8 Bath Time Tips For Preemie Babies

Wondering when, where, and how to bathe your preemie? You’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’re sharing 8 tips for preemie bath time as well as why beb organic is our favorite NICU-approved personal care brand for babies.

Premature baby about to have a bath

Giving your baby their first bath can be nerve-racking, especially if they’re a preemie.

Most parents tend to worry about things like the water temperature, supporting little necks and keeping soapy water out of eyes and noses.

But what about the products you’re using to wash your baby? What about the frequency? Believe it or not, these things are JUST as important as the above.

In this article, we’ll share:

  • Tips for bathing preemie babies
  • The importance of choosing clean bath time products for your baby
  • Ingredients to avoid in infant bath time products
  • Our favorite preemie bath time product picks

Scroll down to learn more!


Tips for bathing preemie babies


#1 Don’t bathe too soon or too frequently


Due to the fact that all babies, especially preemies, have super sensitive skin, you need to take a less is more approach when it comes to bathing. Too much exposure to water and soap can leave baby skin feeling dry or prone to fungal infections. (Also, those first precious 24 hours should be spent bonding and breastfeeding where possible.)

In fact, many health professionals suggest waiting a week or more for Baby’s First Bath due to the powerful properties of your vernix.


What is Vernix and why is it so important:

Vernix is a white and greasy coating that protects your baby’s skin from infection, wrinkles and becoming chapped while in the womb. The benefits of vernix after birth are just as important because your baby’s skin is still adjusting to the outside world.

If you’re concerned about amniotic fluid and blood being on your baby, simply use a damp cloth to gently wipe them. The only exception for not delaying your baby’s first bath is if they’re covered in their first poop known as Meconium. This could put them at risk for infection.


When you are ready to give your preemie a bath, be mindful that they really only need one bath every two to four days.


#2 Choose your timing wisely


While most infants love the soothing feeling of bathtime, if you try to bathe them when they’re hungry or overly full, it won’t be enjoyable for either of you. We suggest giving them a bath after they’ve woken from a nap.


#3 Have your products and supplies ready to go


The last thing you want to do when you have your baby in the bath is have to go find a towel. It’s always a good idea to set up your bathing station. If you’re in the NICU, they’ll usually have a sink to use. If you’re home, we recommend using a small bath with a newborn support.

Wondering what products to use? Here’s our list:

  • Designated baby bath
  • Hooded towel (organic or chemical-free cotton, not synthetic)
  • 2 x washcloths (we like to use one to squeeze water onto the head, chest and arms, while the other gets dipped in warm water and draped on the tummy)
  • NICU-approved soaps and lotions

With preemies, it’s EXTRA important to make sure you’re using ingredients that are deemed safe for the NICU. Currently, the NICU-approved option we love is the beb organic Perfectly Preemie Bath Time Set.

Beb Organic Perfect Preemie Bathtime Set

The beb organic set includes:

  • Bubbly Wash – soften & refresh
  • Silky Cream – replenish & hydrate
  • Nurturing Oil – calm & smooth
  • Diaper Balm – soothe & protect
  • A booklet with tips & advice


#4 Make bathtime a bonding experience


Being enveloped in warm water feels a lot like being back in utero. (Although there’s more room to kick and move!) While your baby is enjoying this familiar sensation, take the time to speak to them. Tell them what part of their body you’re going to wash, why you’re washing it and how they’re going to feel when they’re nice and clean.

While this is important for their cognitive development, it also promotes bonding. Your baby will relax when they hear your comforting voice.



#5 Check the water, room and your baby’s temperature


Premature babies have to work extra hard to keep their body temperature up, which is why you want the bath temperature right, the room temperature right and a thermometer on hand to ensure your baby’s underarm temperature is between 97.5 and 99.3 F.

The ideal temperature for a baby bath is 98.6 F while the ideal room temperature is between 72 and 78 F.


#6 Wash top to toe


When placing your baby in the water, ensure you’re holding their neck and back securely by supporting them with the crook of your arm or your hand. With the water level at approx. shoulder height, ensure their head remains above water and their torso, legs are submerged.

Note: If you’re baby still has their umbilical cord and your doctor hasn’t given you specific instructions to keep it dry, you can feel free to let it go underwater.

