How to Bathe Your Baby
Between the bubbles, splashing, coos and giggles—bath time is a perfect moment in your day to engage your baby’s senses and nurture your bond. Follow our simple step-by-step guide to learn the basics or some new tips.
Approximately eight billion baths are given annually worldwide using JOHNSON’S® baby products. Bath time is one of our favourite routines, as a bath not only relaxes your baby, it gives you a break to bond and play after a hectic day while engaging your little one’s sense of smell and touch.
Studies have shown that routine touch can lead to improved physiological, cognitive, emotional and social development, and enjoyable and familiar scents improve your baby’s mood, calmness and alertness.
Water Isn’t Enough for Your Baby’s Bath
Cleansing with water alone removes only about 65% of oil and dirt. It doesn't remove the fat-soluble impurities left behind undernappies and clothes, and if they remain, they can cause the delicate skin barrier* to break down. And water alone can actually dry your baby’s skin. Repeated use of water only, especially when hard or chlorinated, has been shown to cause moisture loss from the skin cells, leaving baby skin irritated or red.
A gentle baby-specific cleanser like JOHNSON’S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® wash is recommended to help cleanse effectively.
Bathing Your Newborn
Most midwives and other healthcare professionals recommend bathing newborns two or three times per week, increasing the frequency as your baby gets older. Start with sponge baths until your baby’s umbilical cord stump dries and falls off, and the remaining wound heals.
How to Bathe Your Baby
Use a small plastic baby bath placed in the full size bath to make it easier to hold your baby.
Start with only a few inches of warm water. Your baby’s bath water should be between 32 and 37ºC. After filling the tub, be sure to swirl the water with your hands so there are no hot spots.
Before you put your baby in the bath water, test the water’s temperature on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot.
NOTE: Be sure that your home’s hot water heater is set no higher than 48ºC to help protect against accidental scalding.
Using one arm to gently support your baby's back, head and neck, gently place her in the baby bath. Continue to support her using one arm while bathing her with the other.
Gently cleanse around your baby's eyes with a cotton pad dampened with clean, warm water. Use a new cotton pad 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!
For younger babies, wet a baby washcloth with warm water and use a gentle cleanser formulated for babies, like JOHNSON'S® TOP-TO-TOE® baby wash. If your baby has more hair, you might try a gentle shampoo, like JOHNSON'S® baby shampoo. Don’t be afraid to gently wash the soft spots (called fontanels) on your baby's head.
Wash the nappy area last. For a baby girl, cleanse the genital area washing from front to back. For boys, gently wash the penis and genital area, from front to back, and dry thoroughly. For an uncircumcised boy, avoid pulling back the foreskin.
Let your baby take a few moments in the bath to enjoy the warm water. Pour cupfuls of water over her body to keep her warm. Be mindful of running water directly from the tap as water temperature can sometimes change suddenly.
Wrap both hands around your baby's chest under her arms, support her head, and lift her out of the bath and quickly wrap her in a towel.
Dry your baby well in all the creases, as excessive moisture could lead to skin irritation. Pat her skin dry to avoid skin damage.
Before dressing your baby, apply a gentle baby moisturiser, such as JOHNSON'S® baby lotion which is clinically proven to be gentle and mild.
Baby Bathing Tips
- Clean only what you can see; avoid putting anything deep into your baby's ear canal or nose
- Every baby is different, but some don’t like to be bathed too soon after feeding. Many moms find it’s best to bathe baby before she eats
- And remember, NEVER leave a baby alone in the bath. Not even for a second
A bath is a perfect way to create separation between 'busy time' and 'sleep time', while giving you the chance to bond with your baby. Even tough days can feel a little easier when you end the night by wrapping your beautiful clean baby, snug and cozy, in her blanket, just in time for a lullaby.
We make it our responsibility to know as much as possible about your baby's precious eyes.
Introduced in 1953, JOHNSON'S® baby shampoo was the first specially formulated product to be as mild to a baby's eyes as pure water. Our unique JOHNSON'S® baby shampoo and other NO MORE TEARS® formula products were developed just for babies’ unique needs.
*The skin barrier is the upper layer of the skin that acts as a vital barrier to outside irritants, bacteria and allergens, protecting the body from disease. Babies' skin barrier is uniquely different from adults’ and is still developing, so it needs special care.
What’s True? What’s Myth? Baby Bath Time with Elle Walker
Learn more about when and how you should bathe your baby.