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Bathing Your Baby

by Martha Adams

How to Shower and Bathe Properly: Steps and What Not to Do

Share on Pinterest You’ve probably been showering since you were a pre-teen. But when was the last time you wondered if you were actually doing it right? Jumping in a hot shower and washing dirt, oil, and sweat off your body seems like it would be hard to mess up. But there are actually techniques that can make your showers more efficient. Good hygiene is an essential part of protecting your health, so establishing a solid, consistent showering or bathing routine is pretty important. This article will cover the basics of how to make the most of the time you spend scrubbing up.

How to take a shower Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t actually have to shower every day. Your skin might look better if you cut back to a few showers per week, especially during the winter months when the air is dry and you aren’t sweating as much. For others, showering every day is simply a matter of feeling clean and more comfortable. No matter which of these camps you fall into, it’s important to make sure you clean your entire body in the shower. Here’s how: Run the water to an ideal temperature. This doesn’t mean that your shower needs to be steaming hot. In fact, dermatologists recommend showering in water that’s lukewarm or slightly warm. Do a quick rinse to wet your skin before applying any soap. Using a loofah, washcloth, or just your hands, apply bar soap or bodywash to your body. Start at your neck and shoulders, and work your way down the length of your body. Don’t forget to wash your legs and get between your toes with soap and water. Rinse off any soapy residue with a little more water to make sure you’re not drying out your skin with scaly soap remnants. If you’re washing your hair, apply shampoo by squirting a quarter-sized amount into your palm. Lather up, focusing on your scalp as well as the nape of your neck. You don’t need to worry about applying shampoo directly to the ends of your hair, as the shampoo will infuse and cleanse your entire hair strands as you rinse it out. Next, apply conditioner to soften your strands. Start with a dollop in your palm, and work it through your hair, spreading evenly over each strand and paying special attention to the ends of your hair. Switch to lukewarm or cool water for the final rinse of your hair and your body. This will help seal conditioner into your hair follicles, encourage blood flow throughout your body, and give you a refreshing jump start as you step out of the shower. Make sure to towel-dry just a bit before applying any moisturizer to your body. You’ll want to use moisturizing cream right out of the shower for best results because it seals hydration into your skin.

How to bathe Taking a bath can be a more relaxing way to get your body clean than showering. But not all baths are equal. Here’s the step-by-step process to follow if you’re taking a bath: Rinse off! This step is optional, but some people like to take a quick shower to get any dirt off their bodies before they soak in the bathtub. Do a quick clean of your tub. Use a paper towel or cloth to wipe down the inside of the tub, removing any soap residue or stray hairs that may have gathered. Fill your tub with lukewarm or slightly warm water. Scalding-hot water will burn your skin, and water that’s even a bit too hot will dry out your skin. You can test the temperature of the water carefully with your hand. Once you’re in the tub, you can lather your body with soap using a washcloth or a loofah. Be careful not to overexfoliate your skin. It’s best to wash your skin at the beginning of the bath since your skin will get softer as you soak and may be more prone to overexfoliation. You don’t have to wash your hair every time you take a bath. But if you decide to do so, wash your hair first with shampoo, being careful to get the nape of your neck and your scalp. Use a cupful of water to rinse out the soap, or use a showerhead attachment. Massage your hair with conditioner, paying special attention to your ends. Use a cupful of water or a showerhead attachment to rinse your hair, ending with a rinse of cool water to seal your hair cuticles. Once you’re finished in the bath, towel-dry your body, and use a moisturizer right away to seal hydration into your skin.

What not to do Whether you choose to shower or bathe, there are some habits to avoid when washing your body: Don’t use water that’s too hot. It might feel relaxing to drench your skin with hot water, but doing it regularly can damage your skin and make it more prone to dryness.

It might feel relaxing to drench your skin with hot water, but doing it regularly can damage your skin and make it more prone to dryness. Don’t overexfoliate your skin. You don’t need to scrub your skin hard or repeatedly to get dirt and oil off its surface. Overexfoliation leaves your skin prone to damage and dryness.

You don’t need to scrub your skin hard or repeatedly to get dirt and oil off its surface. Overexfoliation leaves your skin prone to damage and dryness. Don’t skip the face wash. It’s fine to get your face wet in the shower, but it may be too sensitive for bodywash. The best way to completely cleanse your face is to use a product that’s made for it. You should also wash your face regularly apart from showers and baths.

