How to Sponge bath a Newborn baby

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 31, 2011

How to Sponge bath a Newborn babyBathing a newborn can be a challenging job for most parents. Some infants may cry continuously throughout bath time,  exacerbating the procedure for parents. Since handling a wriggly and slippery newborn during bathing may require practice, sponge bathing is a safe proposition. In fact, most doctors recommend a sponge bath for newborns as it is the safest and easiest way to keep them clean and fresh.

Newborn baby sponge baths are highly recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics, especially during the initial weeks, until the umbilical area has properly healed. Sponge bathing is also suitable for premature babies as their skin may be sensitive to tolerate water splashes. The below guidelines can help new mothers sponge bath their newborn baby:


  • Lay your baby in a cot or on a cushioned surface. You can place some pads or soft wash towels underneath to provide extra comfort. Remove the clothing and the diapers and cover the body with a light soft towel.
  • Take a cotton ball moistened with water and clean his eyes carefully. Take another cotton ball and clean the inside of his nose. Similarly, with fresh moistened cotton balls, clean his cheeks, forehead and behind his ears. 
  • In a tub of tepid water, dip a soft wash cloth and squeeze out excess water. Gently rub the cloth on the baby’s head to remove the cradle cap. This will not go in one day, but after a few sponging sessions, it will start falling off slowly. You can then use a soft baby brush to remove the cradle cap completely. Then wipe off the water from his head with a dry soft towel.
  • With a wet wash-cloth, clean the neck, skin folds, genitals and the diaper areas slowly. Then wash the arms, legs, folds of fingers and toes, hands and feet clean. Wipe the wet areas gently with a dry towel.
  • After final washing, place the baby in a big soft towel and dry off the residual water from the body.
  • Clean the umbilical cord carefully by using a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply baby lotion all over the body, hands and feet barring eyes, mouth and ears.
  • To wrap up the sponge bathing process, put on fresh diapers and clothing on him.

A sponge bath for newborns is ideal as it prevents the chances of catching a cold considerably. Also, since the area around the umbilical cord is prone to infection, it is important to avoid water seepage into that area. Newborns do not usually get very dirty so a daily sponge bath is sufficient to keep them clean. During a sponge bath, it is recommended to cover the upper part of the baby’s body with a cloth while washing the bottom and vice versa. The baby’s wash towels must be regularly disinfected to avoid any skin rash.


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