How To Bathe a Baby — The Step-by-Step Guide To Bathing Your Baby

Learning how to bathe a baby is just one of the many skills you’ll pick up along your parenting journey. However, while splashing about in the tub can seem like fun, it can be a potentially risky business. Hence, particularly while you’re getting to grips with everything, it could make you feel incredibly nervous. 

However, once you’ve mastered the bath time routine, your confidence will grow. And, you’ll discover that not only does it freshen up your little one — it’s an ideal time for you both to bond. 

So, let me show you — read this handy guide, and you’ll feel a lot more prepared to overcome any bathing challenges you may face. 

What You Will Need to Bathe Your Baby Successfully 

Whether you want to freshen up your little one by giving them a quick sponge bath or plumb for time in the tub, here’s what you need. Make sure you have the following before you get started: 

  • Bowl of warm water (sponge bath method).
  • Baby bath filled with body temperature water.
  • Towel.
  • Cotton balls/wool (or sponge/washcloth).
  • Fresh diaper.
  • Clean clothes.
  • A warm room.
  • Gentle or mild baby soap.
  • Baby oil or lotion (optional).
  • Diaper cream.

How To Bathe a Baby — Sponge Bath Style — Step by Step Instructions 

Sponge bathing can be beneficial. It’s perfect for those babies who still have their cord intact or for boys who have recently been circumcised.

Step One — The ‘Top’ 

1. Start with your baby laying on your lap or a changing mat. Undress them but leave their diaper on as you will wash this area last. Wrap your baby in a towel so they feel warm and comfortable. 

2. Wet a cotton ball and carefully wipe your baby’s eyes — working from inside by the nose to outward. It’s important to use a different cotton ball/pad for each eye. This will help get rid of any stickiness and prevent any cross-contamination if an infection was to occur. 

3. rab another unused cotton ball/pad, dampen it and cleanse your baby’s ears. Make sure you don’t poke anything in the ear canal. Just gently wipe away any dried milk dribble or baby gunk. 

4. Finally, once you’re satisfied that your little one has fresh eyes and ears, you can use another cotton ball to gently wipe the rest of your munchkin’s face. Ensuring their mouth, chin, neck, head, and hands are clean, plus any chubby folds — a buildup of sweat and milk is prone to collect in these areas. 

5. Don’t forget to dab dry with a towel.

Step Two — The ‘Tail’

Now it is time to head to the diaper area! 

1. Be careful and gently unwrap your baby from the towel and unfasten their diaper. Major business goes on in this area hence, it will need proper attention to ensure a nice clean baby.
If when you remove their diaper, they have soiled it — follow your diaper cleaning process and clear away all the poop before commencing washing.

2. Working with another cotton ball, gently wash your baby’s genitals. For girls, you should always wipe front to back. If your little boy has been circumcised, you need to avoid the head of the penis until it is healed completely.

3. It’s important to wipe the creases of your baby’s skin. This also includes the thighs, backs of the knees, under the arms, and around the ankles. 

4. You can wrap your baby back in a towel now so that they don’t get cold.

5. Finally comes the hair. Even if your little one doesn’t have much on top — as many newborns don’t, you can still wash the little bit they do have. There is no need to use shampoo at this stage.
Tip your little one’s head back, not too far, just enough so as not to get water in their eyes. Gently use a baby sponge or clean cotton ball to wipe their scalp/hair.

6. Dab dry gently. When you have finished, pop on a clean diaper, using diaper cream if required, then dress.

You may have a little one that enjoys the freedom of being diaperless, or you may be faced with a baby that doesn’t like to be unwrapped or undressed. Either way, talking or singing to your baby throughout can help soothe and keep them calm.

how to bathe a baby step by step

How To Bathe a Baby — Step by Step Instructions

For older babies — post umbilical cord — tub time rules.

Step One Get Ready for Bathing

  1. Let your baby chill out somewhere safe — crib, playmat, a bouncer — while you prepare.
  2. Collect everything you will need within arms reach for bathing your baby — shampoo, towel, sponge or cloth and cotton wool, etc.
  3. Now, fill the bath with a couple of inches of H2O, you don’t need too much. Once done, check the baby bath temperature of the water with your wrist or elbow to make sure there are no hot spots. Once you’re satisfied, it’s time for your little one to take the plunge. 

