Baby Basics

Dry and dress.
Move your baby from the towel that is sitting in the tub and then dry her completely with the other towel. Diaper and dress your baby. Clean up your mess later. Once your baby is older, you’ll start submerging her body in a bath. You can use a small infant tub that fits into the regular bathtub, or a rubber pad on the base of the tub to prevent slippage. The small tub may be easier for you at first.

Fill the tub with two inches of water that is warm and comfortable to the touch. Test it on yourself first. Immerse your baby in water that has already been drawn, keeping her face well above the water surface. (Don’t put her in while water is running when temperature can vary.) Have all supplies (soap, washcloth, shampoo, towel) ready so you never have to take your eyes off baby while she’s in the water. Hold the baby’s head for support while washing with your other hand—babies can drown in less than six inches of water.

Use a slightly soapy cloth to wash her face first and then her body. Make sure to clean the genitals with plain water, pouring over all the creases. For circumcised boys, be sure to clean the area between the head and the shaft as debris will collect there. Shampoo hair last.

When you rinse soap or shampoo from the head, make sure to cup your hand across baby’s forehead so that suds stay out of the eyes. “You don’t have to bathe your baby every night,” says Brown. “Every three to four days is fine, but some families do it more often because they like a bath as a winding-down ritual.

M. J. Horowitz, a writer in Pasadena, California, remembers bathtime fondly now that her children are teenagers.