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How to bathe a newborn baby

How to bathe a newborn baby

Bathing your newborn is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, as well as soothe and clean them

It's natural to feel nervous about bath time if it's your first go, but follow our lead and you'll be fine. Promise!

You don't need to bath your little star every day. Two or three times a week is enough, but you should wash baby's face, neck, hands and bottom carefully each day. It's best to bath babies during a quiet time in the day, when they're happy and alert.

Some mums bath their baby in the sink and others use a baby bath or get in the big bath with baby. If you're worried about giving your newborn their first bath, you could try a bath support to cradle them, which leaves you with both hands free.

Buy these essentials before baby bath time:
• Baby bath
• Clean towel
• Bath thermometer
• Cotton wool
• Pouring jug
• Clean nappy
• Clean change of clothes

After your baby is one month old you can use:
• Mild non-perfumed soap
• Mild non-perfumed shampoo
• Mild non-perfumed lotion or oil

How to bath your newborn safely

1. Before you start, make sure the room is warm, and check that everything you need is to hand. Once your baby is in the bath, you must never leave them alone.

2. Getting the bath temperature for babies right is important. Fill the bath with 8-10cm of lukewarm water and swirl it around to even out the temperature. Check the temperature of the water with the inside of your wrist or an elbow. The perfect bath temperature for a newborn is 37°C.

3. Plain water is the best cleanser for your newborn's delicate skin. There's no need to add anything to your baby's bath, except for a mild non-perfumed soap if needed, once baby is more than one month old.

4. Lay your little one on a towel and undress them down to their nappy. Wrap the towel around them and clean their face with damp cotton wool, starting with the eyes. Use fresh cotton wool for each eye, and sweep outwards.

5. Hold your newborn's head over the bath to wash their hair. If your baby has cradle cap, gently massage in a mild non-perfumed shampoo or cradle cap cream to remove any loose scales (after one month), then rinse thoroughly.

6. Pat your baby's head dry before taking off their nappy. Wipe their bottom clean, then gently lower baby into the bath, making sure the head, neck and spine are all supported.

7. Hold your little one's head and neck above the water and use your free hand to wash gently around the umbilical cord and in between the creases, leaving on the creamy vernix, which protects their skin. Finally wash the bottom and genitals from front to back.

8. Carefully lift your baby out of the bath straight into a towel, and give them a big cuddle. Pat them dry, particularly around the umbilical cord and between all the creases. If you like, you can give your baby a massage, but you don't need to use any lotions or oil until after your baby's first month.

By Jo Walsh

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