Baby bath time is something that a lot of new mamas look forward to. Some babies take a bit more convincing, but once they learn to like the water, bathtime can be a fun part of everyone’s day and a great way to bond.
But how frequent do these baths need to be? If you’re wondering how often to bathe a newborn, we’re taking a deep dive right here.
In this article 📝
- When do you start bathing a newborn?
- How often should you bathe a newborn?
- When should you start bathing your baby every day?
When do you start bathing a newborn?
You can give your newborn a full bath (i.e. all their clothes off, in a few inches of water, with a cuddly towel dry after) once their umbilical cord stump falls off and their belly button heals over.
This usually happens before they’re two weeks old.
But before then, it’s still important to keep a new baby clean even if you can’t give them a full bath.
How often should you bathe a newborn?
How often to sponge bathe a newborn
Some people call newborn sponge baths “topping and tailing” because, once a day, you clean their faces and their bottoms.
Although newborns don’t get that messy, there are a few reasons to clean them every day:
- When they spit up, it can get trapped in the folds of their neck, and this can make their skin raw and sore.
- Their first poops (meconium) are very sticky and harder to clean.
- Newborn’s tear ducts can often become blocked, which can lead to discharge from their eyes.
- Keeping their umbilical cord clean reduces the chance of an infection.
How often should I bathe a baby?
At the moment, dermatologists recommend that newborns have a bath three times a week.
That translates to about every other day, with some allowances for the days when baby is too cranky or tired to tolerate a bath.
Is it OK to bathe a newborn once a week? Also yes, as long as you’re also sponge bathing them and paying attention to the folds of their neck, under their arms, and the skin around their diaper on the other days.
Of course, there will be some days when your baby might need an “emergency bath” because of a blowout diaper.
But the “every other day” rule seems to strike the perfect balance between keeping them clean enough that their skin doesn’t get dirty, but not so clean that it loses its natural oils and ends up dry and irritated.
For the first six weeks or so when your baby’s skin is extra sensitive, some dermatologists also recommend avoiding soap completely for your baby’s bath, and only using plain water to avoid irritation.
➡️ Read more: An Intro to Babies at Bathtime
One more thing: In the beginning, baby’s bath can be whenever you like.
Your new baby will only be awake for a little while, and it’s easier to bath them when they’re not hungry, tired, or unsettled.
If that means an 11 AM bath, or reaching for the rubber duck at three in the afternoon, do what works for you.
When should you start bathing your baby every day?
Lots of mamas get into the routine of bathing their baby at bedtime every day. If this would work for you, it’s up to you when you start.
Some families might start with regular bedtime or morning baths when their baby’s skin is a bit less sensitive (after six weeks) and when they feel like they’ve got feeding and diapering under control and want to add a new element to the routine.
Others might wait longer, and might even bathe their kids every other day for years until they’re old enough to wash themselves! There’s no textbook answer here.
One thing to bear in mind is that your baby will get dirtier when they start to explore the world and when they start to eat solid food.
By the time they’ve got half the sandbox in their hair and yogurt in their ears, you might find that a daily bath (or even more often than that) is a necessity.
So be safe at bathtime, take your lead from your little one, and don’t feel like you need to have a schedule from the beginning. You’re doing great, mama.
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