Bathing your baby can be an enjoyable bonding activity.

©iStockphoto.com/Michael DeLeon

Giving your baby a bath for the first time can be a scary prospect -- how do you handle such a fragile little body when it gets wet and slippery? How often do babies even need a bath? And what if your baby is scared of the water? These are all valid concerns, but bathing your baby can be a simple, enjoyable activity.

First, relax -- many experts believe that babies can pick up on their parents' moods, so it's important to remain calm when it's time for a bath. It might ease your mind to know that babies don't need to be bathed all that often, pediatricians say [source: Johnson & Johnson]. Two or three baths a week should be enough, as long as you're cleaning your baby's face and hands after feedings and the genital area after diaper changes.

It might also be reassuring to know that for the first few weeks, a "real" tub bath isn't even necessary. In fact, until your baby's umbilical cord detaches and -- if applicable -- your baby's circumcision is healed, tub baths are actually not recommended [source: WebMD]. This means you'll start with sponge baths and gradually ease into baths in a tub, which will make the bathing process easier for both you and your baby.

As for timing, bathe your baby whenever it's convenient for you and most enjoyable for your baby. If baths seem to relax your baby, try it at night as part of your baby's bedtime routine. If not, try to work bath time in right before a feeding, since baths too soon after feeding might make your baby more likely to spit up [source: Johnson & Johnson]. Don't be afraid to experiment a bit to find a routine that works.

With a little preparation, bath time can be a great experience for both you and your baby. Read on to see why multiple washcloths are a must on your list of things to gather up when preparing for bath time.