How Often Baby Bath

There’s no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby’s skin.

There’s no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out his or her skin.

There’s no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile.

How often does my newborn need a bath? A few times a week should be plenty until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too often can dry out his/her skin.

You don’t actually need to give your newborn a bath every day. They don’t really get that dirty and only need a full wash about three times a week. 

Experts recommend that your baby takes three baths a week until he or she begins crawling. Bathing too often can dry out your newborn’s sensitive skin, especially if you use soap every time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using soap only once or twice a week to prevent dryness, peeling and rashes.

First baths

While longtime best practice has been to bathe baby right after delivery, newer research suggests that delaying the first bath may be beneficial.

2019 study including nearly 1,000 babies found that waiting at least 12 hours after birth may promote breastfeeding. Additionally, another 2019 studyTrusted Source including 73 infants suggested that a bath after 48 hours helps keep newborns at a steady temperature and aids skin development.

At any rate, it’s likely that the nurses will give baby their first bath, but you can always watch what they do and ask for tips for bathing at home.

Once you get home, you’ll want to bathe your newborn one to two times per week until their umbilical stump falls off. Until this happens, don’t submerge their body in water. Instead, use a warm washcloth and give them a gentle sponge bath starting with their head and face and working your way downward.

If baby spits up or dribbles milk as they feed, you can wipe them down a little more frequently, taking particular care of their face and neck areas. If the mess is coming from the other end, you may need to give a bath to clean up diaper blowouts as well. But unless there is a mess, they really don’t need a daily bath at this age.

1 to 3 months

During the early months of your baby’s life, you’ll want to continue bathing them one to two times per week. Once they no longer have their umbilical stump, you can begin giving them more traditional baths.

To do this, fill a baby bathtub partway with warm water and let them sit and splash as you wash them all over with water and a gentle baby soap. You can use damp washcloths to cover them and keep them warm during the bath. Again, you can start with their face and head and work your way downward.

Another way to bathe baby at this age is to bring them into the bath or shower with you. If you choose to bathe or shower with your little one, it can help to have a set of hands to pass your baby to when you’re ready to get out of the tub. They can be very slippery, so it’s important to be extra cautious.

It’s also important to remember that adults generally prefer much warmer water than babies do. Aim to keep the temperature lukewarm, and your babe will likely be happy for the bath time cuddles.

3 to 6 months

As your little one grows, you may want to change up their bath routine a little bit. At this age babies still only need a bath one to two times per week, but if they seem to enjoy the water or like splashing as they get clean, you can consider bathing them more frequently.

Many parents also take advantage of diaper and outfit changes to give their baby a quick wipe down and make sure that all their important parts are clean. If you do choose to bathe your little one more than twice a week, consider using soap for only one or two of their baths to avoid drying out their skin. After bath time, you can moisturize baby with a gentle, fragrance- and dye-free lotion.

6 to 12 months

Once baby becomes mobile and starts eating solids, you may decide you need to begin bathing them more frequently. While they still only really need one to two soapy baths per week, you can either give them a sponge bath or put them in the tub to soak and rinse off more frequently as messes arise.

You might also find that bath time is a pleasant way to calm baby down before bedtime. If this works for you, it’s perfectly OK to make a bath part of your calming nighttime routine at this age.

Why not every day?

While it may feel odd to bathe your baby so infrequently, babies simply don’t need to bathe as often as adults. They don’t sweat or get dirty in the same way as older people, and their skin is much more sensitive than that of adults. Frequent bathing can actually do more harm than good.

To avoid drying out baby’s skin and worsening conditions like eczema, bathe your little one to two times per week and wash them with a mild, fragrance- and dye-free soap. When you get them out of the bath, pat them dry before applying a dye- and fragrance-free baby moisturizer and promptly dressing them.

If your little one has a known skin condition, consult their pediatrician to make a plan for exactly what products and routines you can follow to help them stay comfortable.

Bathing tips

Bathing a baby is a delicate process. You want to be sure that your little one is getting squeaky clean, but you also need to be sure that you’re being gentle and that baby is comfortable. Check out the tips below to make bathing an easier and more effective process:

  • Start at the top. Experts recommend starting any bath by gently washing your little one’s hair and face. After that, use a washcloth to work your way downward, soaping and rinsing your baby as you go.
  • Focus on the folds. Most babies have rolls or folds along their thighs, neck, and wrists. These folds are adorable but can also trap bacteria, dead skin cells, and things like spit-up and dribbled milk. As you bathe your little one, focus on thoroughly washing and rinsing their folds and rolls.
  • Don’t forget the hands and feet. Babies tend to suck on their fingers and toes, so it’s extra important to get these parts clean. Use a soapy washcloth and gently spread their fingers and toes to make sure you get their hands and feet as clean as possible.
  • Try the sink. If you have a portable baby bathtub, chances are it fits neatly in your kitchen skin. Try giving your back a break by bathing your little one in the sink instead of the bathtub while they’re still young enough to be immobile. Once your little one can roll or scoot, it’s time to move baths into the tub to avoid any accidents.
  • Give co-bathing a shot. There’s nothing sweeter than enjoying a nice warm bath with your little one. Once your babe is able to take a real bath, consider hopping in with them and washing and cleaning them from within the tub. If you don’t feel comfortable being nude with your little one, you can always hop into a swimsuit for the occasion.
  • Be careful with siblings. If your baby has an older sibling, you may want to save time and energy by bathing them together. Once your little one can sit comfortably on their own, this is usually fine. Although, before your baby is able to sit on their own, you’ll want to skip sibling baths to avoid your baby being bumped, jostled, or splashed as they adjust to the water.
  • Aim for mild products. When selecting the soap, shampoo, and lotion you’ll use for your baby, aim for products that are dye- and fragrance-free. While scented bubble bath products might be lots of fun for a toddler, they can dry out or irritate an infant’s skin and should be avoided. Whatever you choose, be consistent and do your best to avoid trying out new products if the ones you have work well and don’t irritate your baby’s skin.

