How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby From Birth Through Early Childhood
One of the most common questions new parents ask has recently become the focus of anongoing social media debate among celebrity parents, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, and Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell: How often should I bathe my baby?
Some parents bathe their babies daily as part of a bedtime routine or due to regular baby messes, from extra spit-up to diaper blowouts. But for most families, bathing the baby two to three times a week is plenty after the first couple of weeks of life.
In fact, we recommend delaying your newborns first full bath for at least two weeks. Newborns shed about three layers of skin within their first week, which often surprises new parents. Their skin is still adjusting to the dry air, so its perfectly normal. You can prevent further skin irritation by moisturizing your baby with chemical-free lotion and washing their clothes with a gentle, chemical-free detergent before dressing them.
After that first two-week period, its OK to bathe your baby a couple times a week. You can follow this schedule through your childs elementary school years. Of course, you should modify the bath schedule based on your babys skin health and your familys lifestyle.
How Often Do Babies Need Baths
In your babys first year, they may only need about three baths a week. This is usually frequent enough if you wash the diaper area thoroughly every time you change your baby.
Bathing once a day or every other day is also OK, but any more frequently than that could dry out your babys skin. Thats especially the case if you use soap or other baby wash.
How To Wash Babys Scalp And Hair
Plan to wash your babys scalp or hair twice a week. To wash your babys scalp or hair, gently massage a baby shampoo into their hair, if they have any, or directly onto their scalp. Rinse it out by dabbing with a wet washcloth.
In a baby tub, you can also gently tip your babys head back and keep one hand over their forehead while you pour on some warm water. The water will spill over the sides of their head to rinse out the shampoo.
Gently washing your babys hair will not hurt a soft spot, but talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns. If your baby has cradle cap, you can gently brush your babys hair and scalp. But take care not to pick or scrape at their scalp.
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When Is The Best Time Of Day To Give Your Baby A Bath
There is no one perfect time to give your baby a bathâitâs your decision. Choose a time when youâre least likely to be interrupted and when your baby is calm.
You may like to give your baby a bath in the daytime because sheâll naturally be more alert. Or, you may give your baby a bath at nighttime as part of her bedtime routine.
If you plan to give your baby a bath after feeding her, wait a while to ensure her tummy has had a chance to settle.
Should You Bath Baby In A Sink Or Full Bath
There are sink inserts available to bathe a newborn. This can be a good option if youre traveling or short on space in your home. Follow the bathtub steps above for giving your baby a bath in the sink, but take care that the water coming from the sink faucet isnt too hot.
When your baby is able to sit up on their own , you can use the full bathtub. Fill the tub with only a few inches of water and supervise them at all times, making sure their head and neck stay well above water.
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How Often Does A Newborn Need A Bath
Growing up, you may have heard that babies and children must be bathed daily for optimum cleanliness. However, this isnt the case. Especially with a newborn, bathing daily can actually dry the skin, and irritate it.
Additionally, most newborns do not get very dirty, so its not necessary to fully immerse them in a bath each day or night. You can spot clean any areas of concern in between baths.
For these reasons, most doctors recommend only bathing your newborn baby a few days per week.
AAP recommends bathing your baby no more than three days per week. Of course, even that is not a hard and fast rule.
If you want to bathe your baby more often, thats fine, and if you only bathe your baby one or two days per week , thats fine too!
As your baby gets older and ventures into the toddler years, they are going to get dirtier, because they will be exploring everything and playing outside. Your bathing frequency will likely naturally increase during this time.
Benefits Of Delaying Your Newborns First Bath
- Temperature regulation
During delivery, your baby experiences a sudden contrast in climate as they enter a dry environment from the fluid-filled amniotic sac. This causes their skin to easily dry out, crack, and peel especially when babies are born further along in the gestation period.
- Prevent dry skin
Your baby will be born with a coating of vernix caseosa on their skin. This creamy, waxy build-up consists mostly of water, lipids, and proteins and promotes better temperature regulation and softer skin after birth.
Frequent bathing results in drier skin at any age. So, to help prevent dry skin, we wait up to 24 hours before wiping off the vernix caseosa. However, if the mother has an infection that could be transmitted to the baby, such as HIV or herpes, we clean the newborn right away.
- Breastfeeding benefits
Studies have shown that delaying babys first bath can also lead to more success with breastfeeding, as it increases skin-to-skin contact between the baby and mother. And by staying warmer longer, babies are less tired and irritated when learning to latch.
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How Do I Wash My Baby
- If you want to top and tail your newborn, you can do this by washing them using cotton wool and bowls of warm water.
- You can wash your newborn in a small baby bath.
- If youd prefer to share a bath with your little one, see below for more details.
- It can help to have an extra pair of hands at bath time, so encourage your partner to get involved.
- You shouldnt use any cleansing products to bathe your baby only mild, non-perfumed soap can be used where needed. Plain water is safer for your babys skin during in the first month.
Can You Give Your Baby Bath Toys
Keep in mind that for infants, you donât need any bath toys at all, as splashing around in the water will be enough entertainment. As your baby gets older, you can add some floating baby toys or even waterproof books to keep him occupied.
Eventually, your baby will start to enjoy baths, and at some point, it will become more like playtime than bath time. When sheâs bigger, let your little one splash around and have some fun in the water.
