Tips for Bathing a Baby

Bubbles, splashes and giggles. Baby bath time can be magical time for making memories. But for many new parents, bathing a baby for the first time can be daunting and stressful. How do you hold a wriggling newborn in water? When should you start bathing a baby and how often? What’s the best way to wash your baby?

Our latest blog addresses all your questions and worries around baby’s bath time, as well as offering some invaluable tips to make clean-time, fun-time.

What age should I start bathing my baby?

There are no hard and fast rules around when your baby should have their first bath - it’s really up to you. Newborn babies don’t need a bath in the first few days so you decide when the time is right.

Some new mums feel anxious at the thought of handling their baby when slippery and wet so you may prefer to ‘top and tail’ your baby instead – or wash their face, neck and bottom with cotton wool - until you feel more confident.

When the time comes for that first ‘official’ bath, baby bath tubs can make the experience easier and safer. Nuby has designed a special, compact newborn baby bath with built-in seat and soft headrest for support to help baby stay more securely in place while you wash him or her. An anti-slip base keeps the bath from moving around too.

When can you give a newborn a bath with soap?

Plain water is fine to wash your newborn baby with for the first few weeks.
You can start using unperfumed, specially formulated baby bath products from about four to six weeks but make sure you only use a very small amount to avoid damaging baby’s delicate skin.
If your baby has lots of hair, you might want to use a little baby shampoo but make sure you rinse thoroughly. Our shampoo rinse pail has a soft flexible edge to sit comfortably against little heads, making sure any soap suds are kept well away from your baby’s eyes.

How often should you bathe a newborn?

NHS midwives recommend bathing your baby two to three times a week but if you both enjoy it there’s no reason why you can’t give them a bath every day.
If you prefer to top and tail, you can do this every day or every few days if needed.
Every baby is different, and you’ll soon work out what’s best for both of you.

Can you bath a baby before the umbilical cord falls off?

You can give your baby a bath before the umbilical cord falls off, which is usually around one to two weeks, but be careful to keep the stump clean and dry to avoid the risk of potential infection.

What is the proper way to bath a baby?
Before you start, make sure you get everything ready so that it’s within easy reach.
You will need:
• A baby bath filled with warm water between 37⁰C and 38⁰C
• 2 clean towels
• A clean nappy
• Clean clothes
• Cotton wool

Newborns have sensitive skin so the baby bath temperature should be between 37⁰C and 38⁰C - not too hot and not too cold. Scalding can occur within seconds if the temperature is any warmer. If you want to put your mind at rest, you can use a bath thermometer to check the water is at a safe and comfortable temperature. Our floating Turtle Bath Thermometer displays both the water and room temperature and flashes and beeps if the water becomes too hot or too cold.
You don’t need to use any soap. Plain water is best for your baby for the first few weeks. Before you undress your baby, make sure the room is warm.

Now you’re ready to go:

  1. Undress your baby and wrap them in a warm towel
  2. Clean your baby’s face with damp cotton wool
  3. Unwrap your baby from the towel and lower them gently into the bath
  4. Hold your baby with one arm while supporting their head and shoulders with your hand
  5. Use your other free hand to gently swish the water around them
  6. Keep your baby’s head clear of the water at all times
  7. NEVER leave your baby alone in the bath – even for a second
  8. When your baby is clean, lift them out and wrap them in a dry, clean towel
  9. Pat your baby dry paying special attention to creases and under their chin
  10. Baby bath time over – dress your baby and give lots of cuddles

Make bathtime fun

Even if your baby takes a little while to get used to having a bath, you can be sure that once it’s part of their routine they will grow to love it.
Baby bath toys add extra fun. As your baby gets bigger, playing with colourful stacking cups, a bubble machine or squirty toys make bath time an enjoyable experience for both of you.
Toys like this also help baby’s development. As well as improving hand-to-eye coordination and strengthening baby’s hands and wrists, bath toys help develop colour recognition and help teach lessons around cause and effect.

Your bedtime routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is essential for establishing good sleep habits for your baby. Bath time can be an important part of this, providing memorable cues for winding down and preparing to sleep. Read our bath, book, bed blog to find out more.
Once you’ve got that first baby bath out of the way, your confidence will grow and you and your little one will find baby bath time lots of fun and an enjoyable event to look forward to.