Bathe baby before or after feeding

Bathing Your Baby - FamilyEducation

Read tips on safely bathing your baby for the first time.

You can continue with sponge baths for as long as your baby seems to enjoy them. However, anytime after the umbilicus has fallen off and the circumcision (if any) has healed, you can begin bathing your baby in a sink or tub.

Until your baby can sit up on his own (and even long after), you need to hold the slippery devil tightly-or at least keep one hand on him to provide support and safety. In addition, you need to lean over and wash your baby with your other hand, without once relaxing your grip. If you're kneeling by the side of a conventional tub and leaning over the edge, you can strain your back. That's why most parents of newborns bathe their babies in a sink or portable tub.

Most kitchen sinks have the advantage of being at approximately the right height for the average adult to wash a baby (like washing dishes) without significant back strain. They have a ready supply of water (though be sure to swing the spigot away from the sink or cover it with a washcloth to prevent unpleasant bumps). Kitchen sinks often also have the advantage of a sprayer attachment that makes rinsing easy (and, for some babies, fun). If you use a sink, be sure to line the bottom of it with a towel, rubber mat, or the foam-rubber insert from a portable tub to keep your baby's bottom from slipping and sliding.


If you put one foot up on a stool (or open the under-sink cabinets and put one foot on the ledge) while bathing your baby, you will probably feel considerably less back strain.

Portable tubs have the advantage that you can use them anywhere (including outside if weather permits). The need to have access to a source of warm water and the likelihood of considerable splashes and spills, however, make it most practical to set up the portable tub in the kitchen or bathroom. Choose a surface (a kitchen counter, a table, a vanity) where:

  • The tub sits securely
  • You have plenty of room around the tub for all the essentials (soap, shampoo, towel, diaper, clean clothes, and so on)
  • You do not need to strain your back by bending over so much
Come On In! The Water's Fine!

Successful first baths often come down to timing. If you bathe your baby three to four hours after she eats, she may be getting so hungry (and cranky) that she has no patience for the bath. On the other hand, if you bathe her right after she eats, the jostling may make her spit up. Aim for a bathtime between an hour and two hours after a meal. Many parents find that sandwiching bathtime between the evening meal and the final feeding of the day sets up a warm and relaxed atmosphere that makes it easier for the baby to nod off.


If you can, set your water temperature at a maximum of around 96-100 degrees Fahrenheit (37-38 degrees Celsius). Also, when you run a bath (in a sink or tub), always turn the hot water tap off first. That way, if water drips into the tub, it will be cold-which your baby may find unpleasant, but not dangerous.

Before putting your baby in the water-indeed before you even undress her completely-test the water temperature with your elbow to make sure it is comfortably warm. (Don't use your hands as a gauge; they may be less sensitive to heat. ) After you test the temperature, undress your baby and, with one hand gripping her thigh and supporting her bottom and the other hand gripping her shoulder and supporting her neck and head, lower her bottom gently into the water. Maintain a secure hold and talk to her in calm tones in order to minimize her startle reaction. If your baby tenses up in the water, continue to hold her securely with both hands until she feels more relaxed. Give her time to get used to it.

Be sensitive to your baby's reactions. If she violently objects to being put in the water, remember that she doesn't have to take a bath. After all, you're not likely to overcome her fears by immersing her in them. Instead, continue giving her sponge baths and try again once a month or so until she feels more comfortable with all that water. If your baby doesn't get upset by the water (or if she calms down after her initial shock), maintain your firm grip on her shoulder (and your support of her head and neck), but release the hand on her thigh.

Now that you have a free hand, you can begin washing your baby. As you did with sponge baths, start at the top and move down. Again, wash and (if you use soap) rinse one part at a time before moving on to the next part. If you soap up your entire baby before rinsing, you're almost sure to lose your grip. A wriggling, soapy baby is like a greased pig: impossible to hold and then impossible to catch.

If the water cools too much while your baby is in the sink or tub, take her out. Because water temperature from a tap can change suddenly, filling or rewarming the sink or tub while your baby is in the water can be dangerous.

