Best Newborn Bathtime Tip: The Swaddle Bath

Babies love bathtime. With the splashing, the bubbles, and the bath toys, bathtime can be a blast! But it doesn’t always start out that way. In the beginning, when your baby is a newborn and too small to enjoy the finer side of bathtime, bathing the baby can be straight-up stressful.

So, I’m sharing my favorite bathtime tip for a new baby:
The Swaddle Bath!

What: Swaddle baths are exactly what they sound like: you bathe your baby while they are swaddled. My favorite swaddles for bath time are made of light muslin cotton or bamboo. Hooded baby towels also work perfectly for this bathtime trick. 

Why: Swaddling your baby during bathtime has the same great benefits as swaddling during bedtime. It keeps the baby warm, cozy, and comfortable. Swaddling helps to soothe the baby and reduce the startle reflex, which is important since we are introducing them to lots of new sensations. Best of all, limiting the baby’s movements will help mom feel more confident while handling a slippery newborn.

Another reason I love the swaddle bath is that you can start them before the umbilical cord falls off with a sponge bath version. This makes it a great bathtime tip for even the tiniest of babies!

How: To get started, the first thing you’ll need to do is to choose a location for your bath. When it comes to setting up your swaddle bath, there are a couple of different options: a sponge bath or a true bath

Sponge bath set up: If you’re planning to sponge bathe your brand new baby, umbilical cord and all, then you’ll want to set up on a dry, flat surface, ideally with access to warm running water. I like to move the changing pad to the bathroom counter for our sponge baths. I’ve also used disposable changing pads layered on top of a soft towel on days when I’m low on energy and want a quick clean up. 

True bath set up: Once the umbilical cord falls off, you can choose to soak your little one in a few inches of warm water. For this option, you can choose the tub or the sink with a baby bath lounger for support. Whatever location you choose, just make sure that it is secure and that you feel confident handling your newborn.

(Of course, you can continue giving sponge baths between true baths, even after the cord comes off. They may be easier and more convenient for you in the early days when your baby doesn’t need much bathing and you aren’t getting much sleep.)

After you have your bath area safely set up, you’ll want to gather the supplies listed below. Being prepared is key to keeping bathtime safe and comfortable. You should never leave your baby unattended on a counter or in a bath, so make sure you have everything you need before you get started!

What you’ll need:

  • Two washcloths (one to wash with and one just in case!)
  • One towel to dry the baby off after the bath
  • Your favorite baby body wash
  • A medium bowl for the sponge bath or a large cup for the true bath
  • A swaddle, of course!

Now that you have your set up, your supplies, and a can-do attitude, you’re ready for bathtime!

Step one: Undress baby and swaddle lightly.

You do not need to tuck in the fabric tightly as you would for bedtime swaddling; instead, try folding the fabric up and over the feet, then across the body and over the arms from each side. You’ll be washing one limb at a time, so you’ll want to easily access each individual body part without too much tugging on the fabric.

Step two: Prepare the water.

For the sponge bath, you will use a medium bowl and fill with warm, soapy water. (An even easier option for the sponge bath is to use a no-rinse wash! In this case, you can skip the soapy water and use the product as directed on the packaging.) For the true bath, simply fill the tub or sink with a few inches of warm, soapy water.

Step three: Time to bathe baby!

Start with the baby’s face by dampening the washcloth with just warm water. Gently wipe the baby’s face, using a new corner of the cloth for each eye, the nose, and the mouth. Since the swaddle bath is intended to keep baby warm and cozy, I like to use my second washcloth to lightly pat baby’s face dry as soon as I’m done wiping it clean!

After you’ve cleaned that beautiful little face, you can start on the body. This time, dampen the washcloth in the warm soapy water and use it to gently cleanse the baby’s body, limb by limb. Try to unwrap just enough to get your little one clean, keeping baby as warm and snug as possible in their swaddle.

If you’re giving baby a true bath, use the cup to periodically pour warm water over the swaddle; the fabric will keep the warmth of the water and will feel like a warm hug for your little one!

Step four: You’re almost done!

Now that your baby is clean, carefully remove them from the bath and wrap them in a dry towel. You can choose to keep them swaddled at first for an easier transition out of the bath. Finish bathtime with your regular routine, which may include moisturizing or even a baby massage! 

That’s it! I hope this bathtime tip helps to make keeping your newborn clean and cozy a little less fussy and a little more fun! What bathtime tips do you have for your little one?

Chai Domingues
Chai, a Louisiana native, was born and raised in New Orleans. In the fall of 2010, she set off to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to study Organizational Development. Just a year later, she met her college sweetheart, Blake Domingues. After graduating, the two eloped in Jamaica with a beautiful garden ceremony and began their life together in the state's capital city. The couple recently decided to move to Blake's hometown of Lafayette, where he would join the Domingues family business, Ray Chevrolet. After nesting for about a year and making Lafayette feel like home, Chai was pleased to find out she was expecting! She delivered a healthy baby boy in May of 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic. Although her journey into motherhood was anything but ordinary, she is making the most of it and loving every moment!


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