Enjoy That New Baby Smell

New parents may be a little worried about bathing their newborn baby, but rest assured -- newborns don’t have a need for regular bathing.

Newborn baby bath

After your baby is born (and if it’s a hospital birth), hospital staff will be eager to rub him off and eventually take him to the nursery for his first bath (although some moms prefer to let their newborn stay unbathed as long as possible -- he’ll probably never smell that good again!). You will likely be instructed on how to bathe him on your own, but fortunately there is little need for regular bathing while he’s still this small.

Sponge baths

Until your little one’s umbilical cord stump falls off (and circumcision, if you had one done, heals), you will need to keep the area dry, so a simple sponge bath will do. My fourth baby, in fact, got a sponge bath for a long time, as she screamed when I tried to place her in her infant tub the first time -- the guilt was overwhelming. The main areas you will need to clean on a daily basis are his bottom (which you will do at every diaper change anyway) and possibly the face and hands if your baby dribbles his milk. A wet rag with a few drops of baby soap over the head will do the trick for now -- no need for shampoo!

Tub baths

Once the stump falls off, you will be clear for tub baths. I always used the smaller infant tubs that fit on our kitchen sink -- it enabled me to really be hands-on with my wee babes and I felt more secure handling their tiny, soapy bodies since they were on the same level as me.


Sponge baths and tub baths, until a baby is crawling around on the floor and experimenting with food, aren’t necessary any more than every two to four days -- if even that frequent. A mild, unscented baby soap is best to use, and the same goes for lotion -- it can help keep that delicate newborn skin from drying out. A daily face, neck and hand wash will go a long way towards keeping him fresh and clean in between baths.

More on newborns

My newborn won't nap!
How to get help with your newborn
Newborn keepsakes


recommended for you