Always use two hands to lift your baby out of the tub (Caution: Slippery When Wet). Then immediately wrap her up in a towel. If you're not using a hooded towel, be sure to cover up your baby's head to keep her warm and cozy. Finally, when drying your baby, make sure to dry the many creases and folds in her skin just as carefully as you washed them. Trapped moisture in these creases can lead to a nasty rash.

Bathing Your Baby -

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Ages & Stages

Ages & Stages

By: Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP

Bathing your baby is an experience many parents treasure. It's a great time to bond, distraction-free, as your tiny new family member enjoys the sensation of warm water on their skin. Yet this common parenting ritual often comes with questions, and sometimes anxiety, about when and how to do it well.

Here are some frequently asked questions from parents about topics related to baby bath timing, frequency, safety, and more.  

When should newborns get their first bath?

The timing of your baby's very first bath has changed over the last few years. While most institutions used to bathe babies within an hour or two of birth, many are changing their policies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends delaying baby's first bath until 24 hours after birth—or waiting at least 6 hours if a full day isn't possible for cultural reasons. 


Note: Babies of mothers with HIV or the Hepatitis viruses will still be bathed after the initial breastfeed in order to decrease risk to hospital staff and family members.

How often do babies need a bath once they are home?

Newborns don't need a bath every day. They rarely sweat or get dirty enough to need a full bath that often.

Three baths per week during baby's first year may be enough. Bathing more frequently can dry out your baby's skin.

Can my baby have a bath before the umbilical cord falls off?

Only give your newborn sponge baths until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off, which usually happens by about one or two weeks of age. If it remains beyond that time, there may be other issues at play. See the baby's doctor if the cord has not dried up and fallen off by the time the baby is two months old. Learn more here.

How to give a sponge bath

A sponge bath is like a regular bath, except you don't put your baby in the water.


When is my baby ready for a regular bath?

Once the umbilical area is healed, you can try placing your baby directly in the water. His first baths should be as gentle and brief as possible. He may protest a little. (If this happens go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again). Babies usually make it clear when they're ready.



Knowing the basics can make bathing your infant a breeze. Just make sure your baby stays comfortable and safe during bath time―and don't forget to soak up all the special moments that come with it!  

Additional Information:

  • Infant Water Safety: Protect Your New Baby from Drowning

  • 5 Bathroom Safety Tips for Infants & Young Children

  • Baby Birthmarks & Rashes


About Dr.


Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, FAAP is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and is director of the MD–MPH program there. He has practiced primary care pediatrics in a variety of settings and is the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. Dr. Navsaria regularly writes op-eds on health-related topics, does radio and television interviews, and frequently speaks locally, regionally and nationally on early brain and child development, early literacy, and advocacy to a broad variety of audiences. Follow him on Twitter @navsaria, Facebook, and visit his website 


Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

How to properly bathe a child. How to bathe your baby for the first time

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2-step procedure for the child's swimming from Johnson'S®

Follow us 2-step bath guide to strengthen the bond between you and baby through touch. nine0005

Fill the tub with warm water and bathe your child with a pleasantly scented product such as Johnson's® Baby Shampoo and Wash & Bath, which cleanses the skin without drying it out.

Then give your baby a soothing massage with Johnson's® Cotton Softness Oil, which is great for moisturizing baby's skin.

JOHNSON'S® Baby Toe Toe Wipes are a quick and easy way to gently cleanse your baby's skin. The wipes are safe for sensitive children's skin, like clean water, they quickly wash off dirt, they are fragrance-free. nine0005

Bathing Tips and Tricks for Babies

Bathing is a great way to signal the transition from wakefulness to rest and to feel closer to your baby. Here are some tips and tricks to make bathing easier and more enjoyable.

  • Clean only exposed areas of your baby's body.

  • Every child is unique: some don't like to take a bath right after eating. Many mothers believe that it is better to bathe the baby before feeding. nine0005

  • Remember, it's important to keep your baby safe while bathing. NEVER leave a child alone in the bath.

  • Set the water temperature to 49 degrees or lower to prevent scalding.

Water does not wash away dirt that may remain after wearing diapers.

