University of Illinois Extension
a guide to the business of babysitting
 

Bathing

You will only want to give baths to children when parents ask you to do it. You may want to ask the parents to let you come and see how they do it before babysitting their children. Make sure you know where they keep all of the bath supplies.

When bathing a baby, you will want to follow these simple steps:

  • Put the baby in a safe place while you gather everything you need.
  • Use your elbow to test the bath water before putting the baby in. The water should feel lukewarm, not hot. Babies can be badly burned if the water is too hot. You will only need four or five inches of water in the tub.
  • Smile and talk to the baby while you undress him. Support his head and shoulders if he can't sit up yet. Slowly lower him into the water. Place him into a bath safety seat if he can sit up. Never let go—always keep one hand on the baby. Continue talking and smiling.
  • Use your free hand to gently soap the baby. Use a small amount of soap.
  • Don't put soap on his head or face. Just use a damp cloth to wash his face.
  • Rinse the soap off the rest of his body.
  • Carefully lift the baby out of the water and wrap him in a towel so he won't get cold. Dry him off and apply lotion or powder, as directed by the parents.
  • Diaper and dress him.

If you are uncomfortable giving a baby a tub bath, give a sponge bath instead. It's also good when a baby has a messy bowel movement.

  • Undress the baby and wrap him in a towel.
  • Lay him on a flat surface beside the water you are using.
  • Never let go—always keep one hand on the baby.
  • Wash and dry one part of his body at a time with warm water.
  • When done, diaper and dress the baby.
  • Clean up the area later while he is napping.

When bathing or changing a baby, never leave the baby alone for even a few seconds!

When bathing older children, you will want to make sure that they sit still in the tub. Children can slip and fall if they are standing or moving around. You will need to help young children in cleaning themselves and in washing their hair. Be careful not to get shampoo in their eyes while rinsing their hair. Never leave a child in the bathtub for any reason! Children have been known to drown in only a couple inches of water.