for newborns. It can be easier to bathe a newborn in the sink or in an infant bathtub. A hard plastic baby bathtub with a sloped, textured surface or sling that keeps your baby from sliding is recommended.
Always check the water temperature. You can do this by dipping the inside of your wrist or elbow into the water to make sure it isn’t too hot. Or use a bath thermometer to ensure the temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37-38 degrees Celsius).1
Use touch supervision. Before you put your baby or toddler in the bath, make sure to have towels and any other bath supplies within reach so you can keep a hand on your baby at all times. If you forgot something or need to step away for any reason, take them with you. Accidents can happen in a split second. Always use caution and ask another adult to step in if you need to leave the room.
Use soap sparingly and rinse well. Some soaps can dry out your baby’s skin. A mild, neutral-pH soap or body wash without additives is recommended by pediatricians.2 Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the skin from the top down and rinse the soap away thoroughly, cupping your hands over baby’s eyes to avoid any suds getting in. Don’t forget the creases and baby rolls!
Dry off. When all clean, wrap baby in a soft towel to keep them warm. Gently pat baby dry and apply a small amount of hypoallergenic moisturizer to help prevent dry skin.
Have fun! Bath time should be a relaxing experience. So, don’t rush it unless your baby is just not happy. If your little one is having fun, give them extra time to splash and play. That way they’ll associate bath time with a good time. Sensory-engaging bath toys promote creativity and imaginative play, making bath time something to look forward to!
Bath Tips for Every Stage
Don’t submerge your newborn’s body until her umbilical stump falls off. One to two sponge baths a week are fine until then. Use a warm washcloth to give baby a gentle wipe, starting from their head and face and working your way down.
Once baby’s umbilical stump falls off, you can give them more traditional baths in the sink or a baby bathtub. One or two times a week is fine, using gentle soap and a washcloth to clean baby.
For newborns, use one of your hands to support baby’s head and the other to guide them in feet first. For safety, you’ll want to keep most of baby’s body and face well above the water level, so use your hand or a cup to gently scoop or pour warm water over their body frequently to keep them warm.
Some parents choose to bring the baby into the bath or shower with them. This is great for saving time and for extra snuggles. If you go this route, just be extremely cautious. Babies can be slippery! Also, remember to keep the water temperature lukewarm.
At this age, just one or two baths a week is still fine. You can use diaper changes to make sure all the important bits are thoroughly clean. If you find that your baby enjoys the water, more frequent baths could be a good idea to encourage a positive association.
If you do add more bath times, consider using soap for only one or two of them and moisturize with gentle fragrance-free lotion to avoid drying out their skin.
Baby is mobile now and eating solid foods, which means more messes! At this age, babies really only need a couple of soapy baths each week, but a sponge bath or a nice soak to rinse off the mess is completely fine.
Baths can also be a nice addition to the bedtime routine at this stage as a way to calm down before going to sleep.
Bathing your toddler two to three times a week usually does the trick unless they get dirty from playing or just really enjoy bath time. Be sure to at least wipe down their faces and genitals every day.
Fill the bath to the height of your toddler’s belly button when they’re sitting down, and test the temperature before putting them in. Use a gentle soap at the end of the bath and rinse thoroughly so they aren’t sitting in it for too long.
Let your toddler take the lead. Give them some control over bath time, whether that’s adding bubbles, squeezing the soap, helping with the washcloth, or just playing with bath toys. Allowing them to make decisions will help to encourage independence and deliver a better bath time experience.
And remember safety first. Even if they can sit up by themselves, never leave them alone in the bath. Let the water out as soon as bath time is over and remove any plugs when they aren’t in use.
Dr. Brown’s Products for Bath Time
Before bath time, make sure you have everything you need on hand, including toys for entertaining and soothing lotions to keep your baby’s skin healthy afterwards. Here are a few essentials from Dr. Brown’s to make bath time fun and safe!
- Dr. Brown’s™ CleanUp Dino-Soft Baby Bath Spout Cover
- Dr. Brown’s™ CleanUp Pour & Roar Watering Can
- Dr. Brown’s ™ CleanUp Float & Hatch Dino Eggs
- Dr. Brown’s™ Natural Baby Happy Hydration Set