It’s fine to get your face wet in the shower, but it may be too sensitive for bodywash. The best way to completely cleanse your face is to use a product that’s made for it. You should also wash your face regularly apart from showers and baths. Don’t forget to replace your loofah. Any loofah, washcloth, or scrubbing sponge should be kept clean and dry when not in use in your shower or bathtub. Bacteria can grow in these bathtime accessories if they’re not dried and stored correctly.

How long should a shower take? The average American showers for 8 minutes, but most people don’t need to be in the shower for that long. Once you get used to the steps above, you may notice that you can cut back on the time you spend in the shower. Showering between 5 to 10 minutes is a suitable amount of time to spend soaping up and rinsing off.

Should you shower twice a day? Some people swear by showering twice a day: once in the morning, then later in the afternoon or right before bed. The truth is, you don’t need to shower twice a day to practice good hygiene. Showering too often can even dry out your skin, making it vulnerable to other skin conditions. If you work out multiple times a day, spend hours outside, or work in the medical profession or as a first responder, showering twice a day might be an important part of keeping your body clean. But for everyone else, showering or bathing twice a day probably isn’t necessary.

Baby Bathing Basics: 6 Important Bathtub Safety Tips

Bath time can be a fun way for babies and parents to spend time together, but it can also quickly turn into a parent’s worst nightmare if safety precautions are not taken. It can be easy for your baby to drown or have their skin scalded by hot water if you aren’t careful with the bath.

However, bath time doesn’t have to be scary. By following a few simple steps, you can keep bath time safe and fun for the both of you.

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1. NEVER leave baby unsupervised

Your baby can drown in just an inch of water – and it only takes a second of turning your back before the worst can happen. As such, you should never leave your baby unsupervised in the bath regardless of how little water there may be or how quickly you plan to return.

Plan your baby’s bath accordingly. Keep everything you will need within reach, including soaps, toys, and towels. Don’t go searching for something you may have forgotten. Ask someone else to bring any items to you or just take your baby with you if you ever need to leave the room.

If the phone rings when you are expecting an important call, plan on wrapping your baby up in a towel to take them with you rather than leaving them to answer. Better yet, just let it go to voicemail and get back to them later.

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2. DON’T put baby in the tub while water is running

Before you put your baby in the bath, you should always have the water already in the tub at the correct depth and temperature. Putting your baby into the bath while the water is still running can be very dangerous.

Firstly, water temperature tends to fluctuate in a running tap. You can have drops that are too cold or spikes that are so hot they can easily burn your baby’s skin. There is also a risk of overfilling the tub if you leave the water running while your baby is inside.

Another thing many parents don’t think about is the sensitivity of their baby’s ears. The sound of rushing water from the tap can be too loud and intense for a small baby, making the bath a frightening place rather than somewhere relaxing and fun.

3. ALWAYS regulate water temperature

Speaking of temperature, you need to keep a close eye on your hot water heater and the temperature of your baby’s bath water as their skin is more sensitive and susceptible to burns at a lower temperature than an adult’s.

It is highly advised that you lower the maximum heat on your water heater so there is never a mistake of your baby’s bath water being too hot. Try to keep it around 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) or lower.

Before you place your baby in the bath water, be sure to test the temperature with your wrist or the inside of your elbow. These areas are more sensitive and give you a better idea of what the water will feel like against your baby’s skin.

You can also purchase a baby-friendly bath thermometer so there is never a question of what temperature the water is and if it’s suitable for your baby.

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4. ONLY use baby-safe shampoos and soaps

Babies’ skin sensitivity is also affected by the type of soaps that come into contact with it. Adult soaps and shampoos are often too harsh on a baby’s skin and can cause drying, allergies, or rashes.

Start by giving your newborn a sponge bath or bathing them with only water. From there, you can look for a soap and/or shampoo that is formulated especially for babies. These can usually be found in the baby section of the supermarket.

You should also avoid bubble baths, especially for little girls (the soap and bubbles can irritate the vagina), until your child is older. The soap used in bubble bath solutions can irritate the urethra in both boys and girls and potentially cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).

5. INVEST in child-proofing your tub

Needless to say, the family tub isn’t created with babies in mind. It’s big, slippery, and that faucet is sharp enough to even take a gouge out of an adult’s skin. What you need to do is invest in a few products that will make your tub a bit more child-proof.

A non-slip bath mat can create a better surface grip on the floor of the tub.

A baby bath or bath separator can be purchased to create a smaller bath space for your little one to play and bathe.

