How to give baby bath and use baby oil: know from a dermatologist mother

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 03/10/18

"Doctor, how to give a baby bath? What should be the temperature of the water? Should I use soap or liquid cleanser? Should I use baby oil skin before or after a bath?"

Having passed this stage myself, I have researched about all of the above questions from a dermatologist point of view and summarised them in this article. Read further to know how to give a baby bath and use baby oil in 7 simple steps.


I can understand bathing your newborn baby brings anxiety of handling your delicate little darling in the right way.  There are no set of rules defined for bathing your kid, but I have created a simple regime to execute this herculean task especially for new parents. If you want to understand why your baby needs special care, we recommend you to read the article - Newborn baby care- know from a dermatologist mother.

STEP 1- Preparation for bath

Before you undress your baby, make sure you have all the stuff you need within your arms reach especially if you are alone. Keep clothes, towel, cleanser, moisturiser, etc. of your baby and make sure the temperature of the water is warm (not too hot or cold) to touch.

STEP 2- Undressing your child

Please switch off all the fans and air conditioners. If you reside in a cold climate, make sure the room is warm but not hot.

STEP 3- Oil Massage

There are a lot of controversies regarding this step. Few people believe the baby should be massaged after a bath, but most of the parents would agree that the baby is so hungry after a bath that he/she would barely give time for applying baby lotion. If you have less time, you can skip this step and massage the baby in the evening, but an infant deserves an oil massage twice a day.  

Use coconut or sunflower oil for the massage and avoid olive or mustard oil.  Do not forget to warm your hands before you touch your baby. Gentle massage for 15-30 minutes would not only keep the skin moisturised but also helps in gaining weight, improves mental well-being and relaxes your child. 

STEP 4- Bathing

You should prefer liquid cleansers specially formulated for kids over the soap because the alkaline soap can be more drying and would raise pH of the skin of your baby. Begin with wetting skin with tepid water followed by the application of the cleanser. Make sure you apply the cleanser on the folds of the neck, arm and thighs by gently pulling the skin apart. Ideally, the bath should be quick because over exposure to water would further dry the skin of your infant.

STEP 5- Towelling

Always pat dry the skin of your baby rather than rubbing. Please spend some extra time in pulling apart the folds of skin on the neck, arms and thighs followed by a gentle pat drying. Cleaning and thoroughly drying the folds is critical to avoid infections and diaper dermatitis.

STEP 6- Oiling

Water and cleansers remove all the natural moisturising factors from the skin of your baby, so you need to replenish it by applying the moisturising lotion immediately after pat drying. Choose a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic body lotion specially formulated for kids. Please note, sprinkling powder on the folds is no more recommended.

STEP 7- Dressing

Dressing your child should be done without delay. Most of the parents overdress their kids which can result in prickly heat. The general rule is, babies need one extra layer of clothes than you and also, maintain the temperature of the room so that it feels warm, neither cold nor hot.


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