Update on Newborn Bathing

Joanne McManus Kuller, RN, MS


NAINR. 2014;14(4):166-170. 

In This Article


Ensure that shared bath equipment is disinfected before and after each use since bathing equipment can harbor microorganisms.[20]

Make sure that all supplies are at hand and the room is warm before undressing the baby. Keeping one hand under the baby's head and upper back, use the other hand to place the baby – feet first - into the warm water. It's easiest to place your non-dominant arm behind the back and use your dominant hand for cleaning. Use the dampened cloth without soap to clean the face. If shampooing the baby's hair, gently massage the shampoo or baby wash over the entire scalp, including the area over the fontanelles. Rinse the head carefully to avoid suds running down the baby's face.

Put a small amount of cleanser into your hand and wash the rest of the baby's body from the top down finishing with the diaper area. Avoid rubbing with a cloth, use rinsing or immersion instead. Pay special attention to creases under the arms, around the neck, behind the ears and in the genital area. Always keep one hand securely on the baby. When the baby comes out of the tub, bath towels with hoods are the most effective way to keep the baby's head warm.

Parents should be educated about bath safety, including the following guidance: mix the bath water to ensure an even temperature, check the water temperature before placing baby in, place the tub on a sturdy surface, never leave the baby alone or with other children in the bath, and select bathing products that are mild and nonirritating to the skin and eyes.[26]