Written by Tenley Haraldson. Reviewed by Sean Busch.
As new parents, you may dream about a giggling baby in a bathtub full of bubbles, but you may face a more tearful ordeal (and not just for your little one).
We’ve compiled the following helpful baby bathing tips to take the stress and mystery out of your newborn’s first bath – and beyond.
1. When to Give a Bath to Your Newborn
It's a little-known fact that there’s not a great need to wash your newborn. Healthy babies are born with a special coating (vernix caseosa), which is a waxy substance that helps regulate temperature while keeping skin moisturized.
Until their umbilical cords fall off (usually around 1-2 weeks), you can use a sponge/cloth and warm water. Gently clean between any folds of skin, under the neck, and behind the ears. After their navel (and circumcised area, if applicable) has healed, you can start bathing your infant once or twice a week.
Obviously, once babies start crawling, exploring, and eating (aka flinging) solids, they get dirty – fast. In between full baths (possibly every 1-2 days), keep their face, hands, neck, and bottom clean with a warm, wet washcloth.
2. What Kind of Baby Bathtub Should I Use?
To prevent slipping and sliding, we recommend using a baby bathtub that's contoured and/or has an internal sling for support. When your child starts rolling and crawling (at around 6 months), your regular bathtub should be fine to use with an extremely low water level.
Though it probably goes without saying, always supervise your infants and small children during bath time.
3. How to Introduce Your Baby to Bath Time
Whether you sing lullabies or read plastic bath books aloud, baby bath time allows incredible bonding opportunities between you and your little one – and skin-to-skin contact is crucial for your baby’s sensory development.
While some babies can’t get enough of “splish-splashing”, others can’t stand it. Just like any new experience, it can be a shock to the system. Slowly ease your child into it by:
- Using a soothing voice.
- Choosing a time when your baby is relaxed, not when they’re tired or immediately after they’ve eaten.
- Getting in the bath with them.
- Using a cup to gently wash away shampoo and soap.
- Ensuring the right water and room temperature (more on that below).
After bath time, gently pat your child’s skin dry and place them in enough towels (or a hooded towel for head-to-toe warmth). Immediately follow up with an organic baby lotion to lock in moisture.
4. Can I Shower with My Infant?
Some new parents find that showering with their baby provides better results. As a father of five children, one of our founders, Paul Tracy has plenty of experience:
“I strongly recommend holding your baby and getting into the shower with them to keep them calm. The ideal scenario is to have one parent hold while the other parent bathes. If you have multiple kids (like our twins), that isn’t always an option. Secondly, falling water can be terrifying for infants, so gently use a handheld shower device to avoid the stream hitting their head or face directly. Keep a dry towel handy to dab their eyes and use soothing conversation throughout.”
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5. What Temperature Is Best for a Baby Bath?
From infants to adults, the best bathing routine is better with warm water (around 100°F/37.78ºC). While you can consider investing in a bath thermometer, you can also use your elbow or wrist to determine the water temperature. Before placing your baby in the water, swirl the water around with your hand to disperse any hot spots.
Keep the Bathroom Warm, Too
Since babies chill easily, the room should be free of drafts and kept warm (about 75°F/23.8ºC). During winter months, consider using a space heater at a safe distance. Placing a warm, wet towel on your baby's belly can also prevent them from catching cold.
6. Is Bubble Bath Safe for Babies?
While bubbles help clean and add a little fun to bath time, newborns and infants really don’t need these products: Parents do most of the work and infants aren’t old enough to be entertained by them.
If you use a bubble bath, ensure that it’s safe for extra-sensitive skin, like Puracy Natural Baby Bubble Bath. Developed by doctors, our gentle, coconut-based cleanser is completely biodegradable, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and delicately scented with organic essential oils.
In addition to being extremely nourishing, you don’t need to worry about the 99.5% natural ingredients getting into mouths or eyes. Our gentle formula means that discomfort is extremely short-lived and can be fixed by rinsing with some fresh water.
7. Baby Bath Products to AvoidAccording to the National Eczema Association, many baby bath products contain harsh chemicals that can cause redness, burning, itching, and even hives. There are countless ingredients used in baby bath products that have no business being used on your little one’s ultra-sensitive skin:
Artificial fragrances are meant to simulate natural ones, but they could contain hundreds of separate chemicals (including phthalates, which are absorbed through the skin).
Because fragrances are a “trade secret”, the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list all of these ingredients. In other words, you don’t really know what’s used in a lot of personal care products.
Parabens are preservatives commonly used to extend the shelf life of baby products. Recent studies have linked infant exposure to parabens to growth issues during the first few years of life, specifically a higher body-mass index in female children.
Even though formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen and a common allergen, it’s still used in upwards of 20% of U.S. personal care products as a preservative. Common chemical names may include (but are not limited to):
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Polyoxymethylene urea
What’s more, formaldehyde releasers occur when certain chemicals decompose and/or when these chemicals are synthesized from formaldehyde itself. More than 30 are approved for use by the FDA.
Chemicals like methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) and methylisothiazolinone (MIT) are added to many personal care products to prevent bacteria, fungi, and yeast growth, providing far longer shelf lives.
There are, however, increased reports of sensitivity to isothiazolinones, especially with leave-on products like lotions and body creams. Around 8% of study subjects experienced an allergic reaction to isothiazolinones, even with lower concentrations in use.
As a surfactant, cocamidopropyl betaine helps break the surface tension of water and help dirt, oil, and grime rinse away.
In 2004, this substance was named the “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. While a safe ingredient for many people, low-quality cocamidopropyl betaine is often a skin irritant.
8. What Are the Best Natural Baby Bath Products?
Gentle, effective, and natural baby products don’t have to be expensive, and Puracy’s formulations proof of that. Instead of harsh chemicals, we use coconut-based cleansers, nourishing vegetable-based moisturizers, and essential oils for fragrance.
Make Baby Bath Time More Enjoyable with Puracy
We're a growing family company that’s dedicated to providing the safest, most effective natural baby products possible. If you’re not totally satisfied – for whatever reason – we’ll refund your purchase. No questions, no returns, no hassles.