Bathing your baby
You may be nervous about baby's first bath, but don't be. We tell you what to do.
Here is what you will need:
- Baby bath (choose one that’s a comfortable height for you or you’ll get backache)
- Non-slip mat
- Changing mat
- Bath towel and towelling nappy
- Cooled boiled water in a small bowl
- Cotton wool
- Baby shampoo, mild baby soap or aqueous cream
- Barrier cream for nappy area
- Clean nappy
- Clean clothes
Baby's bath routine:
- Bath baby at mid-morning or in the early evening if the weather is warm enough. In the first couple of weeks you can bath her every second day if you prefer, and top-and-tail on alternate days – however bath-time does help establish a good sleep routine, especially at bedtime, so play it by ear.
- Make sure the room where you will be bathing and dressing baby is comfortably warm. Prepare her bed and bottle. Lay out everything you will need, including baby shampoo, aqueous cream, petroleum jelly, her clean nappy, clothes and a vest.
- Half fill the bath with water. Pour in the cold water first and then the hot, until the water is comfortably warm. Test the water with your elbow for at least 30 seconds or use a bath thermometer – it should be about 29.4°C. Don’t make the water too cold, as newborns can’t maintain their body temperature very well, but make doubly sure that it is not too hot either.
- Undress baby, wipe her bottom clean from front to back, wrap her in a soft towel and clean her face gently with cotton wool dampened in cool, boiled water. Wipe her eyes from the inside corner out. Use a fresh cotton wool ball for each eye and throw them away afterwards. Wipe around each ear (not forgetting behind the ear, which can get crusty) and around the nose.
- Shampoo baby’s hair. While she is still wrapped, rinse her hair by holding her backwards over the bath, supporting her head, neck and back with your arm and rinsing with the other hand. Don’t let her head slope down, but keep it level. Gently towel-dry her hair.
- Unwrap the towel and apply aqueous cream or baby shampoo to her whole body with firm, gentle strokes. Warm the cream first if it is cold. Hold her in the “safety hold” before lowering her into the water. With your forearm supporting her neck and head, hold your baby’s outer arm firmly in one hand and with your free hand, hold her inner upper thigh. Lower her gently into the water. Let go of her thigh, and use this hand to gently wash the soap off.
- Let her enjoy the water. Glide her gently back and forth and let her kick her legs. Use the safety hold again to lift her out of the bath. Pat her skin dry, paying particular attention to the creases under her arms, at the top of her legs and around her neck. Dry the cord as thoroughly as possible, clean with surgical spirits, and expose it to air. You may want to massage baby just before or after her bath, or while you are soaping her body, but make sure the room is warm enough.
- After her bath, dress baby and give her a feed or a bottle, before swaddling her snugly to be put down to sleep.