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Newborn Must Haves Part Two - Bathing & Hygiene


Bathing baby for the first time can be daunting. For me, my first son wasn't bathed for the first time until he was about a week and a half old. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that bathing him was a task I needed to do. I was in such a brain haze after his birth and stint in the NICU, I was just trying to get through each day.

So that begs the question, when should baby have their first bath? Well, the World Health Organization suggests that baby not have their first bath for at least 24-48 hours after birth. The reason for this is because what baby is covered in, amniotic fluid, vernix and what not, acts as an antibacterial layer to protect them from being in the hospital and all the people they will come in contact with. Plus, the smell and natural coating can help with initial breast/body feeding. And finally, baby's can get cold fast in the early days and we don't want to make baby too cold, which can lower their blood sugar and as a result they would need to be on formula to boost their sugars up.

The next question that comes to mind is how often should baby be bathed? Generally speaking baby does not have to be bathed every day. The dirtiest part of baby (their bum) will get cleaned multiple times a day. Baby doesn't really need to be bathed more than once every 2-3 days. Plus bathing baby more often can dry out their skin especially in the winter months.


Another common question we have for bath time is, what should the temperature of the water be? We definitely don't want it to be too cold or too hot. So something just over body temperature is usually recommended. That would ideally be, 38 degrees C or 100 degrees F. Use the inside of your wrist to test the water before putting baby in or using a cute Duckie thermometer.

So what will we need to actually bathe baby?

  • A place to bath baby.

You will want to pick a room to bathe baby that is warm so baby doesn't get too chilly. If the room you chose to bath baby in is chilly, consider using a small heater to warm the area.

  • Something that will hold water.

Using a baby tub or sink is really all you need to bath baby. I generally like a baby tub that will fit over the sink to make draining the tub and rinsing baby easier.

  • Towels

I really like creating a "towel stack" which is a regular towel that you would use as the base and then topped with a hooded towel. The hooded towel would be used to dry baby off and then the regular towel will be used to keep baby warm. Once baby is dried off, remove the damp hooded towel.

  • 3-4 wash cloths

You will want to have several wash cloths. You will want to use a different cloth on baby's face, then what you would use on baby's bum.

  • All-in-one soap

Your baby will not need a separate body wash, shampoo and conditioner. A) because they will have very little hair to start, and B) they aren't going to the clubs when this is over, they are hopefully going to bed.

  • Nail grooming kit

Every time you give baby a bath, give the nails a quick check to see if any need trimmed. It is recommended that baby's nails not be clipped for the first 2-4 weeks, file them instead. The reason is because the nail grows really close to the nail bed and you can easily clip the skin.

  • Clothes and Diapers for after

Before you get started and put baby into the tub, make sure you have their diaper, diaper cream and clothes at the ready so baby isn't being moved around your home wet and cold. Baby's aren't good at temperature regulation so we want them dried off and dressed quickly.


If baby does get too cold and shivery, you can consider doing some skin to skin with baby and wrapping a warm blanket around both of you to warm baby up.



My final recommendation for bathing baby is if things aren't going well, if your anxiety is up and baby is screaming, just stop. Rinse baby off, dry them off, re-dress them and try again tomorrow. Don't worry if the first few times are awful. Just stop and try again at another time. Your baby won't care and neither will anyone else.

Good luck!!!


For more information on Baby's Must Haves, See Part One of the series which covers Diapering!


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