Baby Bathing 101: Everything You Need to Know

ByJanroe CabilesJanuary 10, 2022
baby bathing in bath tub
There are many questions that arise for first-time mamas about bathing their newborns, and it may seem daunting at first. But like anything in motherhood, it’s a matter of preparation and practice. Once you gather everything you need and go through it successfully, you’ll get the hang of it. After all, holding your baby is one of the most natural feelings in the world. You just have an added objective of cleaning and protecting their skin!
Are you bathing your baby for the first time? Or are you looking for tips to make it easier? Find the answer to all your questions, from what you need, how to choose the right baby products, to how to transition your baby from tubs to showers!

Bathing a Newborn Baby

Once new moms get over the first-time jitters, bathing can become a special time. No distractions, just you and your baby. Cooing, singing, and talking can calm them down and enjoy the bath more. Make sure to never take your eyes off them (meaning no phones in the bathroom), and have all your items within reach.

How to Give a Sponge Bath

Sponge baths are perfect for the first few weeks until baby's navel heals completely, or if the parents choose to let the umbilical cord fall off. For male infants, if circumcision was done right after birth, this is preferable too.

What You Need:

Fill tub with only a couple inches of warm water. Gently lower them with support using your arm around the head and neck. Using a sponge or washcloth, cleanse one area thoroughly at a time. Start from the neck down, then the arms and legs (paying special attention to the insides of the knees and elbows), then the belly, bottom, and private parts. Save the head for last so that the baby doesn't get too cold. Whether or not hair has grown already, it still needs to be cleansed. Make sure to tilt the head back to avoid getting water in the eyes. Then you're done! Gently pat dry with the towel and avoid rubbing, and cover head with the hood.

How to Give Baby a Bath in the Tub

After your baby's navel and other appendages are healed, you can now start with tub time! This will be your medium of bathing for awhile, and arguably the fun way of giving them a bath! But at the start, it will be an adjustment for both of you. The same rules apply: keep everything you need within reach and give your undivided attention to your baby.

What You Need:

Again, fill tub with warm water until it's a up to few inches. Remember that baby's skin is sensitive so don't run water too warm. Once you have the desired temperature (just a little cooler than what is warm to an adult's touch), use a thermometer to keep consistent.
Lower baby into the tub and clean face as you would when you sponge-bathed. Wash the body with mild soap and washcloth. It's important to totally clean the rolls behind the neck, and inside the arms and legs. Dirt and dead skill cells tend to accumulate in those areas, and cause irritation. That could later cause infection like cellulitis or worsen any case of eczema, so to prevent that, gently rub any buildup.
For the intimate areas, how you clean is different. Cleanse the boys' as any part of the body, but for girls, always wipe their genitals from front to back without soap to prevent irritation. After, pat baby dry and use hypoallergenic lotion to lock in the moisture. Make sure not to leave baby exposed to the air unclothed for too long. Use diaper cream before dressing and you're good to go.
For any parent, the decision of what products to use is a heavy one. Our babies deserve only the best, but what is the best? There's no one answer, especially for our concept of hiyang or what is most compatible or suitable to them. And unlike our own products, our baby's usage is too risky for the trial and error process. So for choosing the right one, there are a couple of factors to look into and make the decision for yourself.
Still want to see what works for other mamas? Check out 10 Mama-Approved Bath Products for Newborns here.
The most basic factor to consider is how natural it is. Organic, toxin-free products are a must for your baby's delicate skin. Baby wash or shampoos without fragrance are ideal, but not a must. But always look for what chemicals were used to add the fragrance – anything synthetic is a no-no.
Social-proofing is also the safest basis of research. Look for good reviews or ask for recommendations, while always keeping your baby in mind. More often than not, vitamin-boosted bath products are desired. And if you do find a product that seems to check all your boxes, it's safer to stick to that brand to make sure that the formulas don't clash and create any reaction to your baby's skin. For either soap or shampoo, use tear-free products for as long as possible.
The best baby bath tub doesn't really exist, because the best baby tub for you could be different for another mama. It depends on what you're looking for! But a must-have is one one that fits into a sink or a normal-sized tub for your convenience and their safety. There must be a contoured head rest to keep child's head above water, and a slip-resistant floor to keep child from slipping. Most tubs have drains for easy finishing. For infants, many parents opt to get a baby bath net, with good reason! It gives you extra support should your arms get slippery during the bath, and it serves as the perfect hammock for their size at that age.
For babies 6 months and up or when they can support their upper body, many recommend bigger baby tubs. Collapsible bath tubs are space-saving and versatile as babies grow up, and some even fit adults for mommy and baby bonding!
Like baby wash and shampoo, the best for your baby could be different from another! But they should always be easy-to-apply, safe for sensitive skin, and free of allergens.
For newborns, it's safest to look for products specific for newborns, until they are at least a month-old before changing to other baby lotions. Examples of this are Mustela's Hydrabebe Body Lotion. For sensitive skin or babies with eczema, fragrance-free products are your best bet as fragrance is not a necessity. But please be noted that lotion is not a substitute treatment for eczema! For babies without eczema, organic baby lotion is an optimal choice. And lastly, for any allergies, it's always best to keep a log of both food and products used to see what triggers it.
Because of baby's sensitive skin, it's unnecessary to put too many products, with the risk of applying harsher ingredients or chemicals. Aside from lotion, special baby creams can be used on dry spots and especially the areas prone to rashes, like diaper cream. Soothing creams for delicate skin, like Aveeno Baby is ideal while Cetaphil Baby products are known for their gentle formulas.
Oral care for babies is also important. Even without teeth, use soft cloth to clean gums after feeding or every morning and night. Soft finger toothbrushes can also be used for more effective cleaning when teeth appear, which is more or less 6 months old. At 18 months and up, use baby low-fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities in milk teeth as they grow.
Now that we've covered everything you need to know about baby bathing, get ready! Once you get the hang of it, we promise it will become a beautiful time of bonding and nourishing your baby. If your baby is nearing toddler age, find out how to keep it safe and fun here, and find the best hair, body, and skin products at edamama.
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