What to Wash First on a Baby: A Comprehensive Guide to Baby Hygiene

Baby hygiene is an essential aspect of taking care of a newborn. The first few months of a baby’s life are critical for their development, and proper hygiene is crucial to keep them healthy. One of the most common questions that new parents ask is, “What do you wash first on a baby?” This guide provides a comprehensive answer to that question and offers tips on how to maintain good hygiene for your little one.

Understanding Baby Hygiene

The Importance of Baby Hygiene

  • Preventing Infections
    Baby’s immune system is still developing, and they are more susceptible to infections. Proper hygiene can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, such as diaper rash, thrush, and even meningitis. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of a baby’s items, such as toys, bottles, and pacifiers, can significantly reduce the risk of infection.
  • Promoting Healthy Skin
    Baby’s skin is delicate and can be easily irritated. Keeping the baby clean and dry, avoiding harsh soaps and detergents, and using fragrance-free lotions and creams can help prevent dryness, rashes, and other skin problems. Proper hygiene can also help to maintain healthy skin barrier function, which is essential for preventing eczema and other skin conditions.
  • Building Good Habits Early On
    Good hygiene habits start early, and it’s important to establish a routine that the baby will feel comfortable with. This includes washing their hands before and after meals, after using the bathroom, and after touching their face or nose. By instilling good hygiene habits early on, the baby will be more likely to continue these practices throughout their life, reducing the risk of illness and infection.

Baby Hygiene Basics

When it comes to baby hygiene, there are three main areas that need special attention: bathing, diaper changing, and feeding. In this section, we will explore each of these areas in more detail.


Bathing is an important part of baby hygiene, as it helps to keep your baby clean and healthy. However, it’s important to be careful when bathing your baby, as water can be very warm or cold, and it can be easy for your baby to slip and fall.

Here are some tips for bathing your baby:

  • Use warm water, rather than hot water, as hot water can cause your baby’s skin to become dry and irritated.
  • Use a mild soap, such as a baby soap or a soap-free cleanser, to gently cleanse your baby’s skin.
  • Avoid using bubble bath or other products that contain dyes or fragrances, as these can be irritating to your baby’s skin.
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently wash your baby’s skin, avoiding the eyes and ears.
  • Rinse your baby thoroughly with warm water, making sure to get all the soap out of their eyes and ears.
  • Pat your baby dry with a soft towel, and avoid rubbing them too hard, as this can be irritating to their skin.

Diaper Changing

Diaper changing is another important part of baby hygiene, as it helps to keep your baby’s bottom clean and healthy. However, it’s important to be careful when changing your baby’s diaper, as their skin is very sensitive and can be easily irritated.

Here are some tips for changing your baby’s diaper:

  • Use a clean diaper every time you change your baby’s diaper.
  • Clean your baby’s bottom gently with a soft, damp cloth or disposable wipes.
  • Avoid using harsh soaps or cleaners, as these can be irritating to your baby’s skin.
  • If your baby has a rash or other skin condition, consult with your pediatrician before using any products to clean their bottom.
  • Dispose of dirty diapers properly, and avoid flushing them down the toilet, as this can clog the pipes.


Feeding is another important part of baby hygiene, as it helps to provide your baby with the nutrients they need to grow and develop. However, it’s important to be careful when feeding your baby, as some foods can be choking hazards or cause allergic reactions.

Here are some tips for feeding your baby:

  • Start with small amounts of food, and gradually increase the amount as your baby grows and develops.
  • Avoid giving your baby foods that are too hard, too soft, or too sweet, as these can be choking hazards or cause dental problems.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, make sure to wash your hands before and after feeding your baby, and avoid exposing your baby to any medications or chemicals that could be harmful.
  • If you’re bottle-feeding, make sure to wash your hands before and after feeding your baby, and avoid using a microwave to heat up bottles, as this can cause the milk to become too hot and damage your baby’s mouth and throat.

Newborn Baby Hygiene

Key takeaway: Proper hygiene is essential for preventing infections and promoting healthy skin in babies. Bathing, diaper changing, and feeding are the three main areas that require special attention. It is important to follow proper hygiene practices and seek medical attention if there are signs of infection. Establishing a consistent hygiene routine early on can help build good habits for life.

Cleaning the Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is a vital part of a newborn baby’s body, and it is essential to keep it clean and healthy. The cord provides the baby with essential nutrients and oxygen while in the womb, and it plays a crucial role in the baby’s development.

How to Clean the Cord

Cleaning the umbilical cord is a simple process that can be done at home. The first step is to clean the area around the cord with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or soaps, as they can irritate the baby’s skin. Instead, use a mild soap and warm water to clean the area.