Remember to never leave baby in the bath untended, even briefly.

When Should You Start Bathing Your Baby Every Day?

6 to 12 months

Once baby becomes mobile and starts eating solids, you may decide you need to begin bathing them more frequently. While they still only really need one to two soapy baths per week, you can either give them a sponge bath or put them in the tub to soak and rinse off more frequently as messes arise.

Few things are more nerve-wracking than bathing a newborn. Not only can they feel impossibly fragile, you may worry about whether they’re warm or comfortable enough and if you’re doing a sufficiently thorough job.

Whether you’re bathing your first baby for the first time or are on baby number three, you may still have newborn bathing questions, the most pressing being, “How often should I bathe my baby?”

How often does my newborn need a bath?

There’s no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby’s skin.

If you’re quick and thorough with diaper changes and burp cloths, you’re already cleaning the parts that need attention — the face, neck and diaper area. Between baths, you may also check the folds of your baby’s skin, including thighs, groin, armpits and chin. If needed, clean these areas with a wet washcloth.

Is it better to bathe my baby in the morning or at night?

That’s up to you. Choose a time when you’re not rushed or likely to be interrupted. Some parents opt for morning baths, when their babies are alert. Others prefer to make baby baths part of a calming bedtime ritual. If you bathe your baby after a feeding, consider waiting for your baby’s tummy to settle a bit first.

Is a sponge bath good enough?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump falls off — which might take a week or two. To give your baby a sponge bath, you’ll need:

  • A warm place with a flat surface. A bathroom or kitchen counter, changing table, or firm bed will work. Even a blanket or towel on the floor is OK. Pad hard surfaces with a blanket or towel.
  • A soft blanket, towel or changing pad. Spread it out for your baby to lie on.
  • A free hand. Always keep one hand on your baby. On a changing table, use the safety strap as well.
  • A sink or shallow basin to hold the water. Run warm water into the basin or sink. Check the water temperature with your hand to make sure it’s not too hot.
  • Essential supplies. Gather a washcloth, a towel — preferably with a built-in hood — fragrance-free baby shampoo and soap, baby wipes, a clean diaper, and a change of clothes.

Undress your baby and wrap him or her in a towel. Lay your baby on his or her back in the prepared area. To keep your baby warm, only expose the parts of your baby’s body that you’re washing. Wet the washcloth with plain, warm water. Then wring out excess water and wipe your baby’s face. Wipe each eyelid from the inside to the outside corner.

To clean your baby’s body, use a dampened washcloth dipped in plain or soapy water. If you use soap, make sure it’s mild and moisturizing. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck and in the diaper area. Also wash between your baby’s fingers and toes.

What type of baby tub is best?

Once your baby is ready for a bath, you might use a plastic tub or the sink. Line the tub or sink with a clean towel. Gather the supplies you’d use for a sponge bath, a cup of rinsing water and baby shampoo, if needed, ahead of time. This will allow you to keep one hand on the baby at all times. Never leave your baby alone in the water.

How much water should I put in the tub?

A common recommendation is 2 inches (about 5 centimeters). During bath time, always be sure to give your baby undivided attention and hold your baby securely. If you forget something you need for the bath, take your baby with you. Never leave your baby alone in the tub even for an instant.

What about water temperature?

Warm water is best. To prevent scalding, set the thermostat on your water heater to below 120 F (49 C). Always check the water temperature with your hand before bathing your baby. Aim for bath water around 100 F (38 C). Be sure the room is comfortably warm, too. A wet baby can be easily chilled.

What’s the best way to hold my newborn in the tub?

A secure hold will help your baby feel comfortable — and stay safe — in the tub. Use your nondominant arm to support your baby’s head and neck and the other to hold and guide your baby’s body into the water, feet first. Continue supporting your baby’s head and back as needed. You might reach behind your baby and hold on to his or her opposite arm throughout the bath.

What should I wash first?

Most parents start with the baby’s head and face and move down to dirtier parts of the body. This keeps rinsed areas from getting soapy again.

Should I wash my newborn’s hair?

If your newborn has hair and you think it needs washing, go ahead. With your free hand, gently massage a drop of mild baby shampoo into your baby’s scalp. Rinse the shampoo with a cup of water or a damp washcloth, cupping one hand across your baby’s forehead to keep suds out of his or her eyes.

Will lotion after a baby bath help prevent rashes?

Most newborns don’t need lotion after a bath. If your baby’s skin is very dry, apply a small amount of unscented baby moisturizer to the dry areas. The massage might make your baby feel good. If dryness continues, you might be bathing your baby too often.

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