Bathing Baby

Bath time can be a special time for parents to socialize with their baby.

It is okay to give your baby a full bath once you bring him/her home, but you don’t need to bathe your baby every day. Sponge bathing a baby’s face and hands and thoroughly cleaning the genital area after each diaper change will help keep your baby clean between baths.


Bathing a slippery newborn can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with a little planning and practice, you will become more comfortable. Choose a time when you’re not rushed or not likely to be interrupted. If you bathe your baby after a feeding, consider waiting for your baby’s tummy to settle a bit first. Remove any jewelry that might scratch your baby.

The room should be warm and you should have a flat surface to work from. Make sure you have supplies within reach so that you never leave your baby alone.


  • Mild soap
  • Towels
  • Soft blanket or change pad
  • Washcloth
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Change of clothing
  • Basin/tub

Fill bath tub with two to three inches of water that feels comfortable to the touch (about 37-38°C). To keep your baby warm, pour bath warm water over his or her body throughout the bath.

Handling Baby

When the bath supplies and bath water are ready, undress the baby. Cradle the head and shoulders in one hand. With the other hand, reach across baby’s back and grasp beneath the arm, supporting the baby’s body for a secure hold. Gently lower baby into the water. Keep one hand cradling the baby, while the supporting hand becomes the free hand and can be used for care and reaching as needed.

Cleaning Baby’s Body

  • Use clean water to wash the baby’s eyes, wiping from inner eye to outer eye. Use a different area of the wash cloth for each eye.
  • If washing the baby’s hair; support the 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.
  • Continue on with the baby’s ears, mouth, face and body. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck and in the diaper area. Also wash between your baby’s fingers and toes.
  • Wipe a girl’s genitals from front to back. Gently wash the vaginal lips.
  • Keep your baby boy’s penis clean by gently washing the area. Do not try to pull back the foreskin. Usually, it is not fully retractable until a boy is three to five years old, or even until after puberty. Never force it.

Transfer baby from the basin/tub in the same method that was used to immerse the baby into the water. Cradle the head and shoulders in one hand, reach across baby’s back and grasp beneath the arm for a secure hold and support the body with the other. Pat your baby completely dry with a towel.

Never leave your baby unattended while bathing, not even for a moment.

Cautions: Infant Bath Seats and Bath Rings

The use of infant bath seats and bath rings have been linked to the drowning death of infants in Canada. Babies have drowned when the suction cups on the bath seat came loose and the bath seat tipped over when the baby slipped through the leg openings, or when the baby was able to climb out of the bath seat.

These deaths occurred when the babies were out of their caregiver’s sight and reach for only seconds.

Health Canada does NOT recommend their use.

Share This Page:
Last updated: 2020-07-31