After cleaning the area, gently insert a clean, damp cloth into the diaper area to clean the cord. Make sure to pat the area dry with a clean cloth.

It is important to keep the cord clean and dry to prevent infection. Parents should also check the cord daily for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or foul-smelling discharge.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While cleaning the umbilical cord is generally safe, there are times when parents should seek medical attention. If the cord is bleeding or has a foul-smelling discharge, parents should contact their doctor immediately. These symptoms could indicate an infection, which requires prompt medical attention.

In addition, if the cord is not healing properly or if the baby is showing signs of discomfort, such as crying when the cord is touched, parents should also seek medical attention. A doctor can diagnose any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatment.

Overall, keeping the umbilical cord clean and healthy is an essential part of newborn baby hygiene. By following these simple steps, parents can help prevent infection and ensure their baby’s health and well-being.

Bathing a Newborn

When it comes to bathing a newborn, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both the baby and the parents.

  • Frequency: Newborns do not need to be bathed every day. In fact, it is recommended to bathe them no more than once a week. This is because their skin is delicate and can easily become dry and irritated.
  • Temperature: The water should be warm, but not hot. A temperature of around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  • Products to Use: When it comes to baby bath products, less is more. Simple, fragrance-free soap and water is usually sufficient. Parents should avoid using bubble bath, shampoo, or any other products that contain fragrances or dyes, as these can be irritating to a baby’s sensitive skin.

It is also important to be very careful when bathing a newborn, as they can easily slip and fall. Parents should make sure to support the baby’s head and neck, and avoid submerging the baby underwater. Additionally, parents should avoid using any bath toys or other objects that could potentially harm the baby.

Overall, bathing a newborn can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure the baby’s safety and comfort.

Diapering a Newborn

When it comes to caring for a newborn baby, one of the most important tasks is diapering. Proper diapering can help prevent diaper rash and keep your baby’s genital area clean and healthy. Here’s a detailed guide on how to diaper a newborn.

Types of Diapers

There are several types of diapers available in the market, each with its own set of features. Some of the most common types of diapers include:

  • Disposable diapers: These are the most commonly used diapers. They are convenient and easy to use, and they come in various sizes to fit your baby’s weight and age.
  • Cloth diapers: These diapers are made of absorbent materials like cotton or hemp. They can be washed and reused, making them an eco-friendly option.
  • Hybrid diapers: These diapers combine the convenience of disposable diapers with the environmental benefits of cloth diapers. They have a waterproof outer layer and a absorbent inner layer that can be washed and reused.

How to Change a Diaper

Changing a diaper can be a messy task, but it’s an essential part of baby care. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change a diaper:

  1. Gather all the necessary supplies, including a clean diaper, wipes, and any other necessary items.
  2. Undo the fasteners on the diaper and pull it down to your baby’s feet.
  3. Clean your baby’s genital area with warm water and a soft cloth or disposable wipe.
  4. Dispose of the dirty diaper and wipe your baby clean.
  5. Apply a fresh diaper and fasten it securely.

Dealing with Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is a common problem that can occur when a baby’s skin is constantly exposed to urine and feces. Here are some tips on how to deal with diaper rash:

  1. Keep the diaper area clean and dry.
  2. Avoid using soap or other harsh products on your baby’s genital area.
  3. Use a diaper cream or ointment to protect your baby’s skin.
  4. Change your baby’s diaper frequently, at least every two to three hours.
  5. If the rash persists, consult your pediatrician for further advice.

Older Baby Hygiene

Bathing an Older Baby

As babies grow older, they need more frequent baths to keep them clean and healthy. Here are some guidelines for bathing an older baby:

  • Frequency: Older babies should have a bath at least once a week, but if they are prone to diaper rash or other skin irritations, they may need to be bathed more frequently.
  • Water Temperature: The water should be warm, but not too hot. A good rule of thumb is to test the water by placing your wrist in it and making sure it feels comfortable.
  • Soap and Shampoo: It is important to use a mild soap or shampoo that is designed for babies. Avoid using bubble bath or other products that contain dyes or fragrances, as these can be irritating to a baby’s sensitive skin.

It is also important to make sure the baby is thoroughly rinsed and all soap and shampoo are removed from their skin and hair. This can be done by gently massaging the soap into a lather and then rinsing it off thoroughly with warm water.

