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How to Bathe a Baby

Baby Washing Methods

Though there are lots of different methods for bathing your baby, it's important to go with what works best for you. Focus on being safe and efficient, follow these basics, and from there, it's really up to you.

Sponge baths are relatively straightforward. Undress your baby in stages, removing the clothing over each area as you go, or else completely undress him, and keep him covered with a towel throughout the bath. Either way, leave the diaper on until the very end to prevent accidents.

Wash one area at a time, starting with the face and moving down the body. On your baby's face, use a wet washcloth (no soap!) and damp cotton balls to clean the eyes, moving from inner corner to outer corner [source: Springhill Medical Center]. For baby's body, add soap to the washcloth and wash from the neck moving down. Wash the genital area after you've washed the rest of the body. Use another wet washcloth to rinse each area after you've washed it, and dry each area as you go. Wash your baby's hair last, using just water or a mild shampoo designed for babies, and then rinse using your hand to pour water over his head.

When your baby's umbilical cord heals, it's time for tub baths. Tub baths follow the same process, but your baby will actually be in the water, which can be nerve-wracking. Just keep the first few tub baths quick, and it shouldn't be a rough transition. After you've filled the tub, lower your baby feet-first into the tub, always supporting his head and neck. Follow the same cleansing process you used during sponge baths: Start with the face and work your way down the body, finishing by washing his hair. Keep your baby warm by pouring water over him body regularly. When bath time is over, lift him out of the tub the same way you lowered him in, and wrap him in a towel.

But bath time is not quite over once your baby is nice and clean. Read on to find out how to dry and take care of your baby post-bath.