Expert Guide to Baby's Bath Time Routine

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 3 min

There are a lot of firsts in those first few weeks. Bath time is one of our favorite firsts and an essential step in the bedtime routine. Once the umbilical stump and plastibell (if circumcised) have fallen off, we can follow the below routine for bath time. Until then, a sponge bath may be given.

Bath time happens each evening as a matter of routine! Babies learn by association, and they will associate bath time with bedtime.

Before Bath:

Prep the bathroom with your essentials.


Here is what we recommend having within arms reach of the bathtub.

It’s Bath Time! 

  • Fill the tub with 5-6 inches of warm water.
  • The bouncy seat is placed next to the tub, with the adult sized towel.
    • Place baby on top of the towel, and strap them in.
  • Kneel down next to the tub and place the soap bottle in the tub for easy access.
  • Grasp the baby in a “C-hold”
    • This is demonstrated here in our Bathing video
      • Grab behind the head and neck and with your other hand scoop them right between the legs so that your fingers are splayed beneath their buttocks.
      • Your thumb and forefinger can then easily wrap around the upper thigh.
      • This hold is very secure and allows you to transfer the baby into the tub with ease.
  • It’s normal for baby to cry as they get use to the water, don’t stress!
  • Once you have the baby’s bottom resting against the bottom of the tub, remove the hand that was under their bottom and use that hand to grab a washcloth.
    • Then dip the washcloth in the warm water and cover baby’s belly with it so they stay warm.
    • Tip from a pro to help support your back: As you are bent over the tub, place your body weight (just below your ribcage) on the side of the tub.
  • Your hand behind baby’s head and neck will stay in position to support baby.
  • The free hand will dispense the soap onto the washcloth (which is on their tummy) as an easy access point!
    • Then we can use the soap from the washcloth to bathe babies legs, arms, rolls, torso and head.
  • We always clean the head last so baby doesn’t get too cold.
  • Give baby’s head a good scrub using the soft bristle brush and some shampoo.
    • This helps dislodge any dry skin that can mix with the oil in the scalp and cause cradle cap.
    • You will not hurt that soft spot with the baby brush.
  • Use the bath water and scoop some warm water to rinse baby’s head.
    • Try to avoid getting it in their face.
  • Now we are ready to scoop baby back up (remember the “C-hold”) and place them back in the bouncy seat with the towel.
    • Do not try to stand up with a wet, slippery baby in your hands. Transfer them to the bouncy seat first and then you can stand up and subsequently pick the baby up from the bouncy seat safely.
  • Take the baby (wrapped in that soft towel) back to their room to get into their jammies.
  • Never leave your baby/babies in the tub or around water unattended.

Here Are Some Things to Keep In Mind:

  • Crying is not a failure!
    • Some babies have some extra energy to burn off in the evening and may do so at bath time.
      • The acoustics of that small space can amplify those cries and turn a 10-minute bath time into a “quick dip”. Either will do.
  • Keeping baby happy baby in the bath means keeping them warm.
    • The warm washcloth on their belly helps us achieve this!
  • Worried about drying the skin? After the bath, we head to “tender time” at Moms on Call.
    • Once the diaper is on that clean, fresh-smelling baby, then we put a little baby lotion on their arms and legs and speak to them with love!
    • It is the sweetest time – ever!
  • You’ve Got This!!

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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