Diapering an Older Baby

As a baby grows older, they will begin to show signs of readiness for potty training. It is important to start the process of potty training when the baby is ready, as it can help prevent future hygiene issues. The following are some tips for potty training an older baby:

  • Start by observing your baby’s behavior and trying to identify when they need to go to the bathroom.
  • Gradually introduce the concept of using the potty by showing them how it works and explaining what it is for.
  • Encourage your baby to use the potty by offering small rewards or incentives for each successful attempt.
  • Be patient and consistent with the process, as it may take some time for your baby to get the hang of using the potty.

In addition to potty training, it is also important to know how to deal with accidents that may occur. Here are some tips for dealing with accidents:

  • Stay calm and patient, as accidents are a normal part of the potty training process.
  • Clean up the accident as soon as possible to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Use a diaper wipe or baby wipe to clean up the area, and dispose of the wipe in the toilet.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning up the accident.

It is important to remember that every baby is different and will progress at their own pace. With patience and consistency, you can help your older baby develop good hygiene habits that will serve them well throughout their life.

Feeding an Older Baby

When it comes to feeding an older baby, there are several important considerations to keep in mind to ensure that your baby stays healthy and happy. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Cleaning Feeding Utensils: Before feeding your baby, it’s important to clean all feeding utensils thoroughly with soap and warm water. This includes bottles, nipples, and any other equipment that will come into contact with your baby’s food. It’s also a good idea to sterilize bottles and nipples before using them for the first time.
  • Preparing Solid Foods: As your baby grows and develops, they will begin to transition from breast milk or formula to solid foods. When preparing solid foods for your baby, it’s important to follow safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illness. This includes washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling food, storing food safely, and cooking food to the proper temperature.

It’s also important to introduce a variety of foods to your baby’s diet to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need. Some good options for older babies include pureed fruits and vegetables, mashed up cooked meats, and soft, cooked grains.

In addition to following these guidelines, it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues when it comes to feeding. If your baby seems full or uninterested in eating, it’s okay to stop feeding them and try again later. It’s also important to avoid using feeding as a way to soothe your baby, as this can lead to problems with feeding and sleeping later on.

Establishing a Baby Hygiene Routine

Setting a Schedule

When it comes to establishing a hygiene routine for your baby, setting a schedule is key. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Newborns (0-6 months): bathing 2-3 times a week
  • Infants (6-12 months): bathing 3-4 times a week
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): bathing 3-5 times a week


  • Newborns (0-6 months): changing diapers 8-10 times a day
  • Infants (6-12 months): changing diapers 6-8 times a day
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): changing diapers 5-6 times a day

  • Newborns (0-6 months): feeding every 2-3 hours

  • Infants (6-12 months): feeding every 3-4 hours
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): feeding every 4-5 hours

By setting a consistent schedule for bathing, diapering, and feeding, you can help ensure that your baby is getting the proper care and attention they need to stay healthy and clean. It’s also important to be flexible and adjust the schedule as needed based on your baby’s individual needs and routines.

Making it Fun

As a parent, it is important to establish a baby hygiene routine early on to ensure that your little one develops good habits from the start. However, this can be a challenge, especially for young children who may find bath time to be a chore. One way to make bath time more enjoyable for your baby is to incorporate fun elements into the routine. Here are some ideas:

  • Singing Songs: Singing songs during bath time can help to create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. It can also distract your baby from any discomfort they may feel during the washing process. Some popular bath time songs for babies include “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.”
  • Using Toys: Incorporating toys into the bath time routine can help to keep your baby entertained and engaged. Toys such as rubber ducks, bath sponges, and washcloths can all be used to make bath time more fun. You can also try using toys that make bubbles, which can add an extra element of excitement for your little one.
  • Involving Older Siblings: If you have older children, involving them in the bath time routine can help to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Older siblings can help to bathe their younger sibling, using toys and playing games in the bath. This can also help to foster a sense of responsibility and caring in older children.

Overall, incorporating fun elements into your baby’s hygiene routine can help to make bath time a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. By making bath time a positive experience, you can help to establish good habits that will last a lifetime.

Keeping Things Clean

Cleaning toys is an essential part of keeping things clean for a baby. Toys can harbor bacteria and germs, which can cause illness in babies. It is important to wash toys regularly, especially if they have been in contact with a baby’s mouth or nose. The best way to clean toys is to use warm water and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can be harmful to babies.

Cleaning clothes is also an important part of keeping things clean for a baby. Babies tend to drool and spit up, which can make their clothes dirty quickly. It is important to wash clothes regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and germs. When washing clothes, use a mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, as they can be harmful to babies.

Keeping the home clean is also crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for a baby. Babies are more susceptible to illnesses, and a dirty home can harbor harmful bacteria and germs. It is important to clean the home regularly, paying special attention to high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. Use a mild cleaning solution and warm water to clean surfaces, and avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach.

