Parents usually first encounter baby-specific equipment as they prepare to take their newborn home from the hospital: most hospitals won’t allow you to leave unless your baby is strapped into a car seat, for safety. The next big issue is often how to bathe your newborn … every parent worries about their baby’s first bath: What temperature should the water be? Should I use soap? If so, what kind? Should I use shampoo? Should I bathe my baby in my own bathtub, the sink, or something else? In short: How do I give my baby their first bath? This post will give you the guidance to safely and confidently give your baby that first bath

First things first …

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First, Get Yourself Ready

Take three deep breaths. Get in to the right frame of mind, let go of everything else you ‘need’ to do and come in to the present moment by noticing in detail what is right here and right now.

Create a bathing ritual: Music is a nice way to create a good atmosphere for bathing. You can use different types of music for different times of the day or for your different moods. If it is nighttime, and her bath is part of your bedtime routine you may want to play calm quiet music or lullabies. If it is in the morning play fun, upbeat music and nursery rhymes she can learn the words to. When my babies were little I bathed them in the morning because bathing always woke them up. We used to sing and dance during bath time. It made us feel good and we had fun as we strengthened our bond together.

Next, Get Organized for Baby’s First Bath

Get the Room Ready: 

Prepare everything you will need for the bath before you start. Have everything you need within easy reach so you do not have to turn away from your baby.

Prepare the Room for Baby’s First Bath

Make sure the area is warm enough and that there is no breeze or wind coming through the area which will give your baby a chill.

The best temperature for the room during a bath is around 72°F (68-72°F or 20-22.2°C) or a little warmer just during bath time.

Other Things You’ll Need for Baby’s First Bath

All humans - especially babies - absorb chemicals through their skin. Babies have a very large surface area of skin compared to their body size, so they are extra sensitive to potential absorption of toxins through the skin. That is why you will notice that so many products are NOT approved for babies less than six months old.

Soaps and Shampoos

Have soap and shampoo ready. Use soaps with no color or fragrance and that are chemical free when possible.

Avoid the Endocrine-Disruptors

Look for soaps, shampoos and lotions that are Phthalate- and Paraben-free.

Phthalates and Parabens, are chemicals that are known as “endocrine-disruptors” - they interfere with  normal hormone production and action in your baby’s body , they also are associated with causing certain types of cancer as well as causing allergies and asthma. So the less exposure your baby has to these chemicals the better. See Resources, below.

When Shopping for Baby’s First Bath

When shopping, look for organic, all-natural soaps and shampoos, because they are naturally free of these types of chemicals. Babies have very sensitive skin which gets irritated easily; fragrance and color  can irritate your baby’s skin and cause rashes. Buy fragrance free and dye free products at least until your baby is 6 months old.

Organic and all natural soaps are good alternatives to the chemical products. Buy color free and fragrance free products because, even though they are natural, essential oils can irritate your baby’s delicate skin.

Avoid using essential oils directly on your baby’s skin because they are absorbed through her skin into the blood stream and may cause unwanted effects. There have not been any large studies on the safety of using essential oils on babies skin.  If you want to use lavender oil for its calming effects, place some in the room so that your baby smell it, not wear it.

Other Items for Baby’s First Bath

  • A clean soft washcloth or two.
  • A clean basin for bathing your baby that has a textured surface where you can lie baby as you wet her.  You do not want to put your baby’s tummy in water until her belly button stump falls off.
  • A clean, soft ,and warm towel to dry her after her bath.
  • A cap ready for your baby’s head when she is very young to keep her head warm until you dry her head.
    When very young, your baby has a very large head compared to the rest of her body. The evaporation of bath water off her head could lower her temperature and cause a cold stress response.

And Expectant FATHERS - this is for you! 
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Let’s Give Your Baby’s First Bath

Once everything is ready gently place your baby in the tub and begin to bathe her.

  1. Fill the tub with clean warm water, not too hot or too cool, before you put your baby in the basin.
  2. Start by wetting the washcloth in the clean warm water.
  3. Apply a small amount of soap to the cloth and gently rub baby down with the cloth.
  4. Focus especially on the following areas because they tend to get the dirtiest in babies:
    • In her neck area where milk tends to drip during a feed and where sweat tends to accumulate.
    • Her underarms.
    • The diaper area and  the cleft between her buttocks.
    • Your baby’s back. She lies on her back a lot and sweat accumulates there.
  5. Pick her up and rest her body, face-down, on your forearm, with her head turned to one side and cradled gently in your hand as you clean her back.
  6. After washing your baby with the soapy cloth, rinse the soap off the cloth thoroughly or use a clean one to rinse your baby off. Wet the cloth with some clean warm water and quickly rinse the soap off of your baby’s body.
  7. To wash your baby’s hair and scalp:
    • Use organic chemical free shampoo if possible.
    • Hold your baby’s head in the palm of your hand.
    • Put a small amount of shampoo on her scalp and gently rub it in.
    • Rinse her scalp off. There are two ways you can do this:
      • Use a clean water soaked washcloth to rinse the shampoo out of her hair and scalp.
      • Take a small container, plastic cup or Tupperware and gently pour some water back over her upper forehead and scalp to rinse the shampoo off without it getting into her eyes.

Note About Fontanelle Fear

When you are washing her hair do not be afraid of the soft spot, the fontanelle, just be careful not to press too hard while you scrub.

After your baby is washed and rinsed :

  • Wrap her in the clean, dry towel.
  • Put her on a safe surface that she cannot fall off of and gently pat her dry her with the towel.
  • Talk to her as you change her, make eye contact and play little games with her as she gets older.
  • If you want to use lotion on your baby’s skin, please use paraben, phthalate free lotions that are also fragrance and dye free. Just because the bottle or tube says the lotion is hypoallergenic does not mean that it does not contain chemicals that may irritate your baby’s skin, so become a label reader.

A Note on Skin Lotions:

Organic lotions have fewer chemicals than non-organic, so use those when you can.

In fact, I recommend using products that only have a few ingredients and ingredients that you can actually read and recognize!

If you do not want to use any synthetic lotion on your baby, you may want to try using olive oil or organic coconut oil on the driest parts your baby’s skin. These are all natural and only have one ingredient. Despite this, your baby could still have a reaction to these so you want to do a skin test before using them on your baby’s skin.

While you are rubbing the lotion on your baby’s body talk to her gently, sing her a song, do a baby massage on her ,or just be completely present with your baby.

A Note on Baby Powder:

Talcum powder may contain asbestos that can cause lung cancer. There are talcum-free powders but even these can cause irritation of the lungs and breathing problems in your baby.

Since baby powder does not have any real benefits for your baby and may have  serious side effects on your baby’s breathing if they are inhaled, I recommend avoiding all powders completely (including cornstarch).


If you really want to use baby powder here are some general rules:

  • Avoid powders like cornstarch or talcum powders because your baby or you could inhale them by accident. These powders can injure the lungs.
  • Avoid powders that contain Baking soda or Boric acid because these chemicals can be absorbed through baby’s skin and cause toxic effects to baby.
  • Also avoid any powders containing Camphor, Phenol, benzocaine (a topical anesthetic) Salicylates (aspirin derivatives) or Boric Acid because these chemicals may have toxic effects on your baby and, some babies with a  genetic predisposition may develop a rare, dangerous blood problem called Methemoglobinemia if exposed to them.
  • Last but not least, put your squeaky clean baby in a clean diaper and some clean clothes and give her a big hug.


You’ve Successfully Completed Your Baby’s First Bath!!

See you back here soon, and until then … to your holistic health, 

Ask Dr. Linda

Resources on Endocrine-Disruptors


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