From the very first wipedown to the nightly bath, Ari Brown, M.D., founder of 411 Pediatrics and the author of Expecting 411, Baby 411, and Toddler 411, explains what you may be doing wrong.

By Erika Janes
June 10, 2016

Even if you took a newborn care class at your hospital while you were pregnant, caring for and cleaning that delicate baby skin is different when it’s your very own sweet, squirmy babe in the bath! Ari Brown, M.D., a Parents advisor, founder of 411 Pediatrics and the author of Expecting 411, Baby 411, and Toddler 411, fields plenty of baby-cleaning questions from nervous new parents. Below, common mistakes you might be making…

1. You bathe Baby too soon. Vernix—that creamy, waxy white stuff—may look gross, but it's actually good for your baby’s skin! "Vernix does offer some protection for the first few hours after birth," Dr. Brown says. So don’t rush to clean it off: delay that first bath for 6 hours.

2. You bathe Baby too often.

Yes, creating a nighttime routine is important, but when it comes to bathing your baby, nightly really isn’t necessary: Once or twice a week is fine. But as Dr. Brown points out, a diaper blowout obviously deserves a bath!

3. You use too many products.

Keep it simple: Just use a moisturizing, perfume- and dye-free cleanser.

4. You make Baby’s bath too hot (or cold!).

Like Goldilocks, make sure the temperature of your baby's bath water is juusst right: about 100 degrees fahrenheit. "And make sure your hot water heater is set to less than 120 degrees fahrenheit," says Dr. Brown.

5. Your fear the belly button stump.

As any experienced parent can attest, you wait (and wait!) for that belly-button stump to dry up and fall off, and treat it ever-so-gently until it does. According to Dr. Brown, the best thing to do is to ignore the dried-out part (after all, that really doesn't need cleaning!), and look at the skin underneath. If it’s gooey or oozing, wipe it gently with rubbing alcohol or plain water on a gauze pad.

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Comments (4)

Anonymous
May 7, 2019
Erika, why do you phrase this article (and Parents magazine phrases many articles like this) in a way that criticizes parents before they even read the article? Why can’t you suggest ways people can clean their babies well? If we learn anything as parents it’s that there is no right and wrong and people who only criticize you are not worth listening to. Be a positive writer and a positive magazine that helps us. Parents don’t need any more criticism in their lives—especially when they are reading parenting articles because they care about their children!
Anonymous
That's an excellent point. Thank you for your comment.
smo4068432
December 4, 2018
Quick tip for all you parents all out there: My baby never slept well (especially through the night) until I started using the website >>>>SleepBaby .org<<<< - that website has been by far one of the best things I've ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly. Best time is 45 seconds from awake to asleep! I heard about it through a kindergarten teacher who uses it to put to sleep a group of 30 children. Check it out! Sorry, you can't post links here so you'll have to turn it into a normal link. >>SleepBaby .org<< Best of luck to you and your family! :)
Anonymous
December 2, 2018
Quick tip for all you parents all out there: My baby never slept well (especially through the night) until I started using the website >>>>SleepBaby .org<<<< - that website has been by far one of the best things I've ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly. Best time is 45 seconds from awake to asleep! I heard about it through a kindergarten teacher who uses it to put to sleep a group of 30 children. Check it out! Sorry, you can't post links here so you'll have to turn it into a normal link. >>SleepBaby .org<< Best of luck to you and your family! :)