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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Ripplinger

Sponge bathe my newborn?

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Newborns don't really get dirty, but if you want to bathe your baby before the cord heals then a sponge bath is what's best.

First - a little about baby bath related items;

VERNIX + Delayed 1st baths: It used to be common practice to wash baby immediately after they're born but we now know that waiting at least 24 hours is beneficial for your newborn, and you. Baths can be delayed for up to a week. Why delay your baby's first bath? Because Vernix does a baby's body good! Vernix is the white stuff you find on a newborn. Vernix is beneficial to baby after they're born in many ways. It contains antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds. Its thick, waxy coating helps insulate the newborn after it's born. Its scent is that of mama which can help with bonding post birth as well as provide comfort to your newborn. Vernix also helps moisturize baby's skin. Don't wash it off, instead rub it in! The Healing Umbilical Cord: A baby's umbilical cord fragment takes between one to eight weeks (with an average of three weeks) to heal and fall away from their body. Until that time, apart from keeping it dry, it's best to leave it alone and let it do its thing naturally.

Ok. Now on to the bath:

Sponge baths are easy! I'll attach a video for those of us who are more visual and write the instructions below for those of us who like things written out step by step.

  1. Decide where you'll give the sponge bath. A bed, the floor, or a low table all work great. Just make sure it's a safe place where you have full control and easy access to baby and your supplies.

  2. Gather your supplies. You'll need:

Hat (putting a hat on baby while you bathe them helps to keep their body

temperature steady so they don't feel chilled.)

Two towels (one to put baby on while giving them the bath, and one to wrap baby

in while giving the bath to keep them warm as well as afterward while getting them


Small bowl of warm water (test using the inside of your wrist to make sure it's just

above room temperature and not too hot for baby's sensitive skin.)

Wash cloth (a baby sized cloth will feel less awkward when they're still small but a

regular size cloth is fine also)



Getting Started:

  1. Dim the lights. Babies see better in quieter lighting. (Just make sure there's enough light for you to see properly.)

  2. Make sure ambient temperature in the home suits baby while they're getting a bath and turn off all fans. Lay both towels out on your space (one on top of the other), lay baby on the towels, put the hat on your baby, undress baby and wrap them in the towel closest to their body.

  3. Start at the fingertips and/or toes. Working from the outside in toward their core, keeping them covered and exposing only the section you're working on, gently begin wiping baby with the warm, wet cloth.

  4. Talk, coo, and sing to your baby while you bathe them, make eye contact. Use this time to bond with your sweet little.

  5. Finish the bath by wiping their face last, getting under the chin and behind the ears as that's where milk tends to collect. When you clean the eye area, gently swipe from the inside corner out toward the ear, and use an un-used section of the cloth for each eye.

  6. Dress and cuddle your baby.

Notes: • Giving baby a bath is a perfect way for partners to bond with their newborns.

• Washing their hair is optional and not typically necessary. If you want to wash their

hair, it's usually enough to simply wipe it down with the wet cloth. Always do this last

and put the hat immediately back on to keep them warm.

•Take care to be extra gentle around their soft spots (fontanelles). Baby's have 6 on

their skull, 2 that most of us know about: The first being on the top toward the front -

middle-center, and the other on the back toward the lower-middle-center, and 4 that are

less known. (See image below)

•Soap and Lotion are optional. Vanicream is my favorite because it's gentle and easy

on baby's sensitive skin.

• You can give baby a bath anytime, but bathing them 30 minutes or so before their

next meal might give you a more content little one.

• You can use a changing pad under the towels to provide a more secure

surface for you and the baby.

For our purposes: I chose this video in order to show you how to bathe your baby while it remains swaddled. (note: This mama has chosen to put her little lovely in a tub because their umbilical cord has fully healed. She's also chosen to use soap and lotion - which is optional.) Remember; always sponge bathe baby while the umbilical cord is still healing.


Resources: • Umbilical Cord Care

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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