Step Two — Bath Time 

  1. Always bathe your baby from the head down — to keep the dirtiest bits for last — the bottom area.
  2. Ensure you have a secure hold on your little one — a wet baby can become slippery in your grip.
    To make your baby feel comfortable, you will need to securely hold your baby — place your arm under their head and neck. If you’re right-handed, use your left and vice versa — usually, your nondominant one is best. Keep your dominant hand to guide their body into the tub and later to use it to wash them.
    Once they’re in the tub, you may want to move your arm under their head further until you are holding them under their arm, this allows you to keep a secure grip on them at all times.
  3. Swish the water over your baby and allow them to experience the water. They may kick or splash, which is a sign of enjoyment.
  4. Start by cleaning your baby’s face — as described in the How to Bathe — Sponge Bath Style.
  5. Next, move down to their neck, chest, arms, and hands. Make sure to get in all those creases, especially around the neck, behind the ears, and under the arms.
  6. Then, move on to their legs and feet, paying special attention to the backs of their knees and between their toes — all places where sweat and dirt can build up.
  7. Now you want to wash their genitals and bottom, again ensuring that all those creases and folds are cleaned well to prevent any sore skin. Ensure that girls are wiped from front to back to prevent infection. Once that’s done, take them out and wrap them in a fluffy towel, leaving their head uncovered. 
  8. Holding them over the bath gently wet their hair, then grab the shampoo and slowly massage the soap on the scalp. Be careful — depending on the age of your baby they will have sensitive spots on their head. It’s best to remove them from the bath before washing their hair as you don’t want the skin-drying suds getting onto their delicate skin.

how to bathe a baby

Step Three — Drying Time 

  1. If your baby seems stressed, allowing them some naked time on the mat can help relax them. This allows you to lightly massage them with baby oil or baby lotion.

Please remember, NEVER leave your baby unattended in the bath or while having naked time on a mat.


I hope that you’ve enjoyed my step-by-step guide as well as finding it useful. Hopefully, it should help you feel more comfortable when enjoying bath time with your little one.

Bath time is a great bonding experience for parents, it provides you with some quiet one-on-one time with your little one — which when leading busy lives can be so important. It’s also essential to learn the correct and safe way to bathe a baby to prevent mishaps. Just remember, providing you’re well prepared, bathing your baby doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. 

If you’ve enjoyed my guide on how to bathe a baby then please share this article with other parents that may find it useful.

How To Bath an Infant FAQs

When Should You Bathe Your Newborn?

The best time to bathe a newborn is usually after their umbilical cord has fallen off. Bathing before this could encourage an infection to form around the area. However, you can give them a little sponge bath — ideally, this should be done 24 hours after their birth.

If their cord has fallen off, the best time to bathe them is when they are content, but try to avoid bathing directly after feeding or they could become unwell. Before a nap or in the evening is another good time — a relaxing bath can help them settle sooner.

Can You Bath a Baby After The Umbilical Cord Falls Off?

Yes! Of course, once their umbilical cord has fallen off you can head for a full-blown bath.

How Do I Protect My Baby’s Ears While Bathing?

Water or soap entering your baby’s ear could lead to infections, so try to avoid it if you can. However, if this does happen you mustn’t stick cotton buds in their ear canal, this will only make things worse. Instead, dry the outer ears as best you can with a towel. 

If your baby is older and you wish to start submerging them — whether in the local pool or while bathing — you can ask the doctor or pharmacist for advice on earplugs.

How Often Should I Bathe My Baby in Winter?

Washing your baby doesn’t need to become a chore that has to be completed every day, especially in the winter months. Young babies really only need to be bathed about three times a week, regardless of the season. Once they are a little older and getting themselves into mucky situations, you may need to look at bathing them every day.

How Often Should a Baby Have a Bath?

It’s suggested that you should only bathe your baby two to three times a week. But this is only a recommendation. Hence, if you find you have a little water baby on your hands then there is no reason why it can’t be incorporated into their daily routine. 

When Can You Start Bathing a Baby In A Tub?

Your baby will not be ready to use the big bathtub until they are around three to six months old — once they can hold their head up properly. At this stage, you can introduce some bath toys to their bathtime. When using the bathtub you may wish to purchase a bathtub faucet cover. These handy little tools are an extra stimulant making the water appear as if it is coming out of an animal. Encouraging a happy bath time will promote a stress-free time where you and your baby can bond further.


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