Skip to main content

How to Give Baby Their First Bath


Baby's first bath

By Brandi Jeter Riley, Mama Knows It All. Brandi Jeter Riley is a paid spokesperson for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS®

There are so many firsts to look forward to when you have a baby – and every baby is different, so the experiences change for parents with each one.

Even though it was eight years ago, I still remember my daughter's first bath. I placed her in a baby tub in the kitchen sink, and delicately poured warm water over her. When we first started, she was really tense. Her tiny fists were balled up, and her toes were curled under. At some point she decided that she liked it and started to relax.

My son was born in May, and he is a different kind of baby than my daughter. He's much more mellow, and isn't easily impressed by a lot of things. The bath was no exception. As my husband and I got him nice and soapy, he looked up at us with a look that said, "Are you done, yet?" He didn't cry or flinch. He didn't smile or make any noise at all. Neither the warm water nor the suds excited him.

But whether your baby is like my daughter or son, bath time can be one of the sweetest times you'll experience with your baby. A little preparation and a lot of patience will go far in making sure things go well so you can both have a pleasant bath time experience.

What You'll Need

Baby's first bath

The first bath doesn't have to be a challenging ordeal. It only really gets tough if you don't have everything you need before the bath starts. The most important thing to remember is you should never leave a baby in a tub by themselves, and you don't want to have to pick up a slippery baby to gather soap or a towel because you didn't plan ahead.  To avoid any mishaps, here is what you’ll need in preparation for bath time:

How to Bathe Your Baby

Once you've gathered everything you need for your baby's bath, it's time for the fun part, bathing them! Here’s how:

  1. Fill up the baby tub or sink with lukewarm water just enough until it will reach your baby's belly. Make sure to do this before you place the baby in the water. Turn off the water and…
  2. Place your little bundle gently in the tub, and…
  3. Commence washing! Note that this is where things got tricky for me. I needed to hold the baby with one hand while using my other hand to wash the baby with his washcloth. It takes practice, but I was able to master that skill pretty quickly.
  4. Squeeze a drop of JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Extra Moisturizing Baby Wash in the washcloth and wet it to lather. Wipe the baby down, and then lean him forward to clean his back and tush. Don't forget to get all of their little crevices like behind the ears, knees, underarms, and elbows.
  5. Finally, wet a different washcloth and use water to rinse your baby.

This may not apply to you and your little one, but my little guy has a lot of hair, so after I bathe him, he gets a proper hair washing. Here’s how I do it:

  1. I hold him in my arm (like you would a football), with his head over the sink.
  2. I rub a little bit of JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo into his scalp and massage it softly.
  3. Instead of running water directly over his head, I use my hand like a cup to rinse out the shampoo, so the water runs over the back of my hand while I rub his scalp and hair with my fingers.

When we're all done, I wrap him quickly in a hooded towel and take him to his changing table to lather him in lotion and dress him. The entire process takes about 15 minutes total.

Baby's first bath

If you’re a new mom, here's a bonus tip for you! I had help with both babies the first few times I gave them a bath because I just didn't trust myself. I also wanted someone with me to take pictures of this sweet first moment. Before you know it, your little one will be taking baths on their own, so take your time to enjoy these new experiences. They go by so fast!

Brandi Jeter Riley is a paid spokesperson for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS®

What to pack in your diaper bag

What’s In My Diaper Bag? Essential Items Moms Should Always Pack

Brandi Jeter Riley shares an inside look at what she keeps in her baby bag when she’s on the go.

How to handle a temper tantrum

4 Tips for Disarming a Toddler Tantrum

From our partners at EverydayFamily, learn how to help your little ones get over their meltdowns.

How much sleep do adults need?

How Much Sleep do Adults Really Need?

You might already know the answer, but do you know why?

Causes of thinning hair in women

10 Causes of Thinning Hair in Women

Some of the causes of thinning hair are genetic, but finding more strands than usual on your brush might be a sign of a health problem.