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Bath time for baby

You don't need to give your baby a bath every day. Too much moisture can damage an infant's sensitive skin.

Bathing your baby can be fun—and a little scary.

Some babies think bath time is loads of fun—others hate it. But, with a little practice, both you and your baby will get comfortable and enjoy bath time.

Until your baby's umbilical cord falls off, stick with sponge baths. When you're ready for the real thing, follow these suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Bathe your baby two or three times a week. More frequent washing can dry out the skin and isn't needed as long as the diaper area is cleaned well during diaper changes.
  • Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bathe your baby in a warm room.
  • Gather the supplies you'll need, and place them within reach. This includes baby soap and shampoo (if you use them), a washcloth, a towel, diapering supplies and clean clothes for the baby.
  • Fill the tub, sink or basin with 2 to 4 inches of warm (not hot) water. Turn the water off, and test the bath water with your wrist or elbow.
  • Set your baby, facing you, in the water. Get a firm hold by reaching your non-dominant hand under your baby, so your wrist and forearm support the baby's head and back, while your hand holds on to your baby's opposite arm. This gives you a firm hold throughout the bath, and it leaves your favored hand free to do the washing and rinsing.
  • Start by wiping your baby's face with a wet washcloth, then wash the body from the neck down. Using plain water is fine, but if you choose to use a cleanser, avoid getting it on the hand you're using to hold your baby. If this hand gets slippery, you could lose your grip. As you're cleaning, separate the folds in your baby's neck, armpits and groin to ensure that all areas get clean.
  • If you get soap on your baby's hands, try to rinse them quickly, before your baby touches his or her eyes or mouth.
  • Lift your baby out of the water, and wrap him or her immediately in a soft, dry towel.
  • During the entire bath, give your baby your undivided attention. That means one hand and both eyes all the time. Babies can drown quickly, even in very small amounts of water. Never leave your baby unattended in the water, even for a moment. If you must answer the phone or door, take your baby with you.

reviewed 1/13/2020

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