A baby-friendly spout cover can soften the sharp metal edges and make it more fun and engaging for your child.

A bath thermometer (as previously mentioned) can help you monitor the bath water temperature and keep your baby safe.

If your shower/bath has sliding glass doors, make sure they are made with safety glass that will not shatter. Also, be sure to keep shower curtains out of your child’s reach while they are bathing.

6. PRACTICE safe bath time habits

A safe bath should not only be a closely monitored and protective one, but it should also be a time to instill good habits in your child as they will eventually begin to spend time alone in the tub in the future.

Teach your child to sit in the tub at all times, even if you have a non-slip mat installed.

Keep all electrical appliances and hair tools far away from the tub and out of reach.

Allow play time at the beginning of the bath so your child isn’t sitting in soapy water that can irritate the skin.

Only bathe your little one a couple of times per week as frequent baths can dry out the skin.

Fill the tub with water no higher than your child’s waist when sitting (about 2 to 4 inches).

Keep the room relatively warm (about 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius) to prevent your child from getting too cold while sitting in the bath.

Have clothes and diaper already selected and laid out so you can quickly dress your child after their bath to prevent them from becoming too cold.

By following these simple bath practices with your little one, you can make bath time both safe and fun for both of you. It can become a nice bonding and play time for parent and baby without worrying about any injury befalling your child.

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Bathing Your Baby

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By: Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP

Bathing your baby is an experience many parents treasure. It's a great time to bond, distraction-free, as your tiny new family member enjoys the sensation of warm water on their skin. Yet this common parenting ritual often comes with questions, and sometimes anxiety, about when and how to do it well.

Here are some frequently asked questions from parents about topics related to baby bath timing, frequency, safety, and more.

When should newborns get their first bath?

The timing of your baby's very first bath has changed over the last few years. While most institutions used to bathe babies within an hour or two of birth, many are changing their policies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends delaying baby's first bath until 24 hours after birth—or waiting at least 6 hours if a full day isn't possible for cultural reasons.

Why wait?

Here are some reasons why it is now recommended to delay baby's first bath: Body temperature and blood sugar : Babies who get baths right away may be more likely to become cold and develop hypothermia. The minor stress of an early bath can also make some babies more likely to have a drop in blood sugar ( hypoglycemia ).

hypothermia. hypoglycemia Bonding and breastfeeding: Taking the baby away for a bath too soon can interrupt skin-to-skin care, mother-child bonding, and early breastfeeding success. One study showed a 166% increase in hospital breastfeeding success after implementing a 12-hour delay in baby's first bath compared to those bathed within the first couple hours.

study Dry skin : Vernix, a waxy white substance that coats a baby's skin before birth, acts as a natural moisturizer and may have anti-bacterial properties. Learn more about vernix here. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it's best to leave vernix on a newborns' skin for a while to help prevent their delicate skin from drying out. This is especially important for preemies, as their skin is highly prone to injury.

Note: Babies of mothers with HIV or the Hepatitis viruses will still be bathed after the initial breastfeed in order to decrease risk to hospital staff and family members.

How often do babies need a bath once they are home?

Newborns don't need a bath every day. They rarely sweat or get dirty enough to need a full bath that often.

Three baths per week during baby's first year may be enough. Bathing more frequently can dry out your baby's skin.

Can my baby have a bath before the umbilical cord falls off?

Only give your newborn sponge baths until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off, which usually happens by about one or two weeks of age. If it remains beyond that time, there may be other issues at play. See the baby's doctor if the cord has not dried up and fallen off by the time the baby is two months old. Learn more here.

How to give a sponge bath

A sponge bath is like a regular bath, except you don't put your baby in the water.

Baby sponge bath safety tips: Get supplies ready before you begin. Have a basin of water, a damp washcloth rinsed in soap-free water, a dry towel, and anything else you might need within reach before you begin.

Lay baby on a flat surface that is comfortable for both of you —a changing table, bed, floor, or counter next to the sink will do. Pad hard surfaces with a blanket or fluffy towel. If your baby is on a surface above the floor, always use a safety strap or keep one hand on her to prevent falls.

Start washing the face first. Use the dampened cloth to wash her face, being careful not to get water into her eyes or mouth. Then, dip it in the basin of water before washing the rest of her body and, finally, the diaper area.

Keep baby warm. During the sponge bath, wrap your baby in a dry towel and uncover only the parts of her body you are actively washing. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and, especially with a girl, in the genital area.

