How to Bath Your Baby
Learn how to bath your newborn in our article because (unfortunately) babies don’t come with care instructions
6 min read
There’s something deeply delicious about sinking into a warm, deep, bubbly bath. It’s relaxing, soothing and the perfect spot to rest, read or treat yourself to a sneaky glass of something.
Well, that’s for us adults. For your baby, maybe not so much.
Whether you’ve got a water baby or a get-me-away-from-the-water baby, this guide has got you covered. We’ll walk you through the when, how and how often of baby bathing to help baby love their bath.
Why should I bath my baby?
With the inevitable milk spills, spit-ups and nappy explosions, newborns can be a little messy. But bathing your baby is about more than hygiene. In fact, your baby doesn’t need a bath every day.
Bathing your baby is a beautiful way to bond with them. It can make them relaxed and sleepy. A daily bath can become part of their bedtime routine.
It should be an enjoyable, quiet time between baby and their loved ones.
When can I first bath my newborn?
As early as two hours after birth, if they’re full-term and healthy. But there’s no rush, there are more important things to be doing after birth. Like marvelling at them, bonding, and resting.
You can bath them while their umbilical cord stump is still there or healing. Just let it dry fully afterwards.
As a newborn, it’s probably easier to bath them during the day when they’re more alert. When they get into more of a routine of awake and sleep times, you can start to make it part of their bedtime routine.
Where should I bath my baby?
It’s up to you! You can bath them in:
- The kitchen sink.
- Their own small baby bath.
- A big bath with other children.
- A big bath or shower with an adult.
If you’re using a big bath, take care of your back. Kneeling or leaning over the side can hurt it. That’s why the kitchen sink, or a small baby bath on the kitchen side, could be best in the first few months.
How do I bath my baby?
There are two ways:
- Top and tail wash.
- A bath.
Top and tail wash
The great thing about a top and tail wash is you do it in your baby’s cot or on their changing mat.
- A bowl of warm water.
- Cotton balls for eyes and ears.
- Face washer (muslin washers are great).
- New nappy.
Make sure the room is warm, then pop a clean towel under baby and undress them.
- Start by washing baby’s eyes. Using warm, damp cotton wool, gently wipe from the corner of the eye, near their nose, and wipe outwards. Use different cotton balls for each eye. This avoids cross-contamination.
- Move onto baby’s ears. Clean them gently in front and from behind with warm, damp cotton wool. To avoid damaging delicate ear drums, there’s no need to use cotton buds in their ears.
- Then using a warm, damp face washer gently wash baby’s face, neck, armpits and hands.
- Finish with cleaning baby’s bum and genitals. Remove any poo and then use a different, damp washer to gently clean there.
- Wrap up baby in the clean towel, gently pat them dry and you’re done.
Bathing your baby
Wherever you give birth, you’ll probably get some hands-on lessons from the nurses or midwives in how to bath your baby. Here’s how you do it.
- A baby bath / kitchen sink / bath.
- A towel.
- Face washers.
- A clean nappy.
- Change of clothes.
- Lotion (optional).
- Nappy cream.
Make sure the room is warm then:
- Make it quiet and calm. Dim lights, close blinds or play soft gentle music.
- Fill the bath with enough water to allow baby to float and stay warm. With such soft, sensitive skin, there’s no need for bubble bath.
- Test the water temperature with the inside of your wrist or elbow.
- Undress baby and pop them in, keeping hold of them always.
- Wash baby with the face washer from head to toe. Leave their bum and genitals until last and use a different washer.
- Got a water baby? Move them back and forward so they can enjoy the movement of water.
- When you’re done, wrap them up in a snuggly warm towel.
- Pat baby’s sensitive skin dry, rather than rubbing it.
- You can gently massage in lotion (make sure they’re suitable for newborn skin) and finish off with some bum balm.
How often should I bath my baby?
If you’re all enjoying bath time, then absolutely do it every day, especially if it’s part of your bedtime routine. But baby doesn’t need a bath every day: two or three times a week is enough. A face, hands and bottom wash is fine every day.
When should I bath my baby?
Whenever they’re not too tired and grumpy! If you aim for the same time every day, it’ll start to become routine. Baby will know what to expect and when. It makes a lovely part of your bedtime routine.
Help! My baby doesn’t like being bathed
As much as we say baths are relaxing and soothing, not all babies agree. If you find your baby firmly in that camp, try:
- Bathing them when they’re not tired or hungry.
- Wrapping them in a cloth nappy or wrap while you put them in the bath and letting it float away. This can help babies who like the comfort of being contained.
- Leave a warm, damp face washer on their chest or tummy.
- Bringing them in the bath with you. They might enjoy feeling safe and cuddly with you.
What other cleaning does my baby need?
With all the milk accidents and spit up, it’s a good idea to gently clean your baby’s eyes, nose and ears every day.
You can do this in the bath as you only need warm water. Or if you’re not bathing them every day, it’s the same process as the top part [jump to that section] of the top and tail wash.
How do I keep my baby safe in the bath?
The best way to keep baby safe in the bath is to remain with your baby, always. Always keep a hand on them too.
May your bath times be happy and enjoyable!