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Babies: Bathing my baby

Safety Tips

  • For your baby's first bath at home, be sure to ask for help if you are not feeling confident. Call your child's doctor's office, and ask for assistance, if you are feeling at all unsure.

  • Never leave your baby unattended in the bath or on a table. Children can drown in as little as 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) of water.

  • Obtain instructions from your child's doctor for care of your child's umbilical cord and circumcision. Take the time when talking with your child's doctor or nurse to make sure you understand what is needed. Bath time or diaper change time is a good opportunity for regular cleaning of these areas.

  • If you are bathing your baby on a surface, make sure it is a comfortable height for you. Place a pad, blanket and towel next to the bath for a comfortable spot for your baby.

  • ALWAYS test the temperature of the water before placing your baby in the bath. You can test bath water by putting an elbow in the water to make sure the water is warm, not hot.

  • Always keep supplies, such as soap, within reach.

  • When reaching for anything, always keep one hand on your baby.


  • A bathtub may not be the right choice for your newborn. Wiping your baby with warm water using wash cloths on a soft towel is often enough in the first few days.

  • Before starting your baby's bath, organize all the supplies you need including:
    • 2 large soft towels;
    • diapers;
    • any creams or oils that you use;
    • clean clothes;
    • tub;
    • washcloths;
    • baby soap and shampoo; and
    • cotton balls.

  • You may find bath time more pleasurable if you remember that:
    • for many babies, bath time is fun - babies love to stretch and splash in warm water;
    • babies love skin-to-skin touch - massaging your baby during bath time is just one more chance for you and your baby to feel secure; and
    • babies feel relaxed after a bath - sometimes a bath is just what a fussy baby may need - everyone will feel relaxed.

  • Newborn babies require head support throughout their bath.

  • The best way to bath a baby is to start at the top and work down:
    • wash your baby's face first, gently with a fresh washcloth;
    • your baby's eyes should be wiped gently from nose to cheek with a soft washcloth, using a different corner for each wipe;
    • wash your baby's scalp using a mild baby shampoo - your baby's head will need to be raised and supported to wash off the shampoo;
    • wash your baby's abdomen, arms and legs next; and
    • wash the genital areas last.

  • Transfer your baby out of the tub to the towel on a pad, next to where you are giving your baby her bath.

  • Wrap your baby and gently pat him dry. Be sure to dry all of the folds and creases in his skin.

  • Once she is dry, diaper your baby first, being careful that the top of the diaper does not irritate the cord. Avoid the use of baby powder, talc and cornstarch because they get into the air and, if inhaled, could damage your baby's lungs.

  • Put your baby in a cozy sleeper.

  • After your baby's bath is the perfect time to cut his nails - preferably with blunt-ended scissors when he is asleep.

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