Most pediatricians recommend bathing babies 2 or 3 times a week, then more frequently as the baby grows. * Between baths, you can sponge your baby with a gentle cleanser and then moisturize the skin with baby oil or milk. nine0005

* According to the recommendations of the Union of Pediatricians of Russia:

Bathing promotes social and emotional development

Your gentle, loving touch while bathing and hugs after him will help the child grow up healthy and happy. Indeed, studies have shown that parental touch promotes social-emotional development as well as improves motor skills.

What you can do

Have fun, praise the child for success, for example, when he learns to squeeze a sponge or float toys in the water.

Explore new things, play with them, for example, learn how to splash by slapping water.

After bathing, hug your baby - this way you will strengthen your emotional connection.

What is it for

Your child is smart and capable, and you rejoice in his achievements while playing together.

The child learns to take turns and understands that playing together is fun and enjoyable. nine0005

The child feels that he is loved, and this raises his self-esteem.

How to properly bathe a child | Happy Moments

With the advent of a small child in a family, sometimes the simplest things seem incredibly difficult for new parents. Feeding the baby, dressing and hygiene ... And such an event as the first bath turns out to be a whole sacrament for many, requiring special knowledge and skills. However, having mastered this process, very soon both parents and the baby will begin to receive a lot of pleasure, pleasant emotions and benefits from it. nine0005

Benefits of bathing

Bathing a child in the bath is not just about taking care of the child's skin, but also strengthening the immune system. During water procedures, the baby hardens, trains its not yet perfect thermoregulation. The child learns the world, masters a new environment for himself, feels his body differently, and of course, receives positive emotions together with his parents. In addition, taking a bath soothes, relaxes and prepares the baby for sleep. Thus, daily bathing becomes an important stage in the formation of the baby's regimen from the first days of life. nine0005

Bath time

The evening is considered the ideal time for bathing the baby. Water perfectly calms, adjusts to a night's sleep. It is important for parents who have chosen this daily routine to create an atmosphere of peace themselves so that the baby does not get overexcited and can sleep peacefully. However, there are children for whom evening bathing is not suitable due to individual characteristics of the regimen: then their parents should bathe him in the morning, choosing the most convenient moment in order to get the maximum benefit and positive emotions from the process. nine0005

Another question that worries many parents is when to wash their baby - before feeding or after? And even pediatricians do not have a clear answer, since the baby himself determines the time for bathing with his mood. If the baby is hungry and crying - taking a bath, of course, should be postponed, after waiting some time after feeding (especially if the baby is bottle-fed, because mixtures are digested longer than breast milk).

Preparing for bathing

Most parents prefer to wash their newborn baby in a plastic baby bath with a little water in it. Beforehand, the bath must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected by dousing with boiling water. For the first baths of a newborn, it is recommended to use cooled boiled water, or add a weak solution of potassium permanganate to the tap. nine0005

The optimal temperature to start swimming is 33-34 degrees. If you have not had time to get a water thermometer, you can make sure that the water is at the right temperature by dipping your elbow into the bath.

The air temperature in the room should also be comfortable: you need to make sure that there are no drafts in the room, but you shouldn’t close all the doors either, so that later on leaving the stuffy bath you don’t create sudden temperature changes for the baby.

Prepare a bucket of warm water for rinsing your baby, a diaper and a large towel to wrap your baby up after bathing. Before you wash your baby, prepare clean clothes, cotton swabs, a clean diaper, and baby skin care products. nine0005

Baby bath products

Modern baby bath products can be used from the first days of life. Baby soap and shampoo should have a special pH level that suits the delicate and sensitive skin of the baby, be sure to be hypoallergenic, and do not contain harmful fragrances. Pediatricians recommend using soap or foam for bathing very young children no more than 1-2 times a week. Shampoo your child's hair once a week. On other days, it is enough to bathe the baby in clean water. If necessary, a decoction of chamomile, calendula or string can be added to the water: this is especially true when irritation or prickly heat appears on the child's skin. nine0005

Bathing sequence

Before bathing your baby, make sure the tub is at a height that is comfortable for you.

Learn more