Skip to main content

Keeping your new baby's skin clean is essential to good health, and sponge bath time is also a wonderful time to engage your baby’s senses, helping her development, right from the start.

Most paediatricians or midwives 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.

During a sponge bath, your gentle touch while you support and wash your baby can lead to her improved physiological, cognitive, emotional and social development, while the smell of JOHNSON’S® delicate washes (like JOHNSON’S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® wash can improve her mood, calmness and alertness.

Make sure you have everything you need ready before giving your baby a sponge bath.
baby sponge bath 1

Baby bath or tub, filled with water at a comfortable temperature.

baby sponge bath 2

A large, soft, hooded towel

baby sponge bath 3

A soft wash cloth

baby sponge bath 4

Cotton Squares or rounds

baby sponge bath 5

A mild cleanser specially formulated for babies, such as JOHNSON’S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® baby wash

After bath...
baby sponge bath 1

Moisturising oil such as JOHNSON'S® baby oil

baby sponge bath 2

Clean clothing

baby sponge bath 3


baby sponge bath 4

Receiving blanket

baby sponge bath 5

Soft brush or comb

baby sponge bath 6

Protective ointment for the diaper area

How to Give Your Baby a Sponge Bath

Getting Ready

Sponge Bath: Step 1Take a few minutes to talk to your baby about her day as you prepare for the transition to bath time. Undress her, except for her nappy, and wrap her in a towel.

Wash Her Eyes

Sponge Bath: Step 2Holding your baby's head, gently cleanse around each eye with a cotton ball dampened with warm water. Cotton balls are good to use because they don't shed pieces of lint.
Use a new cotton ball for each eye and always wipe from the inside corner of the eye, outward. If there is no crust (dried mucus), there is no need to wash the eye area. Do not wash the eye itself.

Wash Her Face

Sponge Bath: Step 3Using a soft washcloth, wipe around your baby's mouth, nose and whole face, working from the middle outward, using only plain water. Pay special attention to behind the ears, under the chin and creases in the neck. Remember: Never put anything into the ear canal or nose. Gently pat dry.

Wash Her Hair

Sponge Bath: Step 4Keeping your baby wrapped in a towel, put your arm under her back and your hand behind her head. With your free hand wet your baby's hair with the washcloth. Apply a small amount of gentle baby wash, such as JOHNSON'S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® baby wash, which is specially formulated to not sting her eyes, and gently massage over her whole head.
Rinse your baby's hair with water until all the cleanser is removed. Lay your baby down and dry her head gently, and lift the hood of the towel over her head to keep her warm.

Wash Her Body

Sponge Bath: Step 5Next, wash your baby's body using a gentle, trusted, soap-free baby cleanser. JOHNSON'S® baby TOP-TO-TOE® baby wash is mild enough for your newborn's hair and skin.

Keeping her head covered with the corner of the towel, unwrap your baby and remove her nappy. Wet and lather your hand or washcloth and begin to wash the rest of your baby's body. Wash the neck to her waist, including her arms and hands, and thoroughly rinse and pat dry. Cover her upper body with a towel to keep her warm and move down to her legs, feet and toes.

Remember to rinse and dry well in all the creases, because excessive moisture can lead to skin irritation. Wash the nappy area last using clean warm water: for a baby girl, just wipe the area gently from front to back. For a baby boy, also wipe from front to back. For uncircumcised boys, gently wash the penis and genital area, avoiding pulling back the foreskin.

Umbilical Cord Care

Sponge Bath: Step 6Before cleaning your baby's umbilical cord, you can put her shirt and nappy on to keep her warm. Remember to avoid covering the cord with the nappy, because the cord area should be kept dry and clean at all times.
Clean around and in the base of the cord with a cotton ball. Do not be afraid to clean the cord; the quicker the base dries, the sooner the cord will fall off.


Sponge Bath: Step 7Moisturising your baby is an essential part of her skin care regime. Use gentle products such as JOHNSON’S® baby oil to protect your baby’s skin and keep it healthy.


Sponge Bath: Step 8Make sure your baby is fully dry before dressing. Then dress your baby and wrap her in a receiving blanket to keep her warm. Hold your baby close and enjoy your time together.

Baby Science!

Your baby's head has a soft spot (called fontanels) where the skull has not yet fully closed. Having this soft spot allowed her skull to mould during her passage through the birth canal. It is safe to gently touch and wash this area.

Logo Baby Center

Safe & Snuggly

Wrapping your newborn in a warm blanket after her bath can help her feel safe and secure.

Moms around the world trust JOHNSON’S® to care for their babies

We are committed to working with moms, healthcare experts and scientists to ensure our products continue achieving the highest standards in safety, quality and care.

Back to Top