When is my baby ready for a regular bath?

Once the umbilical area is healed, you can try placing your baby directly in the water. His first baths should be as gentle and brief as possible. He may protest a little. (If this happens go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again). Babies usually make it clear when they're ready.

Baby bathtub safety tips: Use an infant tub or sink . The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a hard plastic baby bathtub that has a sloped, textured surface or sling that keeps your baby from sliding. Only use an infant bath tub manufactured on or after October 2, 2017 so it meets current safety standards. Some parents find it easiest to bathe a newborn in a bathinette, sink, or plastic tub lined with a clean towel. Yes, a sink! Sometimes easiest is best; just be careful. Sinks are slippery and have all sorts of things sticking out like faucets and handles.

Avoid using bath seats. These seats provide support so a child can sit upright in an adult bathtub. Unfortunately, they can easily tip over. A child can fall into the bathwater and drown.

Use touch supervision . Have a towel and other bath supplies within reach so you can keep a hand on your baby at all times. If you've forgotten something or need to answer the phone or door during the bath, you must take the baby with you.

Start practicing infant water safety now : Never leave a baby alone in the bath, even for an instant. Most child drownings inside the home occur in bathtubs, and more than half of bathtub deaths involve children under 1 year of age.

Check the water temperature . Fill the basin with 2 inches of water that feels warm—not hot—to the inside of your wrist or elbow. If you're filling the basin from the tap, turn the cold water on first (and off last) to avoid scalding yourself or your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the hottest temperature at the faucet should be no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help avoid burns. In many cases you can adjust your water heater setting to not go above this temperature. Tap water that's too hot can quickly cause burns serious enough to require a hospital visit or even surgery. In fact, hot water scalds are the top cause of burns among babies and young children.

Keep baby warm. Once you've undressed your baby, place her in the water immediately so she doesn't get chilled. Use one of your hands to support her head and the other to guide her in, feet first. Talk to her encouragingly, and gently lower the rest of her body until she's in the tub. Most of her body and face should be well above the water level for safety, so you'll need to pour warm water over her body frequently to keep her warm.

Use soap sparingly . Soaps can dry out your baby's skin. If a cleanser is needed for heavily soiled areas, use only mild, neutral-pH soaps without additives. Rinse soap from the skin right away. Wash baby's hair two or three times a week using a mild shampoo or body wash.

You may see some scaly patches on your baby's scalp called cradle cap ―a harmless condition that appears in many babies. You can loosen the scales with a soft-bristled brush while shampooing in the bathtub, but it's also okay to leave it alone if it doesn't bother you. It's unlikely to bother your baby, and she will outgrow it.

Clean gently . Use a soft cloth to wash your baby's face and hair, being careful not to scrub or tug the skin. Massage her entire scalp gently, including the area over her fontanelles (soft spots). When you rinse shampoo from her head, cup your hand across her forehead so the suds run toward the sides, not into her eyes. If some suds do get into her eyes, use the wet washcloth to wipe them with plain, lukewarm water. Wash the rest of her body from the top down.

Have fun in the tub. If your baby enjoys her bath, give her some extra time to splash and play in the water. The more fun your child has in the bath, the less she'll be afraid of the water. Bathing should be a very relaxing and soothing experience, so don't rush unless she's unhappy.

Young infants don't really need bath toys , since just being in the water is usually exciting enough. Once a baby is old enough for the bathtub, however, toys become key. Containers, floating toys, even waterproof books make wonderful distractions as you cleanse your baby.

Get out and dry off. When bath time is finished, promptly wrap a towel around your baby's head and body to help her stay warm while she is still wet. Bathing a baby of any age is wet work, so you may want to wear a terry-cloth apron or hang a towel over your shoulder to keep yourself dry. Gently pat baby dry and apply a small amount of fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion right after a bath to help prevent dry skin or eczema.


Knowing the basics can make bathing your infant a breeze. Just make sure your baby stays comfortable and safe during bath time―and don't forget to soak up all the special moments that come with it!

Additional Information:

About Dr. Navsaria:

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and is director of the MD–MPH program there. He has practiced primary care pediatrics in a variety of settings and is the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. Dr. Navsaria regularly writes op-eds on health-related topics, does radio and television interviews, and frequently speaks locally, regionally and nationally on early brain and child development, early literacy, and advocacy to a broad variety of audiences. Follow him on Twitter @navsaria, Facebook, and visit his website

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