Between your babyâs baths, youâll probably be doing a lot of diapering. Why not get rewarded for all your efforts? Download the Pampers Club app to turn your Pampers purchases into rewards like coupons, gift cards, and more.
How we wrote this articleThe information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below.The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
- See all sources
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Benefits Of Co Bathing With Baby
If you feel that your baby may benefit from a bath, why dont you take your baby into the tub with you? Baby baths are awkward to fill to use or bend over the bath. Lifting them onto a safe surface should be avoided, especially if you have had a caesarean section or simply want to look after your back. Sharing a bath together can be lots of fun and also helps with breastfeeding.
Sharing bath time together has lots of benefits:
- It is relaxing for both you and your baby. You get to soak in the tub while enjoying some skin to skin with your little one.
- It can be a lovely winding down period for both of you, especially after a busy or unsettled day and may even help with bedtimes.
- It is a great way for you and your nursling to touch base and have a peaceful breastfeed. Skin to skin boosts all those milk-making hormones.
- Helps your let-down, which can help your little one breastfeed.
If Your Newborn Hates The Bath
Its actually very common for newborns to dislike bath time, especially at first. You may be surprised to learn this, and even think you are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with your baby if they cry or fuss during bathtime.
One reason some babies resist bathtime is that they dont like the sudden temperature changes that happen. You can mitigate this by gently transitioning your baby into the water. Wrap them in a towel at first and gradually immerse them in the water, keeping the towel on until they are all the way in.
You can also experiment with bath temperatures to see what your baby likes best. And always have a warm towel ready when they come out so that transition isnt too jarring.
Some newborn prefer bathtime if you are holding them completely. As such, many parents decide to bathe with their babies in their arms. This can be a wonderful bonding experience. However, you must consider safety here. Only bathe with your baby when you are fully alert. Make sure you have a towel ready, and possibly another grown-up to hand your baby to when you are done. Dont use soaps and other bath products geared toward adult skin.
Finally, keep bathtime fun for your baby! Newborns cant play with bath toys yet, but that doesnt mean they cant be entertained by them. Funny faces and games of peek-a-boo can be very helpful as well.
You can spot clean your baby in the meantime. And most babies will eventually enjoy bath timeall in good time.
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Why Not Every Day
While it may feel odd to bathe your baby so infrequently, babies simply dont need to bathe as often as adults. They dont 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 babys 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.
How To Keep Infants Clean Between Two Baths
Just because you dont keep bathing your baby every day, it does not mean that you dont need to make sure that your baby is clean. It is important to make sure that certain areas of your babys body remain clean.
As babies tend to dribble and drool a lot, you need to always ensure to wipe down their faces. Make sure that you gently lift the chin and clean under the neck as milk and drool can slide down and cause rashes if not cleaned.
In the same way, you should be sure to clean your babys genital areas frequently. If your little boy is not circumcised, you will need to gently pull back the foreskin and clean around the area. This way you will not have any build-up of urine. If you are unsure how to do this, be sure to ask the nurse at the hospital.
For girls, there are folds around the vagina that need a good cleaning every day as well. Your little one will need to have their bottom cleaned well.
Always ensure to use lotion to moisturize the skin that has been cleaned. This will make sure that the sensitive baby skin does not get dry.
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How To Give Your Newborn A Tub Bath
Once your baby’s umbilical cord has fallen off and after a boy’s circumcision has healed, you can give your baby a tub bath. This can be a pleasurable experience for you and your baby. However, some babies may not like to be bathed, especially the first few times. Talk softly or sing and try some bath toys if your baby protests.
Babys First Bath Time
When that first bath time comes, theres a lot for parents to consider, from what products you need to use to the water temperature and depth. However, for babys first bath, its best to keep things simple and stick to a few tried and tested tips, including:
- Bathe them with someone else around for support and confidence
- Stick to gentle sponge baths initially
- Start with a short bath and a quick clean to let them get used to the experience
Remember, while your babys umbilical cord stump is still attached (this will fall off anytime between around five and 15 days after birth1 its best to avoid getting it wet to avoid infection, so sponge bathing may be the best method for keeping your little one clean in their first couple of weeks.
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Dress Your Baby For The Weather
If it’s cold outside, you’ll need to bundle your baby up in extra layers so that they stay warm. But you also don’t want them to overheat. If it’s summertime, babies need less clothing. The general rule is to dress your baby for the weathernot too hot and not too coldand then add an additional layer.
Use your own clothing as a guide. If you’re comfortable wearing a T-shirt, put your baby in a long-sleeved shirt. If you’re wearing a sweatshirt, your baby may also need a light jacket on top of a warmer, long-sleeved bodysuit. Always have a spare blanket on hand to use as an extra layer if your baby seems cold.
Babies can’t regulate their body temperature as efficiently as adults can. So, keep a careful eye on your baby to make sure they aren’t too hot or cold. Listen to your baby’s cues. If they are uncomfortable, they will cry to let you know. If the temperature is cold, keep your baby bundled up snugly with hands and feet tucked in to stay warm.
If your baby is too hot, they may get flushed and a little sweaty at the hairline. Remove a layer or blanket. As long as the baby isn’t in the sun, it’s OK for them to wear just a diaper if it’s very hot outside, but they should not stay out in the heat for long.