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Baby bath basics: A parent's guide
What about water temperature?
Warm water is best. To prevent scalding, set the thermostat on your water heater to below 120 F (49 C). Always check the water temperature with your hand before bathing your baby. Be sure the room is comfortably warm, too. A wet baby can be easily chilled.
What's the best way to hold my newborn in the tub?
A secure hold will help your baby feel comfortable — and stay safe — in the tub. Use one of your hands to support your baby's head and the other to hold and guide your baby's body into the water, feet first. Support your baby's head and torso with your arm and hand. Wrap your arm under your baby's back, grasping your baby firmly under the armpit. When you clean your baby's back and buttocks, lean him or her forward on your arm. Continue to grasp your baby under the armpit.
What should I wash first?
Most parents start with the baby's face and move on to dirtier parts of the body. Wash inside skin folds, and rinse the genitals carefully.
Should I wash my newborn's hair?
Wash your newborn's hair if it seems dirty or your baby develops cradle cap — a common condition characterized by scaly patches on the scalp.
Supporting your baby's head and shoulders with your free hand, gently massage a drop of mild baby shampoo into your baby's scalp. Rinse the shampoo with a damp washcloth or directly under the faucet, cupping one hand across your baby's forehead to keep suds out of his or her eyes.
Do I need a special type of soap?
There's no need to use special soap for a baby bath. In fact, plain water is fine for newborns. When needed, use a mild moisturizing soap. Avoid bubble bath and scented soaps.
Will lotion after a baby bath help prevent rashes?
Most newborns don't need lotion after a bath. The best way to prevent rashes is to dry inside your baby's folds of skin after each bath. If you choose to use lotion, pick one that's hypoallergenic.Previous page
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- McInerny TK, et al. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:843.
- Bryanton J, et al. Tub bathing versus traditional sponge bathing for the newborn. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing. 2004;33:704.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:65.
- Jana LA, et al. Heading Home With Your Newborn. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2011:133.
- Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Neonatal Skin Care. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: 2007:17.
- Ness MJ, et al. Neonatal skin care: A concise review. International Journal of Dermatology. 2013;52:14.