Health Topics

Bathing and Cleaning Your Newborn

Bathing and Cleaning Your Newborn

Bathing Necessities

Give your baby a sponge bath every one to two days until the umbilical cord falls off. Choose a place that is safe, warm and free from drafts. Before starting, make sure you have the following supplies at hand:

  • Baby shampoo
  • Clean clothes
  • Cotton balls
  • Diaper
  • Mild soap
  • Soft washcloths
  • Two towels

Always hold or support your baby while bathing. Have your fingers under your baby’s armpit, with your thumb around your baby’s shoulder. Your other hand should support your baby’s bottom and legs.

Bath Time for Your Baby

Start by placing your baby on a towel. Use a soft cloth or a cotton ball dipped in warm water and gently wipe the eyes from the inner eye (near the tear duct) outward. Use one cotton ball or one edge of the cloth for each eye. Don’t rub your baby’s eyes.

Wipe the outside of baby’s nose and ears with a soft cloth and water only (no soap). And continue to wipe your baby’s face with plain, warm water and a soft cloth.

Wash the rest of baby’s body with mild soap, saving the diaper area for last. Clean creases, skin folds and the diaper area well. Use soap with a moisturizer that does not have perfume. Rinse the soap off well with water.

Wash your baby’s scalp and hair two or three times a week with baby shampoo. Gently loosen any oily buildup on the scalp. To rinse, squeeze water over baby’s head with a washcloth. Do not use oil or lotion on the baby’s scalp. Pat your baby’s skin dry with a towel.

Unless advised by your healthcare provider, do not use lotions, oils or powders, as they can cause irritation.

After your baby’s umbilical cord falls off and the navel has healed, you can bathe your baby in a tub filled with 3 inches of comfortably warm water. Always test the water with your elbow to make sure it’s not too hot. Use a liner in the tub for newborns to prevent baby from slipping.

Ear Care

Clean only the outer part of baby’s ears. Do not put cotton swabs or anything else into your baby’s ears – you can damage your baby’s eardrum.

Umbilical Cord Care

Keep umbilical area dry. Do not use alcohol to clean the cord. Keep the diaper folded below the umbilical cord at all times. Do not pull on the cord. Notify doctor if foul-smelling drainage is noted, if there is redness around the cord or if the cord does not fall off after three weeks.