After your baby has had a chance to get used to the sensation of being in the water and trusts that you’re holding them securely, focus on washing their head first, being mindful to clean under their chin. (Lots of milk can accumulate here!)

From there, clean behind the ears, underarms, in elbow and leg creases and then hands and toes. Last, you can clean the diaper area.


#7 Pat Dry Immediately & Thoroughly


Due to the fact that body heat is lost quicker through water than air, you’ll need to ensure you gently pat them dry quickly and thoroughly. We recommend laying your hooded towel out and ready to go so you can lift your baby directly onto it. (Be mindful of how slippery they can be!)

Alternatively, you can spread the towel across your chest, pick them up and then wrap them while in your arms.

As mentioned above, you’ll want to avoid any moisture in body creases that can lead to a fungal infection. Be sure to dry between toes, behind knees, in the groin area, between butt cheeks, underarms, under neck and behind ears.


#8 Hydrate that skin!


Because preemie skin can be dry, flaky, red or bumpy, we recommend using massage oil. This activity actually stimulates brain development and promotes bonding.

In the beb organic Perfectly Preemie Set, they’ve provided a NICU-safe oil as well as a detailed booklet of baby massage techniques and tips.


Beb Organic Perfect Preemie Bathtime Set



#9 Dress your baby


After massage time, dress your baby in clean, dry clothes and a hat to keep them warm.

The importance of choosing clean bath time products for your baby


At The Tot, we never use or recommend anything that hasn’t passed The Tot Test. This means we’ve looked deep into third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in-depth questions about a product’s composition to ensure it’s free of the chemicals we caution.

When it comes to a baby’s skin, we’re particularly vigilant because their skin is thinner to accommodate all that growing. This makes it easier for chemicals to absorb into their bloodstream.


Ingredients to avoid in infant bath time products


Dermatitis… asthma… endocrine disruption… Just a few of the health problems these chemicals have been linked to.

  • Synthetic fragrances such as parfum
  • Harmful preservatives like formaldehyde and anything ending in ‘paraben’
  • Harmful phthalates like butyl benzyl phthalate
  • Petrochemicals like mineral oil
  • Synthetic dyes and colorants listed as FD&C # or D&C #
  • SLS, SLES + ALS (Sulfates used as foaming agents)

Click here to read the full list of ingredients we avoid and why.



Our favorite preemie bath time product picks


TOWL Organic Hooded Baby Towel


All Tot Tested and approved, here are our favorite preemie bath time picks.


Beb Organic Perfectly Preemie Bath Time Set


While beb organic have fantastic products that can be used by both parents and baby for years, they’re constantly praised for their Perfectly Preemie Bath Time Set! With every non-GMO ingredient being top-ranked by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and 3rd party verified, you can trust it’s truly the cleanest and most hypoallergenic option.

Each product contains clinically validated, plant-based ingredients, including the founder’s own brainchild, PHYTOCURA™, which is a proven bioactive complex that targets, protects, and activates our skin’s natural healing properties.

Included in their Perfectly Preemie Bath Time Set is an 85-page printed Guide to Mindful Touch for Preemies. This booklet is packed full of massage techniques, helpful advice and more!


Beb Organic Perfect Preemie Bathtime Set


beb organic Perfectly Preemie Bath Time Set







Stokke Flexibath Tub w/ Newborn Support


The Stokke Flexibath is a baby registry favorite because it can be used from birth through toddler years and folds up to virtually nothing! Great for use in the NICU, travel or in smaller homes, it offers the comfort and support babies need for bath time.

Stokke Flexibath White


Stokke Flexibath Tub w/ Newborn Support






TOWL Organic Hooded Baby Towel – 3 Pack + Baby Wash Cloth


Made of GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, TOWL’s 3 Pack of Hooded Baby Towels + a washcloth will make baby bath time wonderfully snuggly and warm!



TOWL Organic Hooded Baby Towel

TOWL Organic Hooded Baby Towel – 3 Pack + Baby Wash Cloth






Interviews, stories, and guides on thetot.com contain information that is general in nature and should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical condition or concern or plan on trying a new diet, supplement or workout, it’s best to first consult with your physician or qualified health professional.



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