How to Give Your Baby a Tub Bath

Based on content from the baby care experts at JOHNSON'S® Baby and Johnson & Johnson's Getting Acquainted: What to Expect with Your New Baby.

Your baby's bathtime should be an uninterrupted and enjoyable part of your day. Like massage, it is also an excellent way to relax your baby, to help prepare her for bedtime. You don't really need to bathe your baby everyday - your doctor may recommend bathing your newborn just two or three times a week.

However, you should wash her face and hands at least twice a day with a gentle baby cleanser like soap-free, hypoallergenic JOHNSON'S® Baby HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash, and keep her diaper area clean and protected with an ointment after each diaper change. Your baby's bathtime should be uninterrupted and enjoyable, so if you've had a busy, hectic day, sit down for a few minutes and relax first. It's always best to bathe your baby before a feeding, as long as she's not too hungry. Too soon after a feeding may make her uncomfortable and she may spit up.

Some pediatricians recommend waiting until the circumcision wound or umbilical cord have healed before giving a tub bath. Be sure to follow your pediatrician's advice for your baby.

And NEVER leave your baby alone in the bath!

How to Give Your Baby a Tub Bath

You may want to bathe your baby in either the kitchen sink (with the faucet turned away and soft towels or a foam insert on the bottom) or in a small plastic baby tub placed in the regular tub to make it easier to hold your baby. Now, let the splashing fun begin!

  1. Start with only a few inches of warm (not hot) water - the ideal water temperature is 90°F to 100°F. Swirl water with your hand to make sure there are no hot spots, and always double check the water temperature using the inside of your wrist before you place your baby in the water.
  2. Using one arm to gently support your baby's back, head and neck, gently place her in the baby tub. Continue to support her with one arm while bathing her with the other.
  3. Start by gently washing your baby's eyes with a cotton round dampened with clean, warm water. JOHNSON'S® Pure Cotton Rounds are made from only 100 percent pure, non-chlorine bleached cotton, so they are gentle enough for your baby. Use a new cotton round for each eye and always wipe from the inside corner of the eye outward. Then, using a soft washcloth, wipe around your baby's mouth, nose and whole face, working from the middle outward. Wipe the creases in her neck and don't forget behind her ears!
  4. You can use cotton swabs to clean hard-to-reach places, but always use safety swabs, such as JOHNSON'S® Baby Safety Swabs. They are specifically designed to prevent you from pushing the cotton tip too deeply into your baby's ear canal or nose. Clean only what you can see - never put anything deep into your baby's ear canal or nose.
  5. For younger babies, wet a baby washcloth with warm water and use a gentle cleanser formulated for babies, like JOHNSON'S® Baby HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash. This ultra-gentle cleanser can be used to wash all of your baby, including her hair. If your baby has more hair, you may need to use a gentle shampoo, JOHNSON'S® Baby Shampoo. To wash your baby's hair, wet the washcloth and apply a small amount of baby shampoo. Massage over your baby's entire head. Do not be afraid to gently wash the soft spots (called fontanels) on your baby's head. Rinse the cloth well with warm water. Add more water to the washcloth and use it to remove the shampoo from your baby's head.
  6. Wash the diaper area last. For a baby girl, cleanse the genital area washing from front to back. For an uncircumcised boy, gently wash the penis and genital area, also washing from front to back, and dry thoroughly. Avoid pulling back the foreskin.
  7. Now let your baby take a few moments in the tub to enjoy the warm water. Generally, newborns love this moment. Pour cupfuls of water over your baby's body to keep her warm. Don't run water directly from the faucet as water temperature can change suddenly.
  8. Be careful lifting your baby out of the tub. Wrap both hands around your baby's chest under her arms, and taking care to support your baby's head, lift her out of the tub and quickly wrap her in a towel. Take a moment to cuddle with her. This is another nice moment for your baby: she'll feel warm, protected and cozy wrapped in the towel.

After the Bath

Dry your baby well in all the creases, as excessive moisture may lead to skin irritation. Before dressing her, apply a gentle baby moisturizer for healthy and comfortable feeling skin. Hypoallergenic, allergy and dermatologist-tested, JOHNSON'S® Baby Lotion is clinically proven to be gentle and mild and will leave your baby’s skin moisturized for a full 24 hours. Or you may also use JOHNSON'S® Baby Oil. Allergy and dermatologist-tested, it moisturizes your baby's delicate skin and helps protect it from dryness. And its pure mineral oil formula locks in moisture when used on your baby's fresh-from-the-bath damp skin. Take a moment to massage the lotion or oil into your baby's limbs back and tummy, to help her relax. It's also important to keep your hands baby soft and smooth by remembering to moisturize them after washing your baby.

Apply a thin film of diaper ointment onto your baby's bottom to protect her skin. An ointment like DESITIN® Rapid Relief Cream helps prevent and treat diaper rash by sealing out wetness. If you see any signs of diaper rash (such as redness), apply DESITIN® Maximum Strength Original Paste, with 40% zinc oxide, to relieve the rash.

Wrap your baby in a receiving blanket to keep her warm. Fold it up over her feet and across her middle. Now you can brush her hair with a soft brush. If your baby has flakes on her scalp, she may have cradle cap.

A bath is a perfect way to create a separation between "busy time" and "bedtime", while giving you the chance to bond with your baby. And now your beautiful clean baby is snug and cozy, wrapped in her blanket. Just in time for a lullaby. Enjoy!