Be sure to read our article on safe bathing before you get started. The most important safety tip is never to leave your baby alone in the bath – not even for a minute.
How often to bathe your baby
In many families, a bath becomes the focus of a nightly bedtime routine. But from a cleanliness perspective, until your baby is crawling around and getting into messes, a bath isn't really necessary more than a few times a week. Just wash his face frequently, clean anywhere there are skin folds, and thoroughly clean his genital area after each diaper change.
Where to bathe your baby
It makes sense to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub. A standard bathtub requires you to kneel or lean awkwardly over your baby and gives you less control over his movements.
How to give your baby a bath
Here's how to do it and what you'll need to make baby-bathing easy. With any luck, bath time will become one of the most enjoyable parts of your days together:
1. Gather all necessary bath supplies, and lay out a towel, a clean diaper, and clothes. Make sure the room is comfortably warm so your baby doesn't get chilled.
A nurse and mother of four demonstrates the best ways to wash your new baby.
2. Fill the tub with about 3 inches of water that feels warm but not hot to the inside of your wrist – about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) or a few degrees warmer.
3. Bring your baby to the bath area and undress her completely.
4. Gradually slip your baby into the tub feet first, using one hand to support her neck and head. Pour cupfuls of bath water over her regularly during the bath so she doesn't get cold.
5. Use mild soap sparingly (too much dries out your baby's skin). Wash her with your hand or a washcloth from top to bottom, front and back. Start by washing her scalp with a wet, soapy cloth. Rinse the soap from the cloth and use it to gently clean her eyes and face. If dried mucus has collected in the corner of your baby's nostrils or eyes, dab it several times with a small section of a moistened washcloth to soften it before you wipe it out. As for your baby's genitals, a routine washing is all that's needed.
6. Rinse your baby thoroughly with cupfuls of clean water, and wipe her with a clean washcloth.
7. Wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat her dry. If her skin is dry, or if she has a bit of diaper rash, you may want to apply a mild lotion after her bath.