Bathing your Baby

Date Posted:28 December 2017 

Bathing your baby

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How often should I bathe my baby?

It’s up to you how often you bath your baby. Some babies love being in the water, and giving your baby a warm bath can become a fun and relaxing ritual.

That's not to say you have to bathe your baby every day. If your baby is newborn, a bath two or three times a week is enough to keep him clean.

Bear in mind that if you live in a hard-water area, too much tap water may dry out and damage your baby’s skin.

Between baths:

When you do bathe your baby you may find it a little scary the first few times. You may want to have someone with you to give you a bit of support. It's also helpful if you've forgotten something you need for your baby. Until you get into a routine, you'll probably find this is a common occurrence!

Handling a wriggling, wet and slippery baby takes practice and confidence, but you and your baby will get used to bathtime and start to enjoy it. Most babies find warm water soothing and a bath may help a fussy baby to relax and calm down.

Where should I bathe my baby?

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To begin with you may find it easier to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby bath.

You could use your big bath, but it can be awkward as you need to kneel or lean over the side. If you do use your big bath, it may help to use a bathing seat or support for your baby, or a rubber mat or sponge bath base.

When should I bathe my baby?

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Choose a time of day when you're not expecting any interruptions and have time to devote to your baby. It's best if your baby is awake and contented before you start, and between feeds so he’s neither hungry nor full. 

When your baby is newborn you may find it easiest to bath him during the day. But after a few months, a bath can become part of his bedtime routine.

Warm water can help to relax your baby and make him sleepy. It's also an opportunity for other family members to get involved. Bathtime is a part of babycare that dads often enjoy taking on.

If someone comes to the door or the phone rings and you feel you must answer it, scoop your baby up and take him with you. 

Never leave your baby unattended in the bath, not even for a few seconds. That could be all the time it takes for your baby to get into difficulty in the water. Even if one of your older children is in the bath with him, or you're using a special bath, bath support or bath seat, you must stay with your baby.

What do I need to bathe my baby?

At first, bathing your baby may seem like a huge undertaking, with all the things you have to remember to have to hand. It will get easier. It won't be long before your baby's bath becomes another routine you've got down to a fine art.

Before you start your baby's bath, gather all the things you’ll need. These may include:

  • A bowl of warm water for face washing.
  • Several clean pieces of cotton wool.
  • A sponge or face washer.
  • A mild, liquid baby cleanser or bath emollient, as using these products will protect your baby's natural skin barrier.
  • At least one clean, dry towel. Hooded towels are good for wrapping up your baby from top to toe.
  • A bath thermometer, if you have one, for testing water temperature.
  • A muslin square, old face washer or towel if you have a baby boy. He may do a wee when his nappy comes off and he feels the fresh air on his skin.
  • A clean nappy and clothes.
  • A warm blanket.

What's the best way to give my baby a bath?

Before you bathe your baby, wash his face. It's easier than trying to do it while he's is in the water. There's no need to use soap or cleanser on his face.

Wash his face with clean pieces of cotton wool dipped in warm water and squeezed out. 

If he has dried mucus in his eyes or nostrils, dab it first to soften the mucus. Wipe each eye from the nose outwards with a fresh piece of dampened cotton wool.

These tips will help make baby bathing easier:

  • Keep the room warm and close windows and doors if there's a draught.
  • Put cold water in the bath first, then hot, so the bath water is comfortably warm. Finish by running the cold tap for a few seconds, so your baby isn't burned if he touches the taps.
  • Use a bath thermometer, if you have one, to check that the water is about 37 to 38 degrees C. Or use your elbow, rather than your hand, to gauge the temperature. It should feel neither hot nor cold.
  • For newborns and babies up to six months old, fill the bath with about 13cm of water. Or just make sure there’s enough to allow your baby to settle in the water with his shoulders well covered. Never fill the bath more than waist-high (in sitting position) for older babies.
  • Bring your baby to the bath area, undress him and remove his nappy. If there's poo in the nappy, clean your baby's genitals and bottom before putting him in the bath.
  • Gradually slip your baby into the bath. Use one hand to support his neck and head, and slip your hand round to hold his arm. With your other hand, support his bottom.
  • Continue to keep a good grip and support his head with one arm, as he might get quite slippery when he’s wet. Use your other hand to wash him.
  • Wash your baby with water, or use a mild, liquid baby cleanser. If your baby's skin is dry or tender, you could add a little bath emollient to the water. The emollient will make your baby slippery to handle, though.
  • Use your hand, or a face washer or sponge, to clean your baby from top to bottom and front to back. For your baby's genitals, a routine wash is all that’s needed.
  • Lift him out of the bath, and straight onto a dry towel. Wrap him up warmly and pat, rather than rub, him dry before putting a nappy on.
  • Then wrap your baby in a dry towel or blanket again and give him a cuddle to help keep him warm. You may want to smooth on a mild moisturising lotion or cream, or oil if his skin is dry.
  • Dress your baby in clean clothes, wrap him in a dry, warm blanket, and give him a kiss on his sweet-smelling head.

Once your baby is a couple of months old, you or your partner could share a bath with him. Being in the bath with your baby is a lovely way for you to be close to each other. It's a great way for dads to have precious skin-to-skin time with their baby, too.

Have a quick shower or wash before you get in the bath. Make sure the water is warm, not hot. Use mild baby cleansers and washes, as your normal bath products will be too harsh for your baby's skin.

It can be tricky, and risky, to get in and out of the bath while holding your baby, so ask your partner or someone else to help.

They can pass your baby to you once you’ve got in and lift him back out again when you've finished. 


Babycenter (2014, May). “Bathing your Baby”. Retrieved from

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