Baby Bathing

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A bathtub, bath, or tub (informal) is a large container for holding water in which a person may bathe. Most modern bathtubs are made of acrylic or fiberglass, but alternatives are available in enamel on steel or cast iron; occasionally, waterproof finished wood. A bathtub is usually placed in a bathroom either as a stand-alone fixture or in conjunction with a shower.

Modern bathtubs have overflow and waste drains and may have taps mounted on them. They are usually built-in, but may be free-standing or sometimes sunken. Until recently, most bathtubs were roughly rectangular in shape but with the advent of acrylic thermoformed baths, more shapes are becoming available. Bathtubs are commonly white in colour although many other colours can be found. The process for enamelling cast iron bathtubs was invented by the Scottish-born American David Dunbar Buick.


Two main styles of bathtub are common:

  • Western style bathtubs in which the bather lies down. These baths are typically shallow and long.
  • Eastern style bathtubs in which the bather sits up. These are known as ofuro in Japan and are typically short and deep.



After the umbilical cord stump dries up, falls off, and the area heals, you can start giving your newborn a tub bath every few days. It’s easiest to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub filled with warm water instead of a standard tub.

Although some parents bathe their babies every day, until a baby is crawling around and getting into messes, a bath isn’t really necessary more than three times a week during the first year. Bathing your baby too often can dry out her skin.

Some babies find the warm water very soothing. If this is the case with your baby, it’s fine to let her linger. Others cry through the whole bath —that’s when you’ll want to get her in and out. Baths don’t need to take up a lot of time: Five minutes is long enough to get your baby clean before the water cools down too much.

When you do bathe your newborn, you may find it a little scary at first. Handling a wiggling, wet, and soapy little creature takes practice and confidence, so stay calm and maintain a good grip on her.



Never leave your baby unsupervised, even for a minute. If the doorbell or phone rings and you feel you must answer it, scoop him up in a towel and take him with you.

Never put your baby into a tub when the water is still running. (The water can quickly get too deep or hot.)

Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A child can get third-degree burns in less than a minute at 140 degrees.

Never leave your child unattended. (Yes, it’s so important we listed it twice). A child can drown in less than an inch of water—and in less than 60 seconds.



The water should be warm, not hot. Check it with your wrist or elbow and mix it well so there are no hot patches.

Hold your baby on your knee and clean their face, as described above.

Next, wash their hair with plain water, supporting them over the bowl.

Once you’ve dried their hair gently, you can take off their nappy, wiping away any mess.

Lower your baby gently into the bowl or bath using one hand to hold their upper arm and support their head and shoulders.

Don’t add any liquid cleansers to the bath water. Plain water is best for your baby’s skin in the first month.

Keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Use the other hand to gently swish the water over your baby without splashing.

Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a second.

Lift your baby out and pat them dry, paying special attention to the creases in their skin.

This is a good time to massage your baby. Massage can help them relax and sleep. Avoid using any oils or lotions until your baby is at least a month old.

If your baby seems frightened of bathing and cries, try bathing together. Make sure the water isn’t too hot. It’s easier if someone else holds your baby while you get in and out of the bath.



Some babies are born with long nails and it’s important to cut them in case they scratch themselves. You can buy special baby nail clippers or small, round-ended safety scissors. If you find the idea of cutting your baby’s nails too nerve-racking, you could try filing them down with a fine emery board instead.



  1. Clawfoot tub
  • Classic roll rim tubs, also called roll top tubs or flat rim tubs as seen in the picture above.
  • Slipper tubs – where one end is raised and sloped creating a more comfortable lounging position.
  • Double slipper tubs – where both ends are raised and sloped.
  • Double ended tubs – where both ends of the tub are rounded. Notice how one end of the classic tub is rounded and one is fairly flat.


  1. Pedestal tubs
  2. Baby bathtub
  3. Hot tubs
  4. Whirlpool tubs



  • Be prepared; have all of your supplies at hand so you won’t need to step away.
  • Always check water temperature before placing your baby in the tub.
  • Keep the bath under 10 min. to reduce cold stress.
  • Never leave your newborn unattended in a bath, even if the child is sitting in a bath chair.
  • If you have to step away, take your baby with you.
  • Never let the water run while your baby is in the tub, the temperature could change; resulting in burns or cold stress



A newborn’s skin is an important barrier to many pathogens as well as protects the infant from water loss. The pH of the newborn skin is approximately 6.4 at birth and then drops to 4.9 in the following three to four days. Maintaining the skins pH balance is essential to keeping its integrity. New evidence suggests that the skin barrier continues to develop up to twelve months following birth

One of the most controversial topics concerning newborn bathing has been whether to use plain water or liquid cleansers. Evidence for water only stems from research that some soaps and detergents can alter the pH of the skin by raising the pH from a normal 5.5 to 7.5 or greater. Proteases on the skin are pH sensitive enzymes and will work best in a range of 7.5 to 8.0. By using a soap or liquid cleanser which raises the pH of the skin, the enzyme activity will increase thus leading to greater skin breakdown However, water alone has been associated with skin dryness as well as the fact that used alone; it is a poor cleanser for ridding harmful bacteria off the skin These bacteria such as fecal enzymes can lead to nappy rash.



  • Use a mild liquid cleanser
  • Liquid cleaners which contain emollients can provide further protective effects on the newborn’s skin
  • Cleanser should not irritate the skin or the eyes, nor alter the pH of the skin
  • Soap free liquid varieties should be chosen over those which contain soap
  • Liquid cleansers should contain adequate and appropriate preservatives
  • Parents and others who care for the newborn should always read the product instructions
  • Contact health care provider if changes in newborn’s skin occur after use of a certain product