Last updated September 9th, 2020
Your precious newborn is home from the hospital, and you’re so excited about the new little joy in your life to always be at home. I’m sure you have everything set up, and are now wondering how to care for your baby. One question you might have had is how often you should bathe your newborn.
The quick answer is that you can have a bath time routine every 2-3 days for your newborn. This means properly bathing them with newborn safe body wash and cleaning them well in some soapy water. On a daily basis when you’re not doing a full bath time routine, you can take a warm soft cloth and clean your baby with just water.
Your newborn doesn’t sweat and is barely moving to get dirty enough to require a daily bath. He or she also has amazingly soft and quite sensitive skin, so it’s not ideal to irritate it with baby shampoo. So stick to a 2-3 day routine, and adjust how often you do bathtime depending on your little one.
You should still take some warm water and do a light sponge bath or soft washcloth bath, purely with water, so you can keep your little one fresh and clean.
My newborn never had any baby acne issues, but we did have some trouble with milk that would spill out from her mouth during feedings, and drip down to her neck where it would stay. During the 1st and 2nd weeks at home, we didn’t know that milk sitting around in crevices like her neck could cause any problems.
She started getting red and would have a rash, we started to panic and felt so bad that we weren’t properly caring for her. After taking her to the pediatrician, we found out it was because a little bit of milk would drip from her mouth down to her neck area and stay there causing the rash to come.
After some care, we made sure to properly clean her and take special attention to clean around her neck creases.
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How long do you have to wait before bathing a newborn?
If you’re here, you might already have a newborn at home for a week or so, and want to know the daily bath routine to keep your little one clean and comfortable.
If you have a new bundle of joy at home, first of all, congratulations! The first time our kiddo had her bath was when she was 2 days old, at the hospital. We had 2 amazing nurses come by and give her a warm bath. I couldn’t see what product they used, but they definitely had some sort of baby soap.
I noticed they took a soft bristle brush to clean her scalp area, probably a routine thing to prevent cradle cap.
There’s actually a reason why they chose to ideally wait 48 hours before coming to give our newborn her first bath ever. One of the most amazing reasons is that your baby is born with a white substance called Vernix. This protein substance is meant to help prevent common bacterial infections, acting like an anti-germ barrier. It’s so amazing how they come into this new world with protection.
Another reason is to stabilize their blood sugar. If you give your newborn a bath too soon after birth, it can cause them to lower their blood sugar. They’re fighting to adjust to the new world, and only knew mommy’s womb before that. Now that they’re not connected to mom, there’s no constant flow of blood sugar, and the release of stress hormones from crying can cause your baby’s blood sugar to drop.
Your baby’s crying will cause a chain reaction. After crying, he or she might get too tired to breastfeed, and that will cause even more lowering of blood sugar. Definitely wait 48 hours until birth to give your little newborn their first bath. If you’re curious, you can find all 8 reasons here.
Can I bathe my newborn once a week?
Yes, that’s totally okay to bathe your newborn baby with some baby soap once a week. Your little one is mostly sleeping and feeding on a daily basis, they’ll only get a bit dirty from breastfeeding or formula milk consumption and being held by others.
Wash your hands often and stay as clean as you can while holding your newborn, and tell visitors the same.
Your newborn has natural skin moisturizers that help protect him or her, so you don’t want to bathe them with baby soap or any other product more than 2-3 times a week. If your baby stays fairly clean, once a week is perfectly fine.
As you bath your newborn once a week, you’ll still want to put them in their baby bathtub daily to clean them with some warm water and a baby washcloth. No soap is needed on these water-only bath days. On a daily basis, you want to make sure all crevices and their diaper area are clean.
This nightly bath can be a simple 5-10 minute bedtime routine to take them for a quick gentle bath, and ease them into a peaceful sleep.
Some quick tips around bath time for your newborn
- Always wash newly bought clothes for your newborn before they wear it, no exception here.
- Ideally, you want to avoid using baby products (like baby shampoo, lotion, etc.) as much as you can during the first few months. These products usually contain chemicals that can trigger unwanted reactions on your baby’s delicate skin.
- Choosing to bathe your baby during the morning or night is up to you, but most parents choose nighttime baths as it helps calm the baby for a good night’s sleep.
- As a newborn, your little one doesn’t need any fancy place to bathe. A flat comfortable surface to lay on is fine. During the first few bathtimes, we laid our newborn on a soft towel in the kitchen counter, and gently scrub cleaned her.
- If you want a full list of additional tips, the Mayo Clinic site has more.
Get advice from your pediatrician
During newborn months, we had regular trips to our baby’s pediatrician to make sure everything was going well. We were always ready with a list of questions to make sure we were doing the best for our little one.
All newborns are different, so go over questions with your pediatrician while they examine your baby. You can share your bath time routine, what products you might be using, and any other details.
There is so much great advice online, but as all kiddos are unique, it’s best to have a professional look at them while you share comments & questions to do the best for your little one.