A sponge bath, two to three times a week, is highly recommended for a newborn until the umbilical cord stump dries and falls off.
Giving your newborn baby a sponge bath: step-by-step
What you’ll need
- Cotton balls
- Washcloths (small and large)
- Mild baby soap or shampoo (optional)
- A cup to rinse the hair (optional)
- Warm water
- Baby towel
- Clean clothes and a diaper
Setting the temperature
The water temperature should be in between 37°C and 39°C, whereas the room where you are sponging the baby should not be colder than 24°C.
Procedure for sponge bathing
Put your baby on a towel-covered bathtub, flat padded surface, or a changing table. Undress him, leave his diaper on if he is fussy, and cover him with a towel for comfort.
Cleaning the eyes
Begin by cleaning the corner of his eyes from inside to outside with a cotton ball dipped and squeezed in warm water. Use a separate cotton ball for each eye.
Wipe the outer part and the region behind the ears with a new pair of cotton balls or a damp washcloth.
Nose and mouth
Wipe the bridge of the nose and corners of the mouth gently with a separate cotton ball.
Use a fresh, moist washcloth to clean the face and forehead. Avoid using soap, as it might get into the baby’s eyes.
Wipe his body with a separate washcloth that may also be dipped in mild baby soap if desired. Lift his chin gently and clean the creases under it well. Take proper care in cleaning the neck region where milk drools, as well as his shoulders, arms, and underarms, with particular attention to the corners of the fingers. Proceed to his chest and belly without touching the umbilical cord stump.
Umbilical cord stump
Clean gently around it with a damp cotton swab, soft towel, or a washcloth. Let the region air dry well.
Clean the legs and feet with a soap-dipped towel or washcloth and wipe between the toes.
To clean his back, turn him to a side or gently place him on his tummy.
To clean his genitals, remove the diaper. For girls, sponge the vagina region in a front-to-back direction, wiping the folds of the skin well. In the case of boys, clean the penis in a similar way.
Drying and dressing
Remove the soap well if you have applied it, dry him, and dress in a fresh diaper and a set of clean, loose-fitting clothes.
Tips for sponge bathing a newborn
- Hold your baby tightly during a sponge bath, so he does not fall.
- Fix a definite schedule sponge bathing schedule, the best time being when he is not hungry or sleepy.
- If your baby boy is uncircumcised, avoid pulling the foreskin of the penis, whereas for circumcised babies, refrain from washing or rubbing the top of the penis until healed (ten days).
- Avoid wiping away the vaginal discharge for your baby girl, if there is any.
Infant sponge bath video
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.