You should give your baby a sponge bath until:
• the umbilical cord falls off (1-4 weeks)
• the circumcision heals (1-2 weeks)
• the naval heals completely (1-4 weeks)
A bath two or three times a week in the first year is sufficient. More frequent bathing may be drying to the skin.
You'll need the following items before bathing your baby:
• a soft, clean washcloth
• mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
• a soft brush to stimulate the baby's scalp
• towels or blankets
• an infant tub with 2 to 3 inches of warm — not hot! — water (to test the water temperature, feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist). An infant tub is a plastic tub that can fit in the bathtub and is better fitted for the infant and makes bath time easier to manage.
• a clean diaper
• clean clothes
Sponge baths. For a sponge bath, pick a warm room and a flat surface, such as a changing table, floor, or counter. Undress your baby. Wipe your infant's eyes with a washcloth dampened with water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth to wash the other eye. Clean your baby's nose and ears with the washcloth. Then wet the cloth again, and using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.
Next, using baby shampoo, create a lather and gently wash your baby's head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and the genital area. Once you have washed those areas, make sure they are dry and then diaper and dress your baby.
Tub baths. When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.
Undress your baby and then place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room, to prevent chills. Make sure the water in the tub is no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and that the water is no longer running in the tub. Use one of your hands to support the head and the other hand to guide the baby in feet-first. Speaking gently, slowly lower your baby up to the chest into the tub.
Use a washcloth to wash his or her face and hair. Gently massage your baby's scalp with the pads of your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush, including the area over the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of the head. When you rinse the soap or shampoo from your baby's head, cup your hand across the forehead so the suds run toward the sides and soap doesn't get into the eyes. Gently wash the rest of your baby's body with water and a small amount of soap.
Throughout the bath, regularly pour water gently over your baby's body so he or she doesn't get cold. After the bath, wrap your baby in a towel immediately, making sure to cover his or her head. Baby towels with hoods are great for keeping a freshly washed baby warm.
While bathing your infant, never
leave the baby alone. If you need to leave the bathroom, wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you.