Overall, keeping things clean is an essential part of maintaining a healthy environment for a baby. By regularly cleaning toys, clothes, and the home, parents can help prevent the spread of illnesses and create a safe and healthy environment for their baby.

Staying Safe

Baby’s delicate skin and developing immune system require extra care when it comes to keeping them safe and healthy. To ensure that your baby stays safe while you’re establishing a hygiene routine, there are several key areas to focus on:

  • Bathwater Safety: Bathwater should be warm, not hot, to prevent overheating, which can cause irritability, dry skin, and even seizures. Test the water temperature before placing your baby in the bath by placing your wrist in the water for a few seconds. The water should be lukewarm, around 97-100°F (36-38°C). Keep an eye on your baby at all times during the bath, and never leave them unattended. Use a bath thermometer to monitor the water temperature and ensure it stays within the safe range.
  • Product Safety: Use only products specifically designed for babies, and always follow the instructions on the packaging. Avoid using adult products, such as shampoo or soap, on your baby’s delicate skin, as they can irritate it. Choose products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and free from harsh chemicals. When using products, always test a small area of your baby’s skin first to ensure they don’t have an adverse reaction.
  • Babyproofing Your Home: To keep your baby safe while establishing a hygiene routine, it’s essential to babyproof your home. This includes placing safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, securing electrical cords, and covering sharp edges on furniture. It’s also important to keep harmful items, such as cleaning supplies and medications, out of reach.

By following these safety guidelines, you can ensure that your baby stays safe while you establish a hygiene routine that promotes healthy growth and development.


Parents and caregivers need to have access to reliable resources to ensure the best possible hygiene practices for babies. There are various resources available, including books, websites, and baby hygiene product recommendations. It is also essential to seek professional advice from pediatricians or certified childcare providers.

Books and Websites

Books and websites can provide valuable information on baby hygiene, including tips on how to establish a routine, what products to use, and when to wash specific body parts. Some recommended books on baby hygiene include “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears and “Babywise” by Bob Campbell. Websites such as BabyCenter and What to Expect provide comprehensive guides on baby hygiene and offer helpful advice for parents and caregivers.

Baby Hygiene Product Recommendations

Choosing the right baby hygiene products is crucial for maintaining good hygiene. Parents and caregivers should look for products that are gentle on the baby’s skin, hypoallergenic, and free from harmful chemicals. Some recommended baby hygiene products include fragrance-free baby soap, water-based lotion, and natural baby shampoo. It is important to read the labels carefully and avoid products that contain harsh ingredients.

Seeking Professional Advice

Seeking professional advice from pediatricians or certified childcare providers is crucial for establishing a proper baby hygiene routine. These professionals can provide guidance on how to care for a baby’s skin, how often to wash specific body parts, and what products to use. They can also answer any questions or concerns parents and caregivers may have about baby hygiene.


1. What is the most important thing to wash first on a baby?


The most important thing to wash first on a baby is their face. This is because a baby’s face is delicate and can easily become dirty, which can lead to irritation and other problems. It is important to gently cleanse a baby’s face with warm water and a soft cloth, avoiding the eyes and nose.

2. What order should I wash a baby in?

When washing a baby, it is recommended to follow a specific order to ensure that all areas are properly cleaned. This typically includes washing the face, then moving on to the hands and feet, followed by the torso, and finally the bottom. It is important to use warm water and a gentle, fragrance-free soap, and to rinse thoroughly after each wash.

3. How often should I wash a newborn baby?

Newborn babies should be washed once a week or as needed. It is important to be gentle when washing a newborn, as their skin is delicate and can easily become irritated. A gentle, fragrance-free soap should be used, and the baby should be thoroughly rinsed with warm water. It is also important to pat the baby dry with a soft towel to avoid irritating their sensitive skin.

4. How do I wash a baby’s hair?

Washing a baby’s hair is similar to washing an adult’s hair. It is important to use a gentle, fragrance-free shampoo and to rinse thoroughly with warm water. A soft cloth or a baby hair brush can be used to gently work the shampoo into the baby’s hair, and the baby should be rinsed thoroughly to remove all soap. It is also important to avoid getting water in the baby’s eyes or ears.

5. Can I use baby shampoo on an adult?

Baby shampoo is designed to be gentle and fragrance-free, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin. However, it is not specifically formulated for adults and may not provide the same level of cleansing as an adult shampoo. It is generally recommended to use an adult shampoo, but if you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider using a gentle, fragrance-free baby shampoo.


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