Bathing, Diapering and Wrapping Your Baby

Bath Time

Newborns generally do not become very dirty and so a daily bath is not necessary. The bath is primarily a time of enjoyment for the family and a time for happy interaction with your baby.For cleanliness, we recommend that you wash your baby’s bottom with plain water every time you change the diaper. Use soap as necessary. Wash his face with the same gentle baby soap and warm water that you use for the rest of his bath whenever it’s dirty and shampoo his hair two or three times a week. If these areas are kept clean, a complete bath can be done as frequently or infrequently as you and your baby wish. If your baby loves a bath, many families enjoy a daily ritual. If your baby is not happy bathing initially, skip it for a few days and try again. A full bath once a week is sufficient for cleanliness.

The following suggestions are ideas we find helpful at bath time:

  1. Sponge bathe your baby until the cord falls off and the navel is healed. Your baby will probably cry until he can get down in a tub. This crying is normal and is not a reflection on your care as a parent. Talk gently and soothingly to reassure your baby and finish the bath without unnecessary delays.
  2. Pick a place that is comfortably warm, free from drafts, with easy access to water, and with a comfortable working surface that is well-padded.
  3. Bathe your baby any time that is convenient for you.
  4. Gather all your equipment before you get your baby and begin the bath. You will need:
    • Clean clothes
    • Diapers
    • Towels, washcloth or sponge
    • Soap (liquid baby soap, or any mild, non-deodorant soap without heavy perfumes)
    • Rubbing alcohol, cotton balls or cotton swabs
    • Basin or tub
    • Bulb syringe (NOTE: Every few days, wash your bulb syringe with warm, soapy water and rinse well.)
  5. Check the water temperature with your elbow or wrist. Babies enjoy warm water and it should feel comfortably warm to you.
  6. You may want to wash the baby’s face and scalp before you undress him for the rest of the bath. The baby can be held “football fashion” over the tub or sink.
  7. Wash the face cleaning the eyes from the inside corner to the outside. Wash in and behind the ears with the corner of the washcloth. REMEMBER! No cotton swabs in the ears- EVER. You may inadvertently tamp wax further into the ear canal.; just clean what you can see.
  8. Scrub the scalp with a mild soap and your fingertips. Rinse well and dry. Now you’re ready to undress the baby and finish the bath.
  9. Wash the rest of the body with soap taking care to thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry in all the creases.
  10. If you have a baby girl, take care to clean between her labia (genital lips) from front to back, always using a clean corner of the washcloth each time you come to the front.
  11. Warming your bath towels in the dryer before wrapping the baby after the bath is a nice way to keep him warm and comfortable.
  12. Once you can begin giving tub baths, use an inexpensive plastic tub for bathing the baby alone, or climb into the bathtub and have someone hand the baby to you (they love to be held close in the deep, warm water). After placing the baby in the tub, you may find that covering him with another warm cloth or towel helps to calm him and keep him warm.
  13. Try placing a towel or washcloth in the bottom of the tub to make it softer and less slippery or use a special baby tub sponge.
  14. Keep the bath simple and enjoyable. You will come up with your own creative ideas for making this a happy time with your baby.


Whether to use disposable diapers or cloth diapers is a matter of personal preference. There is no difference in the incidence of diaper rash. If your baby has a diaper rash, it can usually be remedied by increasing the frequency of changes and protecting the skin with a coating of Vaseline of A&D ointment. If the rash resists these measures, is accentuated in the skin folds and is a deep reddish-purple color, this is likely to be a yeast (Candida/ monilia) infection and can be easily treated with Lotrimin-AF ointment which is available over-the-counter; if you do not find it in the baby-care section, it will be found in the foot-care section. If you have any doubts, give our office a call.