SingaporeMotherhood | Baby & Toddler

April 2018

How to Bathe a Newborn – Step-by-Step Instructions for New Parents

The first few days of parenthood are always overwhelming and learning to bathe a newborn infant can be extra daunting. Here’s some guidance – or a refresher course – to get you started.

Even the most well-prepared daddies and mummies get nervous when it comes to giving their newborns a bath. Infants are so tiny and seem so fragile – what if Baby slips through my fingers and falls into the water? Don’t worry, just follow the step-by-step instructions below and you’ll soon be a baby bathing expert!


1. Gather Bath Supplies

Make sure that you have everything on hand before Baby even comes into the picture. Prepare all the items such as clean washcloths and a mild baby liquid soap. You also want a plastic cup for scooping and pouring water over baby. This avoids the scary noises and unnecessary splashes from running taps and shower heads. Over on the bed or changing table, lay out a protective mat, with a soft cotton hoodie towel, fresh diaper, clean clothes and anything else you require, at the ready.

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2. Fill the Tub

Always set the baby tub securely on a counter or table. To avoid slipping and sliding around, lay a rubber bath mat or folded towel on the bottom. Fill the tub no more than three inches (7-8 cm) deep with room temperature water (about 32°C). Feel the water with your inner wrist to ensure it’s neither too hot nor too cold. Some doctors recommend using only water to bathe a newborn, but given our humid weather, you may prefer to add a squirt of baby wash, such as Cetaphil Baby Moisturising Bath & Wash.

3. Clean Baby’s Face

To avoid Baby catching a chill, you can start cleaning her face while she is still dressed. Using cotton balls dampened in cooled boiled water, gently clean each eye, starting from the inner corners and moving outwards. Clean around the nostrils and the ears (ears are self-cleaning, so just wipe the outer part and behind the ears). Always use a new cotton ball for each part of the face and never insert anything into the nose or ears. A damp washcloth will suffice for Baby’s kissable forehead, cheeks and chin.

bathe a newborn - baby bath

4. Wash Baby’s Hair

Now you can undress Baby and wrap her in a towel. Tuck her body under your arm, supporting her head and neck with the same hand. Gently rub the head with a wet washcloth dipped in the water. If Baby has cradle cap, use a soft-bristled brush to coax the softened flaky skin from the wet scalp. Only use shampoo after Baby is at least three months old; choose a tear-free formula like Cetaphil Baby Shampoo. A two-in-one product such as Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo can be convenient too.

5. Take the Plunge

Remove the towel and gently slide Baby into the tub feet first. Support her head by resting her neck on your arm, while gently but firmly gripping the underarm that is away from you. With the other hand, wet the body using the plastic cup. Use a washcloth to gently massage soapy water onto Baby’s skin from neck down. Part and wash inside the creases on Baby’s chubby neck, arms and legs, not forgetting the genital area. Then turn her over (resting her torso and face on your arm) to wash the back and buttocks.

bathe a newborn - cetaphil baby daily lotion

6. Wrap It Up

Guess what – you’re almost done! Remember, you don’t have to scrub till every inch of Baby is squeaky clean. In fact, limit a newborn’s bath to just five minutes to avoid her catching a cold. Just pour a few cups of clean warm water over the tiny body as a final rinse. Then carefully lift her out of the tub and into the comforting folds of a soft, dry towel. One with a built-in hoodie is perfect. Quickly pat – not rub – Baby dry. Again, pay attention to those adorable creases, ensuring the skin is dry in between.

7. Dress Up

Finally, put on a fresh diaper and dress Baby in clean clothes. If Baby’s tender skin appears dry, a gentle moisturiser such as Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion can help keep it soft, smooth and healthy. Unless otherwise advised by your paediatrician, always use items such as moisturisers or baby powder sparingly as these may clog baby’s sensitive pores. Now all that’s left is to pick Baby up, give her a cuddle and congratulate yourselves on a job well done!

Bonus Notes!

bathe a newborn - baby sleep

Umbilical cord

Some doctors may advise against submerging Baby in water until the umbilical stump has dried, fallen off and healed completely. This is to prevent risk of infection. In the meantime, you can give Baby sponge baths and clean around the umbilical stump with a cotton ball dampened in cooled boiled water. Either way, pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel and always keep diapers below the stump. You want it to be exposed to fresh air, not damp urine.

Bath times

Newborns and young babies don’t need more than one bath daily. Simply make sure you keep their diaper area, face and hands clean, using baby wet wipes or a warm washcloth. Which part of the day to give Baby a bath is up to you. Some babies find a morning bath stimulating, while others find an evening bath soothing – which can make for a relaxing pre-bedtime routine.

bathe a newborn - cetaphil baby range

Skincare products

When choosing bath and skincare products for your little ones, always choose those formulated specially for babies. A total of 200 dermatologists and paediatricians in Germany surveyed online from February to March 2015 recommend the Cetaphil Baby range. Developed by skin experts and manufactured to the highest quality in Europe, Cetaphil Baby is free of parabens, mineral oils, soap, preservatives and colourants. It is dermatologically tested and formulated to be gentle on babies’ delicate skin.

If you’re still not convinced, how about trying it for yourself? Click here to receive free Cetaphil Baby samples!

You can also find out more about Cetaphil Baby at or visit it on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated.

Finally, remember that infants require constant support in water, and never leave them unattended during baths or on the changing table. And don’t forget to make bath time fun too. Engage Baby by making eye contact, singing songs and telling her what you’re doing (even if she’s too young to understand). You’ll be surprised at how bath times can provide the most blissful bonding opportunities for you and Bub. Enjoy!


Header image: Lisa Johnson from Burst
Feature image: Picsea on Unsplash

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Galderma Singapore

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bathe a newborn - baby on towel

How to Bathe a Newborn – Step-by-Step Instructions for New Parents