Clean up With a Newborn Sponge Bath

Your newborn baby may not be playing in the yard just yet, but he still needs an occasional bath -- especially after lots of messy spit-up or a dirty diaper. Grab a sponge or washcloth for an easy way to keep your baby clean.

Start with a sponge bath
Experts recommend sponge baths for babies whose umbilical cord stumps have not yet fallen off, which could take up to three weeks. They’re also a great option for boys who haven’t fully healed from circumcision. Don’t bathe your baby every day, though -- daily baths could dry out his delicate baby skin. Stick to three times a week until your baby is 1 year old.

Five simple steps to success
The time of your baby’s sponge bath is up to you. Some moms prefer mornings, when babies are usually alert and raring to go. Other moms choose evenings, as part of a calming bedtime ritual. No matter what time you prefer, these easy steps will help you create the perfect baby bath experience.

1. Get set up. Gather everything you’ll need before you start. Many parents find it easiest to place their baby in a towel-lined infant tub, but you could lay a towel on just about any flat, comfortable surface -- a changing table, bed, floor, or counter next to the sink. Grab a change of clothes, a clean diaper, a couple of washcloths, another big towel, a mild baby soap, and a bowl or cup of warm -- not hot -- water. (Test it with your inner wrist.)

2. Keep him cozy. Make sure the room is warm before undressing your baby. Plan to drape a warm, wet washcloth over the parts of your baby you’re not cleaning at the moment so he stays comfortable.

3. Start at the top. Use soft strokes when cleaning your baby’s skin. Start with his face and head, using a washcloth without soap so you don’t get any suds in his eyes or mouth. Pay special attention to cleaning under his chin and neck. The spaces between fingers and toes, under the arms, and behind the ears also get surprisingly dirty. Clean carefully around the umbilical stump, making sure to keep it dry. If you accidentally get it wet, gently pat it dry with a soft towel. Clean the diaper area last and always keep your baby’s head and neck supported!

4. Protect to heal. If your son has been circumcised, wash his penis gently with only water until it heals, usually about a week to 10 days after the surgery. If he’s not circumcised, don’t retract the foreskin to clean under it -- just wash as you would other parts of his body.

5. Wrap it up. Finish off by drying your baby with a hooded towel, putting on a fresh diaper and giving him a kiss on his clean, soft belly. All done!