Pregnancy and baby

Washing and bathing your baby

How do I bath my baby?

Media last reviewed: 11/04/2012

Next review due: 11/04/2014

Baby bathtime

You don't need to bathe your baby every day, but you should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day. This is often called "topping and tailing".

Choose a time when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm. Get everything ready beforehand. You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes.

You may find the following step-by-step guide to washing your baby useful:

  • Hold your baby on your knee or lay them on a changing mat. Take off all their clothes, apart from their vest and nappy, and wrap them in a towel.
  • Dip the cotton wool in the water (make sure it doesn't get too wet) and wipe gently around your baby's eyes from the nose outward, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye. This is so that you don't transfer any stickiness or infection from one eye to another.
  • Use a fresh piece of cotton wool to clean around your baby's ears, but not inside them. Never use cotton buds to clean inside your baby's ears. Wash the rest of your baby's face, neck and hands in the same way and dry them gently with the towel.
  • Take off the nappy and wash your baby's bottom and genital area with fresh cotton wool and warm water. Dry very carefully, including between the skin folds, and put on a clean nappy.  
  • It will help your baby to relax if you keep talking while you wash them. The more they hear your voice, the more they'll get used to listening to you and start to understand what you're saying.

Bathing your baby

Babies only need a bath two or three times a week, but if your baby really enjoys it, bathe them every day.

Don't bathe your baby straight after a feed or when they're hungry or tired. Make sure the room is warm.

Have everything you need at hand: a baby bath or clean washing-up bowl filled with warm water, two towels, baby bath liquid (unless your baby has particularly dry skin), a clean nappy, clean clothes and cotton wool.

  • The water should be warm, not hot. Check it with your wrist or elbow and mix it well so there are no hot patches.
  • Hold your baby on your knee and clean their face, as described above.
  • Next, wash their hair with water or a liquid soap or shampoo that's designed for babies. Rinse carefully, supporting them over the bowl.
  • Once you've dried their hair gently, you can take off their nappy, wiping away any mess.
  • Lower your baby gently into the bowl or bath using one hand to hold their upper arm and support their head and shoulders.
  • Keep your baby's head clear of the water. Use the other hand to gently swish the water over your baby without splashing.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a second.
  • Lift your baby out and pat them dry, paying special attention to the creases in their skin.
  • This is a good time to massage some oil or cream (not aqueous cream) into your baby's skin. Don't use anything that contains peanut oil as some babies are allergic to it. Lots of babies love being massaged, and it can help them relax and sleep. It's best if you lay your baby on a towel on the floor as both the baby and your hands can get slippery.
  • If your baby seems frightened of bathing and cries, try bathing together. Make sure the water isn't too hot. It's easier if someone else holds your baby while you get in and out of the bath.

See more

Page last reviewed: 01/10/2013

Next review due: 01/10/2015

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 34 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

gayatridas said on 26 November 2012

well bathing is a new born baby is really a difficult job..yet not impossible...i am a new mommy of a 1 mnth old baby and this wer i came to know about how to bathe ur newborn

http://www.nappytimes.com/blog/entry/bath-time-for-your-baby

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Image alt text

Sign up for emails

Get weekly pregnancy and baby emails, linking to articles and over 100 videos of experts, mums and dads

Washing your hands is a simple but effective way of preventing the spread of germs.

Beware of common household germs

You can't kill all the germs in your home but there are some nasty ones you need to protect yourself against

Birth to five timeline

Use this timeline to see how your child will develop, from birth to five years old

Birth to five: timeline

Services near you

Get help with all aspects of your parenting from the NHS in your area

Media last reviewed: 11/03/2013

Next review due: 11/03/2015