Bathing a newborn baby is a special time for both of you, a first milestone to be remembered and a lovely way to bond with your baby. While babies don’t need daily baths to stay clean, it can be an enjoyable experience for them and something you or other family members can do to help connect with your baby and give you a much-needed break.
It can take a while to feel confident bathing your newborn. That is normal; do not stress if it takes time to find your feet, as it can be a bit of a juggling act and take some getting used to. Luckily babies don’t need daily baths; 2-3 times a week is more than enough, so do what you feel comfortable with.
Pick a good time of day to bathe your newborn.
There's no right or wrong time to bathe your baby, but picking a good time of day can make it easier. Ideally, bathing your baby when they are well-fed, and content is easiest, making sure they are alert and not sleepy for bath time. Make sure the room is quiet and warm to minimize any distractions and keep your baby comfortable.
A lot of people use bathtime as a lovely way for the non-primary caregiver to bond with the baby, so nighttime is often the easiest to work into the household schedule. But really, whatever works for you and your family is best.
The before you bath checklist.
It’s great to get everything set up and ready to go before you begin bathtime. While you don’t need a whole host of fancy things for a baby bath, there are a few simple items you will want to get ready before diving into bath time:
- Wash clothes x 2
- Bath thermometer or your elbow-both work just fine.
- Clean clothes
- Clean nappy
- Nappy rash cream or ointment you may need.
Position the bath so that it’s comfortable for you and easy to reach into. You’ll need one, if not both, hands on your baby at all times during bath time, so make sure you are steady and comfortable. This is possibly why many of us get told we were bathed in laundry sinks- they are ideal heights and sizes for bathing babies!
Run a shallow bath with 8-10cm of warm water. We recommend a baby bath, or the laundry sink works well if you’ve got nothing smaller. Test the water temperature with a bath thermometer or elbow.
Place one washcloth at the bottom of the bath for the baby to “sit” on. This works well with a burp cloth if you find a washcloth too small. Shop our range of washcloths and burp clothes here.
Pop their towel or burp cloth over your shoulder or lap, so when it’s time to get out, you’ve got it close at hand and ready.
Place baby gently in the bath and keep one hand on them at all times. It can take a bit of getting used to the first few times, so that it might be a two-person job. Then, use one hand to hold your baby steady and the other to wash them with a soft cloth.
To soap or not to soap? Newborn babies don’t require bathing daily, and for the first 4-6weeks of age, plain water is recommended for bathing. After six weeks, you can start introducing an unscented baby-friendly soap into bath time, but water is enough for the first few weeks.
Cleaning the umbilical cord stump. This falls off within the first ten days. Let the water wash around it to remove any discharge. If you have concerns about your baby's umbilical cord or belly button, speak to your infant health nurse.
5-10 is long enough for a newborn bath, especially if they are prone to dry or irritated skin. Carefully lift them out of the bath and wrap them in a soft, warm towel. Gently dry them, especially in-between any little rolls under their neck and between fingers. Pop on their nappy and clothes, and it’s time for post-bath cuddles.
Safety while bathing your newborn
Water safety around babies and children is so important. We cannot stress enough that you must have your eyes and one hand on your baby during bath time. Never leave them unattended in or around water.
Bath time with your newborn is a wonderful way to bond and introduce them to loving the water, not all babies will love it at first, and that’s ok. Just keep going, and we promise they’ll learn to love it-especially when bubbles and toys become involved!
Snuggly Jack xx