How to bathe a newborn baby

Give your baby a beautiful bath in these few simple (and soapy!) steps.

Updated

how to bathe a newborn

Parenting secrets to bathing a newborn

  • Have all the things you need ready before you start.
  • Topping and tailing is great for in between bath times, as you don’t need to bath every day.
  • Use specialist products like Baby Dove to protect your baby’s skin.
  • Bathe together for comfort and safety.

 

You've reached the end of the third trimester, gone through labour, and brought your bouncing baby home. You'll have lots of questions about how to care for them, including how to bathe a newborn baby - whicih is where our advice on bathing your new baby safely can help! In no time you'll have mastered this part of parenting - and just in time to learn how to baby proof your home and wean your bany onto solid food!

A newborn baby's face, hands and body is especially sensitive, so always use a gentle product like Baby Dove, which is specially designed to protect their delicate skin.

How to bathe a baby safely: what do you need for a newborn bath?

There are two ways that you can wash a newborn. These are topping and tailing or using a baby bath

 

What you need for topping and tailing:

  • A bowl of warm water
  • Cotton wool balls
  • A soft, clean towel
  • A thermometer to check the baby bath temperature

 

What you need for a baby bath:

  • A baby bath
  • Warm water
  • Baby bubble bath (optional)
  • A soft sponge or washcloth
  • A soft, clean towel
  • A thermometer to check the baby bath temperature

 

How to bathe a baby safely: what steps should you take?

It’s actually super easy to bathe a newborn, just follow the guides below. Remember that any method you use for baby bathing should have the temperature set to 37-38 degrees Celsius.

 

For topping and tailing, use these steps:

  1. Fill a bowl with some warm water. Don’t forget to check the temperature of the water is 37-38 degrees Celsius.
  2. Dip cotton wool balls into the water and press excess water out gently.
  3. Starting at the top of your baby, clean their head and face first by gently dapping with the wet cotton wool. 
  4. Put used cotton wool in another dish or a nappy bag for disposal later.
  5. Next, ensure their hands are clean. Use a clean cotton wool ball for each are of their body.
  6. Finally, clean their bottom. 
  7. Gently pat your baby dry with a clean towel, paying careful attention to any creases.

 

For bathing a baby, use these steps:

  1. Be sure to have everything you need ready and within reach before you put baby into the bath. Never leave a baby unattended while bathing.
  2. Know how to hold your baby in the bath. Ensure that you support their head and keep them warm by putting warm water over their body continuously. Babies cannot regulate their own temperature and are prone to catching cold easily. For that reason, you should ensure the room you’re bathing in is warm too.
  3. Fill the baby bath with warm water. Always check the newborn baby bath temperature is 37-38 degrees Celsius.
  4. Mix the water well to ensure there are no hot spots. You can buy special mats which change color to indicate hot spots to help you check!
  5. Add a little mild baby bath if you like - check for reactions as baby's can haave very sensitive skin.
  6. Wash your baby from head to toe using a soft washcloth or sponge. Bathing with your baby is a great way to comfort them during the process and prevent tears.
  7. Gently pat your baby dry with a clean towel, paying careful attention to any creases.

When to bathe a newborn baby for the first time?

It is recommended that you wait at least 24 hours after birth before giving baby their first bath. Follow thes tips when you start to bathe baby for the first time:

  • Bathe your little one for no longer than 10 minutes.
  • Make sure the temperature is suitable - baby skin is more sensitive to heat than adult skin.
  • Wait until the umbilical stump falls off and heals to prevent potential infections from bathing - or just make sure you pat this are dry thoroughly after bathing.

How often should you bathe a baby?

Babies do not need bathing every day - 2-3 times a week should be fine to start with. If you want to ensure your baby is clean between bath times, try topping and tailing instead.

While your baby may not need bathing every day, accidents (such as nappy poo explosions!) happen and it’s important to keep their clothes clean. Check out our advice on how to clean newborn clothes with detergent for help with this.

With these top tips, you now know how to bathe a newborn baby. Enjoy this special time together!

Originally published