Rub-a-dub-dub, baby’s in the tub!  Bathing your baby can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for both you and your child – if you have what you need and know what you’re doing.  Check out these tips and product recommendations for giving your baby a bath!

Please remember that I am not a medical professional, and that you should consult your pediatrician or call 911 if you suspect something is wrong.  Always supervise your child at all times, and do not bathe them if they are not awake, calm and alert.

Secondly, I have affiliate links in this article – these are products I love and use in my home.


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Before the Umbilical Stump Falls Off

Before your child loses their stump, you still can give baby a bath, but it’s not recommended to submerge them in water.  Instead, use very warm water and a washcloth to sponge your baby off one body part at a time.  I suggest keeping their diaper on (unless they’ve had a blowout recently, in which case you need to clean them in their diaper area too) and keeping a blanket over the parts of their body you’re not washing.  I use two washcloths – one wet and one dry – and, starting from my son’s head, rinse and dry one section at a time.  I continue to talk soothingly to my baby while I do this so that he associates this as a positive thing.  And no you don’t need to use soap!  It can dry out their skin. Bathe your newborn once every 2-5 days, and don’t use lotion yet either – not safe until they’re over two weeks old.

Cleaning the Umbilical Cord Stump

I have to say, this is one of the weirdest and grossest things I’ve ever witnessed.  Rest assured that there are no nerve endings in the stump, but that it can take up to two weeks to fall off and will bleed a little bit.  Do not try to pull it off, twist it, or do anything else to speed up the process.  This can cause scarring! With my second child, we did nothing except use warm water to clean the bit of blood that she got around the stump; otherwise, we left it alone and it fell off on its own just fine. With our firstborn, we were told to clean it:

Keep Q-tips and rubbing alcohol on hand, as this will help it dry up faster.  Every time you do a diaper change, saturate the Q-tip and clean around the stump, within the belly button.  You can also use cotton balls and squeeze the excess rubbing alcohol on the spot. No need to get the stump itself, but do try to get the alcohol inside the belly button (not on the skin on the outside/on the stomach itself).  If there’s any dried blood, you can gently remove that too with the saturated Q-tip.  If you see pus or lots of blood, tell your pediatrician immediately.

Be sure to keep the stump aired out – fold diapers down so that they don’t touch it, and don’t dress your baby in anything that’s tight around the waist.  The stump should fall out, little by little, by the time your baby is two weeks old.

Time For A Real Bath!

After the stump has fallen out and your pediatrician determines that the belly button has healed properly, you can start to give your baby a “real” bath!  We have the Fisher Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub and love it – it has a piece to help your baby sit in it when smaller, and the piece can be removed as your baby grows taller.  A super useful bath time tool is a large washcloth – you keep it wet and lay it over your child so they don’t get cold.  Another necessity is the Aquatopia Safety Audible Bath Thermometer and Alarm, which will automatically beep if the water is too hot or too cold (so put it in the water before baby!).

Keep diapers and towels handy so you can quickly prepare baby post-bath.  Again, I use one wet washcloth and one dry one, and work from Baby’s head down.  Hooded towels are another great thing to have, although not necessary – they look huge, but allow you to completely wrap up your sweet-smelling munchkin and dry them effectively.

Have other ideas?  Found a bath product you love?  Let me know by leaving a comment!