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Home > Medical Services > Women's and Children's Health > Maternity > Nursery Discharge Instructions

Bathing Your Baby

Bathing newborns sometimes makes parents nervous. Until the umbilical cord falls off, you should only give your newborn sponge baths. Be sure to use gentle soaps. Since newborns do not get very dirty, you only need to bathe them two or three times a week.

  • Gather all supplies before starting the bath.
  • Bath water should feel warm on your elbow or wrist. Keep your water heater temperature below 120 degrees F to avoid scalding.
  • If bathing in the sink, use a towel or foam pad in the bottom of the sink or tub to prevent slipping.
  • Shampoo the head first, rinsing with clear water.
  • Wash the body from the face down, using only water on the face.
  • Use mild soaps such as unscented Dove, Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe, Basis or Tone.
  • Dry your baby thoroughly, especially in the creases of the arms, legs and neck.
  • Use a cream without perfume for dry skin. We prefer Eucerin or Aquaphor. Do not put lotion on the baby's face. If you apply lotion to his/her hands, cover the hands with baby mitts to avoid ingestion.
  • Never use baby powder. It is not necessary, and can be harmful to a baby's lungs.
  • Do not clean the ears or nose with cotton swabs.

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Last Updated: 12/27/2013