The 411 on All Things Bathing Baby

We've got the scoop on the best in products, how-to, and even tips for making bathing stress-free for everyone involved!

You've brought your new baby home and things are getting back to sorts. Feeding is established, napping (for baby and hopefully you!) is happening at least semi-daily, and you're determined to get things off to a good start. And then came bath time.

While bathing baby should - and CAN - be a fun, soothing experience for everyone involved, there are a lot of variables involved, from when, to where, to what to use. The shelves are loaded with products for bathing baby and it can be a daunting experience choosing which one is right for your little one.

Parents have long turned to Johnson’s for bath time – it’s been the brand’s mission to create the gentlest baby products in the world for over 125 years, in fact. That’s a lot of babies and parents, and in that time, Johnson’s has learned a lot about what is – and isn’t – needed in creating gentle and effective baby products. There’s been a recent transformation in how they formulate their baby products and this new standard of gentle now means a simpler product that honors Johnson’s history while giving modern parents what they want. They’ve cut the amount of ingredients in their portfolio by half, and a whopping 96% of the ingredients in Johnson’s washes, lotions, and shampoos are either naturally derived or of natural origin. This change happened in part by ensuring they listened to the people who know babies best, including thousands of parents and professionals, from developmental experts, midwives, and pediatric skincare experts, to national and professional healthcare associations and fragrance experts.

Because every baby is different – even in the same family! - we turned to Johnson's and Dr. Carrie Lynde for some help with some questions from our community. Read on!

How often should I bathe my baby? I’ve heard that daily washing can be too much for baby’s delicate skin, but other sources say daily bathing should be part of our regular care routine. And is bedtime better than morning baths, or does it matter?

Bathing a baby can be the most rewarding and special time of the day for parent and baby. However, too much bathing and exposure to detergents can be damaging to the skin. It is important to choose cleansers that will not deplete the skin of its natural moisturizing factors.

For some children a daily bath is not necessary. However, when there is obvious debris on the skin, it is important to remove this with the bath without stripping the baby’s natural protective barrier. A daily bathing routine can be helpful even for children with sensitive skin.

Keep the bath limited to less than 10 minutes and ensure that the water is not too hot. Immediately after the bath, pat the baby dry and apply a moisturizer or cream from head to toe.

I personally like to bathe my children daily during the evening, as I find this is a nice part of the bedtime routine and helps babies with sleep

My 6m old baby seems to have very dry skin. The doctor says it’s not eczema and my baby has no known allergies, and that the baby lotion and bathing products we select should be gentle, natural products. What would you recommend?

It is common for babies to have dry skin and this is often exacerbated by environmental stresses, such as harsh soaps and wipes. It is important to choose gentle products that protect baby’s skin and preserve their natural moisture, as that is their protective barrier against irritation.

Cleansers made for babies have less detergents and are gentler on the skin than “natural” soaps, which can be damaging to the skin. Johnson's products include thoughtfully selected ingredients and the brand ensures that their products are as gentle as can be for baby’s sensitive skin, hair and eyes. Their hypoallergenic formulas are specially designed to be gentle and never harsh, while still cleansing. Moisturizing after bathing is also very helpful to help replenish skin’s moisture barrier and improve the look and feel of skin. There is some evidence that using a moisturizer on a regular basis in infants may reduce the incidence of eczema.

This is also a nice time for parent and baby bonding through the application of moisturizer and giving baby a massage. A massage will help you recognize and respond to your baby’s body language, and it’s the perfect way to build your special bond with baby. It can help make baby feel safe and secure and ready for sleep by using a baby lotion with a relaxing scent, such as Johnson's Bedtime Lotion to help soothe them before bed.

What is the best way to bathe my baby who cannot sit unassisted? Is there one way that works better than normal, especially as my growing little one gets too big for the plastic portable tub, we’ve used on the counter up until now?

There isn’t a lot of evidence to help answer this question. Personally, as a mother of four children – I like to bathe them in a traditional bathtub (carefully supervised) from an early age. I add several centimeters of water to the tub and proceed to bathe the child. It’s hands-on and allows for excellent bonding with baby.

Do you have some tips for ways I can make bath time more enjoyable for my baby? I want bath time to be a fun, anticipated activity each time, but between the soapy, slippery baby and my sore back from leaning over a big tub, it isn’t quite the “serene bath scene” I had envisioned while pregnant. Any advice?

Bathtime can be one of the most enjoyable parts of a baby’s day. This is a very special and important part of the daily routine of bonding between parent and child. First, one must prepare the environment. Prepare a bath by putting in 2-4 cm of warm water. It’s nice to have a special pad for your knees, so when you’re leaning over the bath, your knees won’t be sore; they sell these at many baby stores. I recommend keeping the routine similar every night. Make it fun for the baby! I like to use this as a time to sing to my baby.  Remember, at this age (6 months), a baby’s hearing is more developed than their sight. As a baby gets older, it is nice to introduce bath toys and even some waterproof, bathtime story books.

I like to start by applying a shampoo to the baby’s scalp and then body wash on the rest of my baby’s skin. I also let the baby enjoy kicking and splashing in the water. After bathing, I put the baby into a nice cozy towel. I pat the baby dry and apply moisturizer to their whole body. Then, I put on the diaper with a generous amount of barrier cream and then put the baby in a cozy pair of pajamas. Honestly, for me, the bathtime routine is one of the highlights of our day.

There are so many products available on store shelves, that when it comes to choosing a product line for my baby’s bath and skin care routine, I feel like I need a Master’s Degree in biology. When should I use which one? Does lotion come right after bathing or later in day? Should I buy one line and stick with it or can I combine different products? Does my baby need a separate shampoo and body wash? Help!

Absolutely. I know that the number of skincare choices in most stores is overwhelming. Therefore, you need to determine which brands you find trustworthy to help choose the best products for your child. Johnson's has been making baby products for many years and is often used during babies’ first bath in the hospital. I know this was true for my babies; all four of them! My husband is also a dermatologist and we have used Johnson's on all our children.

It’s easy to get confused by the vast amount of conflicting information out there – natural or not natural, will fragrance irritate my baby’s skin, etc., but I’ve always trusted Johnson's. Perhaps it’s the doctor in me, but it’s personally comforting to know that Johnson's is leading extensive  research on babies’ skin microbiome and the impact of gentle cleansers on infant skin, so who else would I trust with my own baby’s skin?

Extensive research goes into every ingredient Johnson's selects, which helps them design the best products for  baby.

You can certainly combine products from different lines, however it is often easier and more convenient to find a line of products that you love from a trusted company. Many times, you only need one cleanser for the bath — a shampoo is often combined with body wash — and this makes product selection as convenient as possible. Each of our kids has their personal favourite from Johnson's in our house.



Dr. Lynde is a dermatologist practicing in Markham, Ontario. She completed both her medical and dermatology training at the university of Toronto.  She has a general dermatology practice and enjoys treating all patients from 0-99! She enjoys traveling and is a proud mother of four children.