How To Bathe A Newborn

Posted by Kerry Nevins on

One of the first milestones in your parenting journey is your baby's first bath, and it's a special moment to remember, especially since those baths will soon become regular bonding moments. Read on to find out when and how to bathe your newborn baby, as well as how often during the first few months.

How Often to Bathe Your Newborn

You might be surprised to learn that your newborn does not require daily bathing – but it will do no harm if they enjoy it.

Otherwise, two or three baths per week should suffice as long as you clean your baby's face, neck, hands, and bottom on a daily basis (known as "topping and tailing") and thoroughly clean the nappy area at each nappy change.

It's entirely up to you when it comes to giving that first official bath! You can wait a few days and only give ‘top and tail' cleanses instead of proper baths in the first few days, but you can also begin a bathing routine as soon as you bring your baby home.

Topping and Tailing: Washing Your Baby Without a Bath

Instead of giving your baby a daily bath, you can simply ‘top and tail' your newborn, which simply means cleaning the face, neck, hands, and bottom. In the first few days after your baby is born, you might prefer topping and tailing to a ‘proper' bath until you feel more comfortable handling your newborn and caring for the umbilical cord stump.

You don't need a sponge for topping and tailing your baby, even though it's sometimes referred to as a sponge bath. Cotton wool is far superior in terms of hygiene, as you'll need a new piece for each part of your baby's body you clean. Before getting started, you’ll need:

  • A bowl of warm water
  • Towel
  • Some cotton wool
  • A fresh nappy
  • Clean clothes.

Safety Tips For Bath Time

When taking a bath, it's critical to remember to be safe. Babies and small children should never be left in a bath unattended, even for a minute. Here are a few bath time suggestions:

  • Make sure you always use the hot and cold taps at the same time when you run the bath.
  • Get everything ready ahead of your baby’s bath, so you have everything you need to hand.
  • Don’t be distracted away by another child, a phone call or doorbell. What feels like a couple of seconds can turn into a minute or two. Leaving your little one even for a few moments could be enough time for them to seriously hurt themselves or drown.
  • If you forget anything – ask your partner or another family member to grab it for you. Or take your baby with you to get what you need. 
  • Check the bath water temperature first before putting your baby in. The standard way to check is to put your elbow in the water because your hand can cope with higher temperatures.

How Often Can I Give My Baby A Bath?

Your little one won’t need a bath every day but if they enjoy it there’s no reason why you can’t. If you’d prefer to top and tail your newborn, you can do this every day, every few days or as needed. However, it is important to note that every baby is different – you will soon find out what works best for you and your little one. 

How Do I Wash My Baby?

You can place your baby in a small baby bath to get started. If you want to top and tail your newborn, you can do this by washing them using cotton wool and bowls of warm water. 

Babies love to lie on a parent’s chest in the bath. Having a bath with your baby can help you both relax and encourage breastfeeding. So definitely give it a try! It can help to have an extra pair of hands at bath time, so encourage your partner to get involved.

You shouldn’t use any cleansing products to bathe your baby; only mild, non-perfumed soap can be used where needed. Plain water is safer for your baby’s skin during the first month. 

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