Learn how to care for your newborn's skin and subsequently protect them from discomfort, rashes, skin diseases, and more.

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Baby's Back
Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

It's true: Babies don't come with manuals. So, if you have a newborn on your hands and are wondering where to start when it comes to taking care of their grooming needs, you're certainly not alone.

Fortunately, there are some simple basics that are easy enough to master in due time. Here, what to know when it comes to bathing, diapering, picking out products (because there is a lot of 'em!), and more.

Bath Time 101

Babies need two to three baths a week in warm—not hot—water to stay clean. The first step to a great baby bath is to find the perfect temperature and then fill the bathtub with no more than 2 to 3 inches of water. To prevent your baby from getting cold while you bathe them, regularly pour cupfuls of water over their shoulders.

Dip a washcloth in soapy water and use it to gently wash your baby's scalp with baby shampoo, too. To clean their face, moisten a cotton ball and gently dab.

To lift your baby out of the tub, place one hand on their neck to support their head and the other supporting their bottom, with your fingers around one thigh. Wrap them in a hooded towel. Once dry, apply baby lotion immediately to seal in moisture and prevent dry skin.

Diapering Basics

There are a lot of things you'll have to do for your little one when they're an infant, including—yep—changing lots and lots of diapers. It's important to change your child's diaper frequently, wiping gently but thoroughly each time with baby wipes.

Then? Dab diaper cream or put warm water from a squirt bottle on your baby's bottom and gently pat them dry. Wait a few moments to air-dry so that moisture doesn't lead to an irritating diaper rash.

Also: Make sure to purchase fragrance-free diapers in a size that doesn't fit too snugly and cause chafing.

Be Mindful of Products

It's best to use skin care products made specifically for babies, such as fragrance-free and tear-free shampoos, bath gels, and lotions. With each one you use, be watchful of your child's reaction in case they are allergic.

It's important to keep your newborn's skin moisturized, too, so always have a supply of lotions around. Ointments, which have a thicker consistency, are even better at keeping your little one's skin soft.

Avoid perfumed, antibacterial, and deodorant soaps, too—they might be too harsh until your child is a toddler. Baby soaps are best for your little one.

Watch Out for the Weather

In general, babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). But you can apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on small areas of the body, such as the face, for babies younger than 6 months and all over for older babies.

With underdeveloped sweat glands, babies are also very susceptible to heat rash. To prevent this, dress them in loose clothing and a hat to shield the sun.

In the winter, dry weather can harm your baby's skin, so consider a cool-mist humidifier in your nursery to keep the air moist. Just be sure to clean the humidifier regularly or it could develop mold. Also, give your baby lots of water to stay hydrated during the cold, dry months.

As for dressing your little one? It's a good idea to dress your baby in layers year-round so you can easily change them into the proper clothing to shield them from the sunlight, heat, or cold. But skip fragranced laundry detergent that might irritate sensitive skin.

American Baby