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Tub Bathing Your Baby


What you need to know about tub bathing your baby:

You may tub bathe your baby after his umbilical cord falls off. If your baby was circumcised, wait until the area has healed before you bathe him in a tub. Bathe your baby in a baby bathtub for the first 6 months. You can also use a clean sink or plastic basin lined with a clean towel. Bathe your baby 2 or 3 times each week during the first year. Bathing more often can dry out his delicate skin.

Safety tips:

  • Never leave your baby alone during a tub bath. Your baby can drown in 2 inches of water. If you must leave the room, wrap your baby in a towel and take him with you.
  • Apply non-slip strips or stickers to the bottom of the tub. Put a soft cover over the water faucet to prevent injury.
  • Do not put cotton swabs in your baby's ears. They can cause damage to your baby's ears.

Prepare for a tub bath:

  • Keep the room warm and free of drafts. Close the door and windows, and turn off fans.
  • Gather your supplies. Make sure you have everything you need within easy reach:
    • Mild, unscented baby soap or shampoo
    • A soft, clean washcloth
    • A towel
    • Diaper and wipes
    • Clean clothes
  • If you use a baby bathtub or basin, set it inside an adult bathtub or sink. Do not put the tub on a countertop. The countertop may become slippery and the tub can fall off.
  • Fill the tub with 2 inches of warm (not hot) water. Always test the water temperature before you bathe your baby. Drip some water onto your wrist or inner arm. The water should feel warm, not hot, on your skin. If you have a bath thermometer, the water temperature should be 90°F to 100°F (32.3°C to 37.8°C). Keep your household hot water heater temperature set at less than 120°F (48.9°C) to prevent burns.

Give your baby a tub bath:

  • Slowly put your baby into the water. Keep his face above the water level at all times. Support the back of his head and neck if he cannot hold his head up. Use your free hand to wash your baby.
  • Wash your baby's face and head first. Use a wet washcloth and no soap. Rinse off his eyelids with water. Use a clean part of the washcloth for each eye. Wipe from the inside of the eyes and out toward the ears. Wash behind and around your baby's ears. Wash your baby's hair with baby shampoo 1 or 2 times each week. Rinse well to get rid of all the shampoo. Pat his face and head dry before you continue with the bath.
  • Wash the rest of your baby's body. Start with his chest. Wash under any skin folds, such as folds on his neck or arms. Clean between his fingers and toes. Wash your baby's genitals and bottom last.
  • Rinse all of the soap off your baby. Soap left on your baby's skin can be irritating. Squeeze water out of washcloth and onto his skin, or use a container to pour water on his body.
  • Gently pat him dry and wrap him in a towel to keep him warm. Baby towels with an attached hood are a great way to keep your baby's head warm. Apply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic baby lotion or moisturizing cream to help prevent dry skin. Ask your baby's healthcare provider what type of lotion or cream is best. Dress your baby as soon as he is dry so he does not get cold.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.