Bathing with an umbilical cord

By Tracie Newman, MD Apr 18, 2017


Generally speaking, newborn babies do not need frequent bathing. You are already cleansing the dirty parts (mouths, diaper areas) multiple times per day. Bathing a newborn every two to three days is adequate. Bathing too often can contribute to dry skin and irritation in your baby. Mild, hypoallergenic and fragrance free soaps and lotions are recommended.

Sponge baths are recommended during the first few weeks of life or until the belly button stump falls off and this area fully heals. Your baby’s nurse can show you how to do this before you head home with baby. You will want to lay baby on a comfortable flat surface and always keep one hand on your baby. I recommend keeping your baby wrapped in a towel or fluffy blanket and only exposing the area of the body you will be cleaning. Have a basin or warm, soapy water next to you and baby. Apply a damp washcloth to water then baby. Cleanse head to toe, washing diaper area last. Don’t forget neck rolls, under the arms, and between thigh folds. Always clean little girls from front to back.

One final tip: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends checking your home water heater. It should be set at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is comfortably warm for most people and helps prevent accidental scalding burns.