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Bathing and Skin Care for Newborn Babies


newborn baby getting a bath



Babies don't need a bath every day, but they do need to stay clean and dry.  

Wash your baby's face, neck, hands and diaper area, in that order and with attention to skin folds, daily. 

For the first bath, it helps to have someone experienced with. Often, the nurses in the hospital will show you how to bathe your baby for the first time.

Once you're home try to make bath time relaxed and playful. Smile, make eye contact, sing, and talk with your baby. 

  • To prevent burns, keep the temperature of your hot water tank below 49°C.
  • Keep the room warm, about 22 to 27°C (72 to 80°F).
  • Remove jewelry that could scratch your baby.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Bathe baby in the sink, a basin, a baby bathtub, or in a bathtub with an adult.
  • Lay out a towel next to the sink, basin, or tub to lay your baby on after the bath. 
  • Always keep at least one hand on your baby. Never leave baby unattended, not even for a second!
  • Bath water should be lukewarm. Check the temperature on your wrist or elbow.
  • Have everything within easy reach before you start.
  • Apply any oils you may want to use after the bath to avoid dropping a slippery baby. 

When washing, think cleanest to dirtiest. Wash the eyes and face first and work your way down to the diaper area, leaving it last.

Remember! Never leave your baby alone in the bath.

Eyes and Face

  • Wash baby’s face using warm water only. Soap is not needed on this area. 
  • Wipe eyes from the inner corner to the outer corner.
  • Do not use cotton tipped applicators in your baby’s ears, nose, or eyes as they can harm the delicate tissues.
  • Use a soft washcloth, and only clean the outer part of the ear. Don’t dig into the ear canal.
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft clean cloth every day. 

Avoid Bath Seats or Rings - Due to safety concerns, Health Canada recommends that parents do not use bath seats or rings. It’s very easy for infants to tip over or slip underwater and drown. This can happen in less than a minute.

Scalp and Hair

  • You can use a mild soap or baby shampoo. Lather up and rinse well with clear water.
  • Your baby’s scalp is normally mildly scaly. If the scalp is crusty you can rub in a small amount of non-perfumed oil and then wash it off. Oil left on the scalp can cause a buildup of oil and skin known as cradle cap. 


After the bath, place your baby on a towel and pat dry, being sure to remember the skin folds. Your baby will cool down quickly when wet. Have clothes ready to dress your baby.

Bathe with your Baby

Another way to bathe your baby is to have one adult sit in a bathtub while the other passes the baby in for a bath. When the bath is finished, the baby can be passed to the other adult. Your baby may feel more secure and cry less.

Resources and Links:
HealthLink BC: Child Safety: Bathing

Last